It’d been two and a half months since I last did a retrospective book review – not to mention that I’ve been in THE WORST reading slump – so I decided that it was more than time for another.
Retrospective Book Reviews (previously Reading Retrospectives), for those who don’t know, are basically book reviews, but they’re on books that I read before I started this blog. So, in order for them to get their day in the sun, I go back through them and see if my opinion when I originally read them holds up.
This week, I’m re-reviewing a book I read a couple of years ago. It’s Witch & Wizard, the first book in the aforementioned YA series, written by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet.
SERIES: Witch & Wizard (Book #1)
LENGTH: 314 pages
GENRES: Dystopian, Fantasy, YA, Fiction
PUBLISHER: Jimmy Patterson
RELEASE DATE: 14 December 2009
The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager.
But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they’d never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents–and maybe the world?
So, I’ve been in the worst reading funk that I’ve been in for a long time. For whatever reason, summers are rough for me, and I almost always end up with a reading block for some duration of the season.
So I thought, what better way to get the brain wanting to read then skimming over a book I didn’t really care for when I read it, and re-reviewing it for the blog?
No better way, I decided. So here we are. Onwards, to the rant!
Witch & Wizard is an aggressively mediocre book, that was the brainchild of a collab better James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. Yes, the same guy who wrote those godawful Maximum Ride books, and just pumps out like twenty books a year on average. (His poor ghostwriters…) And yes, if you couldn’t tell by the title, this is going to be a roast.
So let’s get straight to the point: this book sucks. Like, when I first attempted to read it as a young teen, I think I only got two thirds of the way through. Then, when I finally got through the thing years later as an adult, I didn’t like it. Yes, I admit, I gave it three and a half stars. But I also gave The Savior’s Champion three and a half stars, and Blood & Honey two and a half stars. I read all three of these books when I’d just started out reviewing books online, and I was afraid to be critical.
But those days are over. Now, I’m gonna say what I actually think and feel about these books.
Let’s get started with the thing that has always annoyed me with this book: the villain and the villain’s name. He appears at the beginning of the book in a flashforward, and then appears very little throughout the book. I never found him very threatening, even when I first read it. Also, he’s only referred to as The One Who Is The One. Very annoying to read, as well as extremely uninspired.
The dystopian world and the magic system also don’t make any sense. There’s no buildup and there’s no background on like anything. And there was just far too much action and far too little character introspection. Whenever I get to the end, I still never feel like I know who our main characters – Whit and Wisty Allgood – are. (Plus, their POVs read exactly the same. They’re really not that distinguished from one another.)
The most grating thing about Witch & Wizard, however, is most definitely the invented slang. It just doesn’t feel like… actual slang. I’m sorry, but as someone who was definitely a teenager when they first read it, I can definitely say then and now that no teenager or kid will ever use Erlenmeyer as a slang term. NEVER. It’s waaayy too long, and not at all catchy. And the rest of the invented slang is also pretty clunky and unnatural.
Honestly, I found this book at least as messy as the Maximum Ride series. It really felt like a disaster to read. (And to read again.)
By this rant, you’re probably wondering why I gave this such a generous one and three-quarters stars. Well, that’s cuz I know that there are far worse books – heck, I’ve read some far worse books. So that’s why.
You’re also probably wondering why I haven’t added any quotes to this review, like I usually do. It’s because this book is straight up cringe with its writing. This is actually something I didn’t really notice as a young teen, and is definitely something that my adult eyes identified. So kids and younger teenagers probably won’t find the (nonexistent) prose and (bad) dialogue to be cringey.
But since you’re clearly curious, here’s a couple lines, just for you:
You know things have gone bad when military marches pass for pop music.
and the absolute cringiest part of the novel
I kept on talking without really thinking, until it turned into a chant:
They’re afraid of change, and we must change.
They’re afraid of the young, and we are the young.
They’re afraid of music, and music is our life.
They’re afraid of books, and knowledge, and ideas.
They’re most afraid of our magic.
So yeah, this book is bad. But I’ve somehow read and heard about worse, so this one got a slight pass. A slight. I still find it terrible, even though I know it could’ve been worse.
There’s a good chance that a younger teenager or preteen will like this, but I just can’t bring myself to recommend it. If you’re an adult, read anything else. If you’re a kid, read Percy Jackson or something. There are far better books than this one.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an extraordinary day/night.
See ya ~Mar