Witch & Wizard Review
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Though James Patterson is best known for his fast-paced crime thrillers—like those in his best-selling Alex Cross series—the impressively prolific author also loves writing books for kids. His Maximum Ride series is a favorite among young readers—and his Daniel X series has become one of my own personal favorites, too. But Witch & Wizard, the first in Patterson and co-author Gabrielle Charbonnet’s new supernatural series for kids, often feels a little bit too familiar.

The story begins with a bang—when, in the middle of the night, 17-year-old Whitford Allgood and his 15-year-old sister, Wisteria, are hauled out of bed and dragged off to an all-kid prison. Accused of wizardry and witchcraft, the siblings are quickly brought in front of The One Who Judges and sentenced to death once they turn 18. For Whit, that’s just a month away.

Baffled by the charges—and fearing for both themselves and their parents—Whit and Wisty soon discover that they’re prisoners of the New Order, a powerful political party that has taken control. The New Order is all about order—and they’re against art, imagination, and magic—so fun-loving kids like Whit and Wisty are some of their first targets.

But, then again, Whit and Wisty might not be just any kids. After Wisty discovers her ability to burst into flames and Whit finds that he can control things with his mind, they start to wonder if there’s more to this whole witch-and-wizard thing than they once thought.

In Witch & Wizard, Patterson and Charbonnet introduce young readers to a couple of seemingly normal kids who happen to have some surprising magical powers. Though they’re not developed as well as they could have been, friendly jock Whit and teen rebel Wisty are likeable young characters. They could be any teenagers—which will make the book fun for young readers.

Still, the set-up of Witch & Wizard is just a bit too obvious. The story—which follows a couple of normal kids who discover that they’re actually a powerful witch and wizard—is just a bit too Harry Potter for my liking. And the fact that the pair of main characters (a boy and a girl) are slightly older than Harry and his friends (perhaps to attract aging Potter fans) feels rather contrived. Sure, the industry’s looking for the next Harry Potter—but the series’ originality helped to make it a hit. And Witch & Wizard, unfortunately, isn’t all that original.

Had the story been developed well, though, Witch & Wizard still could have made for a thrilling read—and, at times, it’s just that. It definitely has its share of action and nail-biting suspense—but it often gets bogged down in plot holes. The authors do very little to develop the story—especially as it relates to the New Order and their rise to power. And, as such, it often feels as if you’re starting somewhere in the middle of the series. There are just too many questions left unanswered.

If you’re looking for the Next Big Thing for your young reader, then, Witch & Wizard probably isn’t it. The characters are likeable, and the action is often thrilling, but the story isn’t as engrossing (or as original) as some other series for young readers. So unless your kids have a thing for witchcraft and wizardry, I recommend sticking with Patterson’s Daniel X series instead.

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