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Young Wizards #1

So You Want to Be a Wizard

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Nita Callahan is at the end of her rope because of the bullies who've been hounding her at school... until she discovers a mysterious library book that promises her the chance to become a wizard. But she has no idea of the difference that taking the Wizard's Oath is going to make in her life. Shortly, in company with fellow beginner-wizard Kit Rodriguez, Nita's catapulted into what will be the adventure of a lifetime—if she and Kit can both live through it. For every wizard's career starts with an Ordeal in which he or she must challenge the one power in the universe that hates wizardry more than anything else: the Lone Power that invented death and turned it loose in the worlds. Plunged into a dark and deadly alternate New York full of the Lone One's creatures, Kit and Nita must venture into the very heart of darkness to find the stolen, legendary Book of Night with Moon. Only with the dangerous power of the wizardly Book do they have a chance to save not just their own lives, but their world...

323 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1983

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About the author

Diane Duane

152 books2,261 followers
Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than forty 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 animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.

She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of more than thirty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."

(From her official website)

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,264 reviews
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,619 reviews4,955 followers
June 24, 2017
So you want to stop being bullied, you just want some time to yourself, to read, to do what you want to do, to even make a friend maybe? You find a book and it tells you how. Your book will take you places. Dealing with bullies after reading this book becomes such a small thing. Being the person you want to be and doing the things you want to do is so much more important!

So you want to learn how to do wizardly things, talk to trees and suchlike, make things happen, meet new beings, maybe find that lost pen? Your book will show you how. It will turn magic into science and you will summon not a demon but a star; your new friend will have his own familiar too, not a beast but a car. A star and a car. They will take you far!

So you want to discover new worlds? How about Hell? Or a twisted version of our world full of horror and hopelessness which may as well be hell. It may not be the adventure you wanted but it is an adventure nonetheless. You and your friend will have to figure things out, and very quickly - it's a good thing you both are smart. You will learn important lessons on this adventure, like sometimes people you love will die. And that's a hard lesson to learn!

So you saw this on kindle unlimited for the remarkable price of free and you thought, hey that's on my list, why not? You also thought that this would be pretty okay, you haven't heard much about it but then there's this surprisingly real slice of life and this surprising bit of diversity (in the 80s!) and then that other bit of diversity (a gay couple? maybe? in an 80s book for kids!) and the surprisingly science-y way of using magic and the surprisingly bleak and hallucinogenic adventure that comes from searching for a lost pen (of all things!) and the surprising lack of adults or aslans to the rescue (but lots of trees and statues!) and then, surprise surprise, you've realized you just started a whole new series that promises a whole lot of pleasure!

So you want to read a kid's book that starts off like any good kid's book but slowly becomes something more resonant than you expected, darker and more tragic and yet still light and life-affirming? I suggest you read this book!
Profile Image for carol..
1,501 reviews7,547 followers
December 13, 2017
Why yes, yes I do.

Based on the title, I expected something rather light and possibly silly. What I got was something more substantial, an old middle-grade book/YA book that suddenly had me recalling A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Somehow I missed this one when I was younger, which is too bad. An enthusiastic review from a friend (thanks, Allie!) alerted me to this deficiency and I decided to rectify it.

"She strolled between shelves, looking at titles, smiling as she met old friends--books she had read three times or five times or a dozen. Just a title, or an author's name, would be enough to summon up happy images. Strange creatures like phoenixes and psammeads, moving under smoking London daylight of a hundred years before... starships and new worlds and the limitless vistas of interstellar night..."

Nita, short for Juanita, is regularly bullied and abused by neighborhood kids, finding herself almost helpless to prevent it. As she is running away, she darts into the library for safety and finds herself walking through the children's section, greeting books like old friends. One jumps out at her: So You Want to Be a Wizard? and she finds herself intrigued by what she reads. Perhaps it can help keep her safe from bullying? The wizard's book is divided into sections, and the read book follows those guidelines. 'Prologue,' 'Preliminary Exercises,' Research and Development,' etc. In short order, she meets another bullied kid, Kat, and starts working with him to retrieve a pen stolen from Nita in her latest attack. Events quickly escalate.

There's a lot to like here; a male and female lead that aren't involved in a romantic relationship, Kat's Latino heritage, parents that are supportive but mildly inept, astrophysics, mild fart humor, and kids saving the world. I thought the meta-themes of responsibility, compassion and choices well done. Added bonus for talking to trees and a . I loved the affection for libraries and books so evident in the first chapter. I thought the dialogue had an organic feel.

What isn't to like is that Duane seems to still have some period sexism going on, generally possibly explained by the fact that Kat discovers his book sooner, except that it still felt... off. There's also a lot of extraneous writing where a paragraph literally takes up a page and a half, particularly at the end battle. Plot development is a bit disjointed; I think even as a youth, it would have seemed odd to me to draw my sand in the line over an astronaut pen, but maybe not. The skill level of the two young wizards grows exponentially; they literally prepare for the big adventure by reading thirty chapters in one night. Because a lot of times Nita and Kat use Wizard Speech, the dialogue markers are in parenthesis, which may be confusing to less sophisticated readers.

On the balance, however, good completely outweighs the bad. I bet I would have loved it when I was younger, and I can absolutely see giving the sequel a try.

Three and a half stars, rounding up at the request of Young carol.

See also mark monday's review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 93 books82.9k followers
November 2, 2008
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!
Profile Image for Kewpie.
136 reviews14 followers
January 22, 2008
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 to a very dark and creepy world.

While on the surface, you might think it sounds a lot like Harry Potter, but it isn't. The book has a totally different tone and many people who like HP books don't like this one. I liked it though. It's a totally different "world" with totally different magic and it feels more like a comic book than anything else.
Profile Image for Daniella Houghton .
94 reviews72 followers
January 9, 2009
"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.
Profile Image for Ash.
122 reviews135 followers
April 4, 2020
Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series is an old favorite. I’m pretty sure this is my third time rereading it, and I enjoy it just as much - if not more - each time.

So You Want to Be a Wizard defies age categorization. The protagonist, Nita, is thirteen, and from the outside, everything about the book seems to fit neatly into the middle grade category. But once you start reading, you run into some language and concepts that, when I first read this book as a preteen, went over my head. I would compare it to Madeleine L’Engle’s books in that respect. The end result is a series I’ve been able to enjoy at every stage of life.

In So You Want to Be a Wizard, Duane introduces a complex magic system and a multifaceted world that unfolds gradually with each book. She blends fantasy and science fiction in a way that’s destined to appeal to fans of both genres, like myself. My younger self was drawn in by the relatable characters and with every subsequent reread I’ve developed a stronger grasp of subject matter that previously escaped me. There’s nothing quite like a book you can revisit again and again and still gain something from each time.

Speaking of relatable characters, I have to gush about the protagonist, Nita Callahan. Nita is a bookish young teen, bullied by her peers for her smart mouth and nerdy inclinations. I had a lot in common with Nita the first time I read this book and I think that’s why she’s still, to this day, one of my favorite characters. Her fellow young wizard, Kit Rodriguez, is equally likable, and each side character comes to life with a unique personality.

The only flaw in this book – and it’s not even enough of a flaw for me to take a star off my rating – is that Duane has a tendency to wax philosophical, and it can get a bit much. In small doses, it adds to the grandiosity of the story, but when laid on too thick, it’s distracting and overwrought. There are only a few places in So You Want to Be a Wizard where this happens, though, so I’m able to overlook it.

I would describe this book as charming and eccentric, yet simultaneously dark and deep. I’ve never read anything else like it. I’m looking forward to rereading book two. This series is definitely a comfort series for me, one I reread again and again because it brings me so much joy.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
491 reviews40 followers
July 22, 2022
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't tell what was going on). The analogy she used to explain what the situation was like, paraphrased: "It was like a cement rose unfolding, or like being at a party where everyone wants to tell you their life story." I just was stumped by how those analogies work together, and also by how that was supposed to explain the situation.
Profile Image for Adam.
125 reviews15 followers
November 23, 2009
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.

And then just to completely throw the reader, the other characters all talk like incredibly wise people, and 'Fred's' language seems pretty advanced. There are passages where Nita describes Entropy, which (at least at my school) wasn't tackled until the 11th grade, but she's supposed to be 13...

My initial impression is that the novel can't decide what age demographic it wants to aim at, and it's all over the place.


Oh and Carl and Tom don't seem like just room mates. Just sayin'.

***********************************************

Nov 22nd 2009

This book hits a huge wall around page 200 and becomes slow.
Like, really, really, really, slow.
It's like a snail and a jar of marmalade reproduced and then that offspring mated with a sloth/really-boring-Sunday-school-lecture hybrid.
I'm not even sure how Duane pulled that off because there is so much action in the second half that it could have filled up three novels worth of climaxes.

There were a couple of moments where I had to go back and reread passages, because the characters suddenly had an intense knowledge of magic for no reason (Well... the reason was that they read about 30 chapters virtually overnight and somehow memorized it all). It really took me out of the experience.

Also, younger wizards are stronger than older wizards? uhh... that's one of the dumbest concepts I've ever heard of.
Here's why:

1. That would mean that as time progresses the wizard would get weaker, which is not only ridiculous, but makes no sense. The more you practice something, the better you get. How could you possibly be good at something you've never done before, and then not improve through practice? How frustrating would that be?!

2. It's a cheap plot device. "Why are Nita and Kit able to do all this stuff, but the other wizards can't?" "'cause they're younger, thasswhy!"

3. It means that as the book series progresses (...yuck...), the stories would, theoretically, get more boring because the magic is less complex.


The majority of the second half of the book feels like Nita whining for Kit to save her, and he does. The world they fall into is supposed to be filled with nightmarish creatures and scare Nita and Kit (and presumably anyone who accidentally winds up there), but I've felt more chills walking in downtown Montréal at night. Perytons, which were supposed to be horrifying creatures of blah blah blah, were bland and anything but menacing.

Nita is virtually useless, except to calm down Fred, who's almost as useless, though occasionally he'll fart and scare the bad guys. At least Fred's good for a laugh!

Nita freaks out one moment, then immediately pulls herself together enough to comfort Fred... umm.. what?

Fred is the ONLY redeeming character in this book, and even that statement is a stretch.

If you really want to experience magic, check out Harry Potter or the Bartimaeus trilogy.

And saying "This book is older than Harry Potter!" is a BS argument because a lack of Potter influence doesn't excuse SYWTBAW from being this crappy. It could have set precedent so we'd compare Harry Potter to SYWTBAW. Instead it's the other way around.

Seriously Nita, Kit, you did all that to get a pen back?!



PS: Redeeming features:

-Rant-ability
-Different Magic system (though poorly described)
-Fred
-LOL unintended but ever present Misogynism, perfect if you have to do a project on "sexist themes in Children's literature" or something of the like.
Profile Image for Mrelia.
50 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2007
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 characters found in much juvenile fiction.

I also fell that the way Ms. Duane portrays courage, friendship, trust and sacrifice in these books teaches a positive lesson to the young readers in an entertaining (and almost subliminal) way.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,006 reviews348 followers
July 20, 2014
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 it to do. It sounds simple and intuitive, but deep enough to take years, or a lifetime, to truly master. And yet, I know that everything I liked about this book I would have loved if I'd read it at age twelve, and much that I was apathetic towards I would have liked. Some books should just hit you at the right time of your life, or miss their chance to really take hold.
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,518 reviews97 followers
September 5, 2018
GODDAMMIT DIANE DUANE STOP PUNCHING ME IN THE HEART!

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.

THEY ALL LIED! I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING!

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 discover. She soon finds another young wizard, Kit, who is also being bullied because of his accent and his brown skin. They befriend each other and start learning magic together, and then horrible and wonderful things start to happen.

First, this is NOT Harry Potter. I don't know if JK Rowlings read this series before writing her own, but there are some elements that are similar in both. Aside from the obvious (magic) there is a one-who-must-not-be-named, dragons, time travel, and two protagonists who just don't fit in and they're in school together. But that's where the similarities end. The magic here is rooted in the principles of science, the wizards are charged with slowing the destruction of the universe (all of them), and Nita and Kit have to deal with all this while going to school, dealing with bullies and hiding this from their families. Oh, and there's a white hole named Fred, and that's the least absurd thing that happens in this book. There are Advisories, older wizards who are past their "freelancing" years and now advise younger wizards while going about ordinary lives. Potential wizards can choose for themselves if they want to take on the mantle of wizard - and they can put it aside again if they no longer feel up to the task.

Duane borrows from fantasy, horror, science fiction and mythology to create her world. There are a couple of hiccups along the way, but for the most part the world-building is amazing here, and the prose is breathtaking. Nita and Kit (and Fred) are fully developed characters and get to go on their own personal journeys. They're friends and equals, despite being a year apart (Nita's older), different genders and different races. None of that stuff matters to them. What matters is that they have each other's backs, they encourage each other, and they both have strengths they can utilize as they fight the Destroyer - who eats stars out of spite. I was fully immersed as the action started to pick up, and then I didn't want to put it down, even when Duane punched a whole in my chest, tore out my heart and proceeded to squeeze it before my eyes.

This is such a cool and amazing world Duane has created here in just one book. I don't know how I missed this series growing up, but I'm glad I'm reading it now. There is a lot of nuance here I'm sure I would've missed as a kid, and it would be hard to fully appreciate this world without picking up on that stuff. Also, the nightmare fuel. So much nightmare fuel. God, what are the other nine going to bring? I am not ready.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,588 followers
August 18, 2021
Having reread Deep Wizardry and just read Games Wizards Play, I'm absolutely fascinated by how she has managed to keep all the threads running from this very first book, which is . . . what, forty years old now? This is the first face off with the Lone Power, the repercussions of it are still coming. My kids (I read it aloud to them) loved the living helicopters and cars (the youngest) and the science based magic (the oldest). Such a treat (for me) to revisit it again after I don't know how many years!
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
July 28, 2016
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; I just skimmed the rest.

I do actually like parts of the set-up: the idea of the book that starts the main character’s journey is pretty neat, for example, and I didn’t read the characters as just default white kids from the start — even if Kit Rodriguez’s name wasn’t a probable giveaway. I think maybe if I’d first read it when I was younger, and had that flexibility of imagination, I wouldn’t have questioned it so much and could have enjoyed it now if I was rereading it. Unfortunately, I come to this as a 27 year old about to get married, and so I just can’t engage with it on that level.

Not something I would recommend to someone my own age, but I might very well pass it to a kid young enough to feel the magic of waiting for your Hogwarts letter, or scanning the library shelves for books about what you can be when you grow up and finding a mysterious book which at first might seem like a joke, but turns out all too real…

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Emily.
687 reviews1,996 followers
October 15, 2015
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).
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books262 followers
August 17, 2020
I was surprised at how this book grabbed me in the second half. I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Lolly's Library.
318 reviews87 followers
April 18, 2016
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 on the "magic" used in the story; it seemed more like physics or calculus to me. I'm sorry, but when I want to read about physics, I'll read Stephen Hawking. I don't want to stumble through it in a childrens' book. It's not the fact that magic is equated with science that gave me pause, it's the manner in which the author narrated its use. The analogies and descriptions she gave of its workings had me scratching my head, rereading paragraph after paragraph, and always with the same result: "Huh? What the hell is she talking about?" The only way I got through it was to gloss over such descriptions: "Okay, they did something and now they're in a parallel world... Oh, look, cars that act like animals!" I'll also repeat what several have said before concerning the sexist attitude represented in the story; Nita seemed to require an awful lot of aid from her fellow (male, of course) wizard, Kit. She spent most of her time deferring to him, aiding his spells, looking to him for answers. Puh-lease. Not to mention the dumb-ass concept of younger wizards having more power (what?). What a lame plot device to explain the two kids' prowess with their wizardly powers.

There are a few other nitpicky points of dislike which I won't go into detail here. The only bit that really was intriguing and quite original was the character of Fred, the white hole thingy (yes, that's a techinical term). His was the most well-rounded and charismatic character in the book, with the Lotus not far behind in terms of likeability. It's pretty sad when one feels a stronger connection to non-human characters than to the human ones about which the story (supposedly) revolves.

I will be fair and give the next book a go. Perhaps the series gets better as the characters develop. If I'm wrong, however, I'll happily forgo the rest of the series and return to the books of Diana Wynne Jones and Madeleine L'Engle, forgetting I ever heard of Diane Duane. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mira Mio.
269 reviews50 followers
May 5, 2022
Соу, продолжая мой старый гайд по любимым сериям для детишек (лежит здесь t.me/miramiobooks ).

Young Wizards от Diane Duane. В серии десять книг, рецензия на первые четыре.

Вин:

☆ мир и магия. Это городское фентези про детей из Нью Йорка 90х. Первая книга в параллельном мире с разумными автомобилями, вторая в подводном мире китов, а третья на другой планете.

Очень городское фентези, кхе-кхе.

В плане магии это такая дичайшая смесь науки и волшебства, где заклинания похожи на код, у камней есть разум и своя цивилизация, собираясь на Марс лучше брать с собой воздух, а миром правят тринадцать богов.

Автор задрот, но автор задрот с фантазией и поэтичной речью. Моментами описания магии можно зачитываться, а правила заклинаний достаточно логичны, чтобы в них можно было поверить, но недостаточно предсказуемы, чтобы не осталось места для чуда и волшебства.

☆ у автора явно незакрытый гештальт смирения перед смертью, и в каждой книге так или иначе звучит эта тема: от неизбежной тепловой смерти вселенной до неожиданного ухода родителей или необходимостью принести себя в жертву ради добра со всеми вытекающими. В школу, например, больше не надо будет ходить.

Я старый солдат, но на второй книге меня каждый раз пробивает на слезу. Да, в этом мире есть прекрасное посмертие, но... Но.

☆ в героях здесь мальчик и девочка, и они во-первых, адекватные подростки с прекрасными родителями, а во-вторых, настоящие бро без вот этого всего. Насколько я поняла по рецензиям, славатебехосподи, романтики не будет аж до финальных титров десятой книги.

Фейл:

☆ серия писалась в девяностые, и на это надо делать скидку. Ни у кого нет телефонов, а компьютеры размером со шкаф и НЕВЕРОЯТНО КРУТЫ. Буллинг в школе. Расизм. Геев нет (но есть два мужика, которые абсолютно беспалевно живут в одном доме и все делят пополам, и я их шипперила в десять лет, и что вы мне сделаете).

☆ в плане бытовой жизни автор теряет романтические метафоры и ударяется в простое перечисление поел-поспал-надел футболку-��огулял с друзьями. Местами скучно.

☆ четвертая книга. Выкиньте ее нахрен. После нее автор сделала перерыв в пару лет и только потом вернулась с новой (одобряю).

Я сейчас на середине пятой и скрестила пальцы на вин.

Официальный перевод: есть у первых четырех, хороший, "Как стать волшебником" Диана Дуэйн.
Profile Image for Destinee.
1,562 reviews142 followers
July 7, 2009
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 universe where they are chased by monstrous living helicopters and cars.

Here's my biggest problem: The story got so deep so fast. The kids have only been wizards for a few weeks and suddenly they're totally alone and fighting for their lives to find the most important book in the universe? I'm barely getting to know the world Duane has created and we're already at what feels like the climax! It's like someone asking to marry you on the second date. And this date is not making you laugh. In fact, he's a little hard to follow and seems to be speaking a different language that he doesn't bother explaining to you. You are getting bored and tuning him out for whole paragraphs, but there's something about him that reminds you of an old boyfriend you still think of fondly (maybe his name was Harry? Or Charles Wallace?) and so you cut him some slack.

But let's face it: he is not what you want. It's time to move on.
Profile Image for Anita Reads.
482 reviews113 followers
September 24, 2019
This was such a fun read. There are things here and there I think could be a little better, but overall this was just such an interesting book with an interesting type of magic. Very highly recommended if you enjoy these sort of young people discovering they are wizards.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
757 reviews119 followers
April 24, 2020
Is "middle grade urban fantasy" a thing?

I read this in a collection of the first three novels in this series, titled Support Your Local Wizard and you have gots to see this cover art (embiggen as needed):

Support Your Local Wizard (Young Wizards, #1-3) by Diane Duane

This thing is exemplary of the aesthetic that Stranger Things draws from. I mean, that's basically Barb (RIP) lying on the floor. And those pleated pants! You may be able to see the troll pencil-topper on the right. To me the biggest issue is why they are wearing their running shoes inside the bedroom.

The period aesthetic is all over the text too. Lotus Esprit, anyone? If you're still not clear on what period this book is from, just consider the dedication from the sequel:
Heartfelt thanks go to Neil Harris and his erstwhile comrades at Commodore, who went crazy hooking up a desperate writer's computer to one of their printers, and who helped her hit her deadline.
The kicker for me is this bizarrely liberal concept of bullying. Thirteen-year-old Nita (short for Juanita) is routinely beat up by the more popular girls, leaving her with black eyes, swollen knee joints from targeted stomping, and more. Her parents are, like, shrug, "whatchoo gonna do?". To me this is far beyond bullying, this is felony assault, and today I would hope that the parents are calling the police and suing the crap out of the assaulter's parents. Be Best, people.

To avoid another such beating, Nita ducks into her favorite place, the library (yay!) where she comes across a book telling the reader how to be a wizard. She eventually decides it's not a joke, and after her first attempt to utilize her new knowledge, meets also-thirteen-year-old Kit (short for Christopher, everything was short for something in the 80's I guess) who is just a little bit ahead of her in his training, and in just one week they are ready to master cosmos- and reality-spanning forces in an effort to retrieve Nita's space pen. Okay, it's about more than that.

It's a tough book to pin down for age appropriateness these days. It's middle grade-ish in appeal but teen-ish in comprehension. I imagine it would have resonated most strongly in its day with kids like the protagonists; kind, brainier than was socially acceptable at the time, and honest enough not to hide it. These are kids who know offhand how long it takes sunlight to reach the Earth. The book has lots of dated cosmology, some real terms and some invented for the book. The author's affection for her characters is evident. Nita and Kit are a good pairing. The story continues through several sequels which I will not be reading. It's a sweet and smart and caring book, but it is so specific to its era of publication that it could never be a classic.

Kudos to whomever put this book facing out in an open space on my public library's SF/F shelf (catalogued in the adult section somehow), because that cover art is pure 80's gold.

UPDATE 4/24/2020: I was surprised to find a copy of this book on my home shelf! I was straightening up the children's paperbacks shelf and there it was! It either came from a library book sale or from neighbors.
Profile Image for Amy Eye.
Author 10 books74 followers
May 9, 2011
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 their heads together and in their first meeting perform a spell together that will benefit them both, or so they had hoped. In this first excursion, they pick up Fred, an adorable new friend who was once a black hole. While picking up Fred, they discover a hideous world they are anxious to escape from, the feelings of terror and vileness are palpable.

Back in their own reality, they children embark on a journey that not only leads them to powers they never dreamed of, it leads them straight back to the horrible reality they so recently escaped. The children struggle to free themselves from a land where fire hydrants eat pigeons, and helicopters try to eat humans.

I was enthralled with the book at the onset. The synopsis of the book had me ready for a marvelous fantastic adventure. What this turned out to be was more of sci-fi book with the terms magic thrown around in it in order to get in on the latest wizard bandwagon. I have heard before of magic having a place in the scientific realm - the whole shebang. But when they are transported to a land where everything is mechanical, and everything with a gear in it is evil, I feel like I am in a PG rated Terminator movie. I appreciate the original idea of it, but it simply wasn't to my taste. Someone had suggested this to me after I mentioned I wanted something to help me get over my Harry Potter fixation. If you are looking for a fantastic world of that nature, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a fantastic world that will lead you more on the Battle Star Galactica course this is what you are looking for.

When I look for magic, I'm not ready or wanting to read about mechanical things, it throws off my groove. I'm not saying this was a poorly written book, it is written very well, and anyone who is interested in more "technical" magic will fall in love with this book. But for my entertainment buck, I'll pass on the sequel.
Profile Image for Allie.
137 reviews126 followers
November 12, 2017
Long before Harry Potter, there was Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, about two lonely tweens who become wizards and best friends in a quest to save the world(s). I devoured these books in middle school, although I didn’t fully understand all of the scientific concepts that the author weaves into the story...including entropy, black holes, string theory, and the lifespan of stars. I just remember being fascinated by the exciting adventures of Kit and Nita. Re-reading this book as an adult, I’m even more impressed by how intelligent and interesting the story is for readers of all ages.

When the book starts, Nina is hiding from school bullies in the children’s section of the library. Tucked into the “career” books about becoming a doctor or firefighter, she discovers a guide to becoming a wizard. But like the knights of old, she has to first take an oath and complete an “Ordeal” that proves her valor. The work of wizards is to fight entropy throughout the universe, which is embodied in the figure of the Lone One. Drawing on myths of Lucifer, the Lone One is a fallen version of a bright star who turned his back on the Powers That Be and introduced death into the world. After taking her oath, Nita and another young wizard, a boy named Kit, face the Lone One in a corrupted alternate version of Manhattan. Accompanied by a friendly star (which has left most of its mass elsewhere) they face predatory helicopters, man-eating cars, and a very old dragon with memory loss in their quest to return a special book to its rightful place.

The world building is thoughtful, the characters are engaging, and almost every chapter has some neat and creative idea about the practice of wizardry. (I loved the world gates for travel between universes, which are managed by sentient cats in New York’s Grand Central Station.) Other books have since “borrowed” some of Duane’s ideas, such as the Speech, the universal language of power that wizards use to persuade animals, objects, and even space to do the wishes of the speaker. But I think my favorite part of the story is the celebration of friendship across stereotypical boundaries.

Highly recommended for readers of all ages and for families to read together.
Profile Image for Cait S.
897 reviews71 followers
May 11, 2016
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 dragging, there was no real plot line to speak of, and when it stopped being magical happy fun time with Kit and Nita I was like...meh. I'm out.

Sorry! I gave it a shot but on to the next young wizard series.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,210 reviews1,648 followers
May 6, 2013
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 book definitely does have quite a few similarities, and, those looking for Potter readalikes, might love this, but Duane was not one of the authors trying to ride Rowlings' success. I wonder if Rowling had read these, since certain things, like the villain being referred to as You-Know-Who were incredibly similar.

For all of that, though, So You Want to Be a Wizard reminds me much more heavily of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. There is a lot of complicated vocabulary and scientific terminology within the pages of this book that would probably be targeted to a middle grade audience today. I mean, do you know what a 'temporospatial claudication' is? I sure don't. The science-y weirdness and good versus evil messages conveyed in this novel had me thinking constantly of L'Engle's classic work. In fact, I think that if you love A Wrinkle in Time, you really ought to check this series out. I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was younger, but was not charmed by it particularly when I reread it. Science just really is not my thing, so I cannot appreciate a lot of what happens in either.

My favorite aspects of the book center around the power of the written word and love of books. There are a bunch of amazing quotes to that effect (check my favorite quote for one example). Plus, the whole concept is great. Every library has tons of those "So You Want to Be..." books, and I love how Duane built fantasy knowledge into such a seemingly simple thing.

Unfortunately, this clever device also serves as a method for info-dumping the ways of wizardry on the reader. Nita takes the library book home and devours it, attention rapt, but I did not find her reading the book nearly so enticing. This goes on for chapters. Duane tries to draw the reader in by including Nita's reactions to her reading, but these sections still dragged for me. I also feel like both Nita and Kit pick up their magical knowledge too quickly and easily. They read through their books once and can do a number of powerful spells after just a bit of practice. Plus, the spells are supposed to leave them tired, but they spend literally the last half of the book running around and doing spell after spell, even though one wiped them out the afternoon before.

As a reader, I just really struggle with books that don't place a focus on characterization. I would have loved to know more about Nita and Kit, and their daily lives. They're both clearly smart kids, and have both suffered from bullying. Rather than watching them go on a mission to retrieve Nita's stolen pen, which is really the quest of the book though it does snowball, I would have liked to see them have more personal growth, rather than just magical.

I'm really glad to have read this, because I can see how influential it has been on young adult literature, and I admire Duane for her creativity and her diverse characters. However, I do not plan to continue with the series, since I do not think I'm the ideal audience for these books. If you love A Wrinkle in Time, though, seriously, I think you will love this.
9 reviews3 followers
July 1, 2011
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 still there. I'm a writer now, more than in part due to this book, and I've realized just what an amazing author Duane is. I've read a few other reviews on here that complain that the book feels dated, that the characters have dialogue that doesn't feel real, that the descriptions don't describe, and I can only wonder at what they are talking about. To me the characters are as vivid as any in adult fiction. More so, in fact. They have dreams, fears, longings, and their dialogue is laced with little flavors of slang that I can still imagine being used somewhere today.

And as for the descriptions, the entirety of the final chapters still makes me shiver. There's one in particular that I love, one that evokes the old ancient infinity of the universe:

"She was turning the pages without even thinking about it, finding the place that spoke of creation and rebellion and war among the stars---the words that had once before broken the terrible destroying storm of death and darkness that the angry Starstuffer had raised to break the new-made worlds and freeze the seas where life was growing, an eternity ago."

It's a book I love dearly and continue to cherish every time I pick it up. Highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Aaron Dettmann.
489 reviews9 followers
January 3, 2015
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 - to keep it from being wasted. On the simplest level this includes such unmagical-looking actions as paying one's bills on time, turning off the lights when you go out, and supporting the people around you in getting their lives to work."

Oh my gosh, I wish I had given up on the book right there after that heavy-handed ridiculousness. On page 45 they magically bring a talking white hole to Earth that they name Fred. Yeah, this story keeps getting better and better. In addition, even though they have this white hole they brought to Earth, and they learn that the book that keeps everything in existence is missing, all the main character can think about is getting her ordinary pen back. Some more quotes:

p. 47: Fred talking: "It stopped bobbing, stared at her as if she had said something derogatory. (Do I look like a hole?)
p. 74:Fred talking: (...Not since I was a black hole, certainly. Black holes swallow everything, but a white hole's business is emission.)

Wait a second, he thought being referred to as a white hole was a derogatory term, but then uses it to reference himself just a few pages later!? Yeah, this book was not good.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,327 reviews451 followers
April 11, 2021
Contemporry urban fantasy for kids, starring two 12-year-olds living on Long Island. Well who doesn't want to discover a book they've never seen before at the library, one that tells you all about careers in wizarding?
It's a cool idea, and I really enjoyed reading it, but in some way I can't explain it feels dated. Like, published in '63 dated, rather than in '83, as it was.
I'm looking forward to seeing what else happens in the next book. I say that a lot, don't I? There's an inclination I don't like in myself, to assume that a series is somehow more hackneyed, less clever, less worthwhile than a stand-alone. Although, of course, I could rattle off a list of brilliant series, and a list of horrible stand-alones. Whatever the cause of the knee-jerk snobbishness, I do consider it a big deal if I want to carry on with a series, because on more than a few occasions (and mostly with mysteries, I think) I've discovered my interest waning with each new installment. I enthusiastically recommended it to the Pandabat who was reading Esperanza Rising and has a stack of other things to read, and declined.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Laura.
989 reviews13 followers
March 28, 2018
1.5 🌟
A dark and urban kind of Harry Potter that's pretty much no fun at all.

The magic is interesting but the language used ranges from the vocabulary of a 6 year old to that of a grown up which makes me really wonder who this book was actually written for.

Because of the vocabulary and writing style that seem to contradict each other, the magic of the magic sort of puffs away and a story that could have been great becomes a parody. :(
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