jml's notebook

Review: So You Want to be a Wizard

I reached out for this book because I was feeling pretty glum, and wanted the solace of some good YA fiction: adventure, hope, nothing too grim, and home in time for tea.

So You Want to be a Wizard provided all of that (a welcome relief!), but isn't going to stand out as an all time fave. It's got a kind of heavy handedness that I think I would have appreciated had I read it when I was ten or eleven, but find a bit plodding now.

For example, Nita's good with plants and Kit's good with machines. Nita consciously notices this several times, and wonders if those will be their respective specialties. It's the sort of thing I thought a lot as a thirteen year old (alas, my specialty in wizardry has yet to reveal itself), but as someone in my mid-thirties, I don't need to be told, and when I am, I want to take Nita gently aside and tell her that "You're essentially X, and I am essentially Y" thoughts are just not helpful.

Points awarded for a magical, dearly loved city, even if it's the wrong city. Also for good, no big deal, character diversity.

Nita's "If" at the end is a very powerful idea that I wish were executed better. I hope the sequels make more of this, but I'm not going to rush to find out.

I think I'll dip into Madeleine L'Engle next time I want to read YA. Until then, I'll continue to heartily recommend Diana Wynne Jones, and keep this one as a backstop.