"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-...more"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 much the story touched me the first time I read it. And it still does.
There are so many things in this book that, even as an adult, I can relate to: from Nita's isolation and finding solace in books to the desire to become, to be and to do something more, something beyond imagining, being so strong that even danger and death seem worth the risk. I cannot even begin to count how many times, or how intensely, I've wished throughout my life for something to come along and turn my world upside down, set me off on some crazy ass adventure and make everything new and exciting. And reading about an introverted, socially awkward, oft-misunderstood geek who stumbles across a mysterious book and suddenly finds herself immersed in a world (or two) of wizardry and wonder (and some terror and heartache) allows me to live my fantasy vicariously through a younger, fictional, sort-of alter ego.
Another thing I absolutely adore about this book--and the Young Wizards series in general--is that Diane Duane never assumes that the readers (her target audience being kids roughly, I'd say, 10-14) won't "get it" just because they're young. She doesn't dumb anything down, doesn't shy away from using or making up big words, and she doesn't water down her prose into that succinct but ineloquent simplicity sometimes found in young adult novels. Yet she's managed to weave a tale that is not only beautiful and sometimes lyrical in its elegance (I truly loved how she described the trees talking in leafrustle and fireflicker), but also accessible.
Duane also deserves kudos for creating one of the most original characters ever. I mean, in what other book are you going to find a freaking white hole as a central character? And, oh, how I adore Fred.
"You people are so fragile. A little gamma radiation will ruin your whole day, it seems."
Who can not love a wise-cracking and often endearingly clueless space phenomenon who has a bad habit of spontaneously emitting cosmic rays? Not I, my friends, not I.
Did I mention that I adore this book? I do. And if you're looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, strangely reaffirming adventure to sink your teeth into, or if you're trying to find something to fill the gaping wound...er...void left after Harry Potter and the Book That Tore My Heart to Pieces, Covered Them in Petrol, Set Them on Fire and Danced a Merry Jig All Over the Bloody Ashes, Goddamn You, Joann (otherwise known as Deathly Hallows), I highly recommend SYWBW and the rest of the Young Wizards series.(less)
Okay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the...moreOkay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the way she conveyed the experience of being a whale. There was no awkwardness at all (except in the beginning, for Nita) and nothing seemed forced or silly. It all felt perfectly natural, and comfortable, and utterly fantastic, as if I could truly imagine what it would be like to be a whale. And by the end of the book, it seemed so normal for Nita to be in whale-form that whenever she was in human-form it felt unnatural. Hell, it felt unnatural for me to be in human-form.
I’m really sad that I can’t spend my days swimming around and singing tales of glory and sorrow in whalesong and hugging other whales by brushing them with my flukes or whatever.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is that I absolutely loved Deep Wizardry, and if I had to choose, I’d have to say that I liked this better than So You Want to Be a Wizard. Duane’s style in this book is fantastic. You can definitely see a difference between DW and its predecessor, but in a good way, like she really came into her own during the interim. I absolutely adored her mixture of simplicity in places where it’s not only necessary, but achingly perfect, and lyrical elegance in others, which come together to weave a story that’s both beautiful and heartbreaking.
And Nita and Kit really came into their own, too, which is another highlight of the book. The action was not quite as fast-paced in this as in SYWBW, allowing Duane the opportunity to really flesh out Nita’s and Kit’s personalities--their strengths, their flaws, their idiosyncrasies and charming little nuances--without disrupting the flow of the story. And I loved that because this is a very powerful and touching story, on several levels, but I don’t think that it would have hit me so fully and moved me the way it did if I hadn’t felt so close to the characters. However, both Nita and Kit (who didn’t get a lot of character development in the first book) really grew on me throughout DW; I cared about them, in a way that I don’t typically care about a lot of characters, and my heart literally ached for them toward the end of the book. I felt Nita’s despair, her turmoil, she and Kit’s courage, their triumph, their joy, everything, and that made the book just that much more beautiful to me.
The only thing that I didn’t care for was that Nita’s parents turned into raving psychopaths in this book. Okay, well, maybe not psychopaths as such. But her mother was definitely annoying to nth degree, what with her raging hypochondria (was this an epidemic among women in the 1980s? I’ve noticed a trend), and her father was no better, considering he didn’t seem to even attempt to be rational about the situation. I mean, I know that some YA writers will blow situations out of proportion because that’s how their target readers see them--kids often view their parents’ decisions as being insensible, unfair, and even outrageous. But I don’t think that’s the case here, and despite being a grown-up myself, even I don’t see the logic in taking your family (plus one) to the beach for vacation, then throwing a holy fit when the kids spend so much time...*gasp*...ON THE BEACH. And how dare they go swimming! You’re not supposed to go swimming when you’re at the beach!
Oy. If I ever spawn any miniature humanoids (though I shudder at the thought), I hope I don’t end up like that.
But I can conceded that this was probably a necessary bit of ridiculousness to facilitate the Big Reveal, even though I think it could have been handled a bit better. And since Nita’s parents end up being pretty cool at the end, once they figure out that Nita and Kit are not, in fact, out doing the nasty, but just doing wizardry (and working a crazy powerful spell that once blew an entire tectonic plate and continental landmass to shit, and battling against the ultimate Big Bad, the Lone Power, who’s basically Satan except he exponentially took a level in Badass, but whatever, at least they're not having THE SEX), all is forgiven.
All in all, Deep Wizardry is absolutely beautiful, a compelling story with great action, fantastic imagery, interesting characters--especially Ed! I never thought I could adore a shark so--and a message that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you like fantasy, do yourself a favor and read this book.(less)
High Wizardry is probably my least favorite of the Young Wizards series. It was a fun, fast read, but much of the story seemed rather extraneous. Larg...moreHigh Wizardry is probably my least favorite of the Young Wizards series. It was a fun, fast read, but much of the story seemed rather extraneous. Large portions of the narrative are taken up with unnecessary descriptions of an outdated OS, most of which I could have done without, and overall it simply lacks the same quality of layering as in So You Want to Be a Wizard and Deep Wizardry. As a result, it didn't even seem like anything important started happening until around the latter third of the book, and I came away feeling like there could have been a lot more to the story than there was.
Also, the majority of the book centers around Dairine. I actually kind of like her (except for her name, which sounds like some kind of low-fat dairy product or something), so this wouldn't really have bothered me if not for the fact that Nita and Kit got so little screen time. I love their dynamic, and I really enjoy watching them come into their own both in their wizardry and as individuals in that coming-of-age sort of way that's just right and not too clichéd or cheesy. But more than that, I've become so invested in their ongoing adventures through the first two books, and in their struggles against the Big Bad, that I felt rather cheated by Duane making them little more than a sideshow in Dairine's Ordeal circus, especially considering that this appeared to be such a critical turning point in the fight against the Lone Power.
That being said, I actually loved the latter fourth of the book. Not just because Dairine takes about ten levels in badass and lays the smack-down on the Lone Baddie--although that is pretty awesome--but largely because it's such a powerful story of change and redemption. It has always bothered me how many writers (and people in general regarding real life) seem to operate on the principle that, once a person crosses a certain moral event horizon, they can never turn back. You can't change; you're damned forever. But here's the thing: people change all the time. They don't always change for the better, and oftentimes it might not be very noticeable, but they do change. And I adore Diane Duane for straying from the well-laid path and instead conveying the idea that, even if you're the biggest, baddest motherfucker in the whole of time, space, and the entire freaking multiverse, you can change. It won't be easy, and it won't undo the damage you've done, but you can still make that choice and work to redeem yourself.
Whatever my other issues with this book, there's an important story here that needed to be told. Kudos to Ms. Duane for having the vision to tell it, and for doing it beautifully.(less)
Oh dear, sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster. Why the fuck was this on my to-read shelf for, like, three years? Wait, no, I remember. I make poor life choi...moreOh dear, sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster. Why the fuck was this on my to-read shelf for, like, three years? Wait, no, I remember. I make poor life choices. Obviously.
I did actually start to read this at one point. Don't judge me. I was trying to keep my mind off the fact that my father had just died, and this just happened to be lying around, courtesy of my then-thirteen year old niece. And I was like, hey, you know, everybody keeps telling me that I should give this crap a chance, so maybe it's not as bad as I've heard. Surely, I thought, it can't hurt to give it a look.
That is time and brain cells I will never get back, my friends. Thank god I didn't actually finish the book, or the damage might have been irreparable. Instead of writing this review, I could be lying in a hospital somewhere in a vegetative state, the only sign of life my convulsive twitching whenever someone approaches with something that sparkles. But, fortunately for my gray matter, I only made it to about page 50, or whenever it is that Bella starts tediously recounting her first day at her new high school, by which point I was like:
(For the record, I would pay obscene amounts of money to see Dean Winchester give Edward Cullen what he deserves.)
Seriously. I couldn't. I just couldn't. I could feel the will to live draining out of me with each sentence. It's not that Stephenie Meyer is a bad writer...wait, yeah, that's exactly what it is. Stephenie Meyer is a fucking disgrace. This reminds me of the shit I used to scribble fervently into Lisa Frank notebooks when I was twelve. You know, back when I was angsty and hormone-addled and devoted a large portion of my young life to writing Hanfic and--you know what? Never mind. Let's just say it was bad. Really bad. And this is like that, only kind of worse, because Meyer is a grown woman.
Despite that, I was, at some point, going to actually try to finish this book. Not because I really wanted to, but because somebody that I used to know and trust (another mistake, as I would come to find out far too late) kept insisting that I should because Edward is such a good character and Meyer, for all her obvious ineptitude as a writer, at least got that right. Ugh. The things we put up with for pussy, am I right? Fortunately, I don't have that problem anymore, so I can finally, and with absolutely no remorse or feelings of guilt whatsoever, wash my hands of this book. Considering that I haven't forgotten about it so much as I've been strenuously avoiding it for the past three years, I think it's safe to say that I will never finish this godforsaken piece of garbage, nor do I feel as if I'm missing out on anything.
In short: BAD. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. MAKE BETTER LIFE CHOICES.(less)