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So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards, #1)
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So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  21,743 Ratings  ·  941 Reviews
'Should you decide to go ahead and take the Oath, be warned that an ordeal of sorts will follow, a test of aptitude...'

Nita's life changes dramatically when she discovers a library book on the art of wizardy! Taking the Oath to use the power wisely and well, she beings the long road of study to become a wizard. But first she must prove her worth - as does Kit, another youn
Paperback, 237 pages
Published February 14th 1991 by Corgi (first published 1983)
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Jan 21, 2008 Kewpie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is sort of an American, dark and urban version of Harry Potter. While browsing shelves at the library, Nita discovers a book with the title "So You Want to Be a Wizard" She takes it as a joke, but it turns out to be the real deal. The spells work and she actually is learning to be a wizard.

It turns out that this is the way wizards are trained. Their textbooks seek out those with the talent. Nita soon finds another wizard named Kit and they go on a really twisted and somewhat scary adventure
Tamora Pierce
Nov 01, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tween lovers of contemporary fantasy
Recommended to Tamora by: saw it on the shelf
The perfect fantasy novel--there you are in the library, and you pick up one particular book . . . I love Kit and Nita as they struggle with being sloppy and working around their parents as young wizards!
Aug 05, 2008 Daniella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
"Dear Artificer, I’ve blown my quanta and gone to the Good Place!"

I'm so glad that I decided to re-read So You Want to Be a Wizard as part of my self-imposed book challenge for this year. I'd almost forgotten how much I love this book!

In fact, I love it so much that I almost couldn't read it again. At first, I would read a couple of pages and have to put the book down because I'd get all teary and junk. Not because it's sad (although it does have its moments), but because I would remember how mu
Jul 18, 2007 Bonnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The magic and wizardry content in this book was just too strange. It's totally possible to write about things that are different from what we experience in this world, but to write them in a way that you understand what's going on. In this book, though she uses analogies that don't help make things any clearer. When I stopped reading, for example, the 2 young wizards are creating a thing to plug a hole in a thing to keep out a grey cloud that they somehow know wants to eat them (clearly I couldn ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Sesana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book, I wished I could time travel. I would hand this book to my younger self, when I was Nita's age. Because much as I liked this book as an adult, I know that if I'd first read this in middle school, I would have loved it.

It is a good book, a very good book. I take nothing away from Duane, because I think she hit every mark nearly perfectly. And I did enjoy reading it, even if I'm not hooked. Her system of magic is interesting, basically talking the world into doing what you want
Apr 06, 2007 Mrelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the young readers in my acquaintance complain that there aren't more Harry Potter books to read, I like to suggest this series.
I usually start the campaign with a few questions to get them interested.
"What if kid wizards couldn't tell their families about their powers?"
"What if they had to risk their lives in secret to keep the world safe?"

I find the pre-teen and teen characters in this series to be much more engaging and realistic than the self-centered, clueless and common sense-lacking c
Nov 21, 2009 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People from the 1950's, Trash Fantasy lovers, young kids with nothing else to read,
Recommended to Adam by: Mrs. (Sandra?) Laviolette, Alex Katigbak
I started reading this book for the first time when I was grade 8 and I couldn't really get into it. I've finally figured out why.

I'm reading it again because it was in my house and I needed something to read, and the dialogue feels forced and VERY dated. It's almost a condescending mockery of how kids talk. The ideas in it are really interesting, but they're described by thirteen year-olds who talk like little kids, instead of adults, so the magic is being sucked out of... well... the magic.

Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~

It's a children's book, they said.
It's like Harry Potter but in America, they said.
You'll have a good time, they said.


There was a time when this book was about a girl, Nita, getting bullied at school and having her pen stolen - and this was the happy fun times. This book becomes so much more when she hides in a library and finds a book about wizardry. A book that materialized there just for her to di
Bill Khaemba
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”  

This was honestly one of the best middle-grade fantasy books, I have ever read :) It was whimsical, magical and so fun :)

I’ve been told to try these so often that I more or less assumed the recommendation would be apt, and got a bundle of the whole series in one of Diane Duane’s website sales. Unfortunately, something about this doesn’t work for me — I guess it feels too random and immature? Stuff like ‘Fred’, the ‘white hole’, who is the opposite of a black hole, and some of the logic of how magic worked just… I didn’t feel hooked by it. Once I got to the white hole burping up whole cars, I was more or less done; ...more
I read this series countless times when I was a teenager, but this was always my least favorite of the lot - almost too creepy for me. I was never excited to roam around in this particular world the way I was excited to return to High Wizardry or A Wizard Abroad (though that last one may have something to do with the love interest .... sue me).
Lolly's Library
I must've been too busy reading Diana Wynne Jones and Madeleine L'Engle, because I'd never heard of this series growing up. It was only in the past couple of years that it came to my attention. I have to say, I'm not all that impressed. Part of the problem is the fact that the book feels dated. Usually when that happens, the story is able to carry me along so that I don't notice things like Dictaphones and typewriters (non-self-correcting ones, at that). Not with this book. I blame most of that ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jan 10, 2014 Rachel (Kalanadi) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
My third reread: loved it.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Jul 20, 2012 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christina (A Reader of Fictions) by: Alexa Wang
Conveniently, the very first book chosen for me in my new regular posting series, Sadie Hawkins' Sunday, just happened to be a book I already had in my personal collection. This series first came onto my radar when I was looking for readalikes for Harry Potter. I did enjoy this one (thanks Alexa!) and I'm glad I got a chance to dig into my massive collection of unread books.

The first thing that you should probably know is that this book was first published in 1983, long before Harry Potter. The
Apr 29, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Everyone one has seen the books like "So you wanna be a (fill in the blank)". Nita gets lucky enough to find one that is to help her along her way to become a wizard! This is the dream of half the children in America. Nita decides she wants to use this book to help her fend off the bullies who constantly beat her up and leave her nursing her wounds and her pride on a daily basis.

One day as she is learning about her new found magical abilities, she runs into Kit, also a new wizard. They put thei
Destinee Sutton
Part of what makes great fantasy is a great setting, i.e. an original other world that feels real even though it's so different from the world we inhabit. I found this book totally lacking in that department. Nita and Kit (whose names and personalities are too similar--I kept getting them mixed up as I read) start in the real world as normal kids. They meet when they realize they're both aspiring wizards and then they go looking for Nita's lost pen and end up in this horrible, dark alternate uni ...more
Kate Sherrod
Oct 20, 2012 Kate Sherrod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, it's a good thing a certain someone who talked me into reading Harry Potter this year didn't show these to me until long after I'd done with Hogwarts, because Potter & co. would have suffered even more by comparison with these than they already did with the Greats.

As I found myself explaining to a work colleague who is trying to get her 13-year-old son to read more, among the many reasons Duane's Young Wizards books look to be better than Potter is that their would-be wizards are tea
This book is so easy and fast to read but it took me FOREVER to actually read it. I kept picking it up, reading twenty pages, and then putting it down in favor of something else.

Nita is our main character. She's a twelve year old girl living in New York. She's a bit nerdy (her favorite possession is a space pen her uncle gave to her that can write on anything) and she's having trouble with a bully in her class at school. When she's hiding from said bully in the library after school, she happens
Jul 15, 2013 bella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years I've had a few friends tell me that I should try the Young Wizards books by Diane Duane. This is based on the fact that I love Diana Wynne Jones books about magic and wizards, and of course I love Harry Potter too. So when I spied "So You Want To Be a Wizard" on the shelves at the library I decided to read it and find out what it was all about.

It all starts with Nita running away from bullies. She needs a hideout, so she runs into the library and discovers a book in the children's sect
I’m pretty sure I should not have had as much trouble getting started in So You Want to be A Wizard by Diane Duane as I did. This novel just did not catch me in the beginning, and I’m not sure why. I suspect I found this novel too late in life. If I had read it as a tween/young teen it might have resonated more than reading it as a middle age woman. I guess one thing that threw me off was the bantering amount of physic terminology that I found distracting in preteen kids. Once I got past that, I ...more
Nathaniel Gage
Jun 30, 2011 Nathaniel Gage rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book for the first time and finding an entire new world opened up to me. I was ten then, in search, as the main character here was, for something deeper; something fantastic in everyday life. I read this book, the second, and the third in the series in such quick succession that I couldn't believe I'd actually managed to make my brain process the words that fast, and I was hooked forever on fantasy.

Years later I came back to this book and opened it up, and the magic was
Sep 21, 2012 Aaron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the worst book I ever read. Only reason I finished it is because it was so short (and even then it took me a while to slog through it). Didn't even realize it was part of a series when I was reading it, as I had forgotten the reason I had checked it out was because the 6th book in the series made the ALA Teen Top Ten List. Very surprised there was enough interest to create a series after this terrible first book. Some highlights:

p. 10: "A wizard's business is to conserve energy -
At first glance, it seems like something a Harry Potter fan like myself would adore.

I loved the opening scene, where the main character goes into a library and is thinking about how much she loves books & libraries. My god, the author captured that feeling perfectly. True readers will understand the beautiful of that part.

But after that... It just falls flat. The writing style is awkward, and bland. It turned magic into something dull & confusing. Maybe it could be excused because of th
Cait S
Apr 12, 2016 Cait S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I wanted to like this. I really did. The beginning was super promising, a totally unique form of magic and how the wizard came across it. I was here for Nita, totally dug the fact that it was a male/female best friendship and they were both PoC. I was here for pretty much everything about this book.

Except for the fact that it is so...incredibly...boring. I quit at about 60% in when my brain was just screaming "ENOOUGH! ENOUGH ALREADY!" every time I thought about picking it up. Scenes were draggi
Aug 14, 2007 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I honestly picked this book up by accident. Which, if you've read the series, is quite ironic.
I really fell in love with Duane's world. It seems almost realistic, as if people actually live in an underground world of wizardry. Her adolescent characters most definitely refleft how we all feel at one point; insecure, confused. Nothing like, as someone has previously mentioned, the cookie cutter, courageous, hero of most epic tales.
It is most definitely worth the read, as is the rest of the Young
Otavio Galileu
This was such a great book! I loved the mix of Fantasy and Science Fiction (something I haven't seen in Middle-Grade at all!), and the characters were just so fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes middle grade books and is who enjoys their Fantasy to have a bit of Science Fiction.
Mar 25, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mark-reads, year-2016
Well, that was quite an enjoyable (and harrowing) ride, and I am quite unprepared for the next book. Bring it on!
This wasn't available to me in my formative years (when I would probably have adored it), so in my withered old age I found it a tad... boring. In the second, action-packed half, at least.
Aug 07, 2016 Chocolategoddess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, borrowed
If I'd read this when I was younger then it would be five stars. It's awesome.

Nita's a bullied teenager with a pretty miserable life until she finds a book called So You Want To Be A Wizard in the library. The book teaches her how to be a wizard. While doing wizardry, she meets a boy called Kit and a sentient white hole with a burping problem called Fred. Together they do magical stuff, visit other worlds, and talk to trees.

This is basically your perfect kid's fantasy story. There's so much incr
It has been ridiculously hot lately (I may have mentioned that a few hundred times?) and I’ve found that my concentration isn’t what it should be. I had to give up on Summer of Jest because I couldn’t handle the unexpected sadness I felt while reading, and even though I’ve mostly been reading things I love so far this summer, I needed something that would get me out of this slump I’ve been in.

So I scrolled through the list of things I’ve been meaning to re-read, knowing that I needed something I
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Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and a
More about Diane Duane...

Other Books in the Series

Young Wizards (10 books)
  • Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards, #2)
  • High Wizardry (Young Wizards, #3)
  • A Wizard Abroad (Young Wizards, #4)
  • The Wizard's Dilemma (Young Wizards, #5)
  • A Wizard Alone (Young Wizards, #6)
  • Wizard's Holiday (Young Wizards, #7)
  • Wizards at War (Young Wizards, #8)
  • A Wizard of Mars (Young Wizards, #9)
  • Games Wizards Play (Young Wizards, #10)

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“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” 4586 likes
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