Julie Decker's Reviews > Games Wizards Play

Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane
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really liked it

Nita and Kit, as a team, are invited to become mentors for the Invitational, a spell competition that finds promising new talent and pairs them with more experienced wizards to develop useful spells and encourage innovation in magic. The team's mentee, Penn, is an overconfident young man with considerable talent but a terrible attitude (especially toward women, as he keeps ignoring Nita's input and putting down her abilities while inappropriately flirting with her). With Kit and Nita's relationship being as confusing as it is, this causes even more problems. And meanwhile, Nita's younger sister Dairine has also been invited to mentor, and her sweet and humble-to-a-fault mentee Mehrnaz is struggling to come into her own in a wizarding sense due to expectations that she cannot hope to outshine more accomplished members of her family. As the competition ramps up and Penn and Mehrnaz make it to the finals, everyone involved begins to deal with the terrible consequences of advancing even as they also encounter amazing opportunities. Focus on strong relationships, honesty, trust, love, and a balance of respect is necessary to get through the tournament and also stay true to who and what they are.

I thought this was a fine story, and it kept me both entertained and emotionally invested throughout. With little speed bumps here and there whenever we'd get yet another update on a minor character (and there are dozens of them now, given this is book 10 of a pretty heavily populated story), the pace was a little uneven, and the ending kind of confused me because there were huge dollops of intentionally misleading foreshadowing coming through in Nita's visionary talent, which even after the ending resolved, I couldn't figure out what some of the images she saw meant. Some of the conversations Nita had with outer Planets and other teens about relationships also just kind of felt extra to me. (Especially when Nita sometimes acted like it was such a big deal to find out someone she knew wasn't straight. She's accepting, but it basically blew her mind, twice, and it felt inappropriate considering the diversity she encounters on a regular basis with literal aliens.)

I'm not annoyed by the relationships conversations or the confusion or some of the poor choices teens make regarding how they handle their romantic interactions; it's all very realistic and I like seeing the "ordinary" peek into who they are. I just also don't like feeling like they're sliding into infomercial territory explaining how these characters aren't straight or how these characters' relationship is. I can accept it from Nita because she's very confused about how her relationship is evolving. I don't so much like it when someone has very little role in the story besides showing up to broaden her horizons on boys who date boys or (my pet issue, obviously) asexual people. (An ace character pops up and even though plenty of what she says about her life is an authentic representation of one way a person can be ace, I worry that it was presented like "this kind of relationship is what asexual people do" and didn't do a great job not conflating it with celibacy or aromanticism. It's still realistic that a character would represent their own experience as typical if they're not there to do an education session on asexuality, but whenever you tiptoe into representation like this, you have to be pretty careful about what you say and how you say it. There aren't enough examples yet for generalizations to survive as useful representation.)

I'm still pretty invested in these characters and want to see who they become as adults. And I enjoyed seeing how wizardry would work into an overall life discipline rather than as a thing some people do to avert disasters now and then. Career wizards are all over the place and this book gave a bigger picture of what that can look like.
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Reading Progress

January 26, 2016 – Shelved
January 26, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
October 28, 2019 – Started Reading
November 19, 2019 – Finished Reading

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