Reviews for Witch and Wizard

Booklist Reviews 2009 December #2
Although marketing muscle might make this book a hit, it's hard to believe too many readers will be satisfied with the confusing blend of sorcery and political dystopia. Fifteen-year-old Wisty and her 18-year-old brother Whit are awoken one night by troops from the newly elected N.O. (New Order) regime. The siblings are chained, tossed into a prison, and accused of being a witch and wizard--a charge that seems preposterous until Wisty envelops her body in flames and is no worse for wear. With the help of Whit's dead girlfriend (who exists in a limbo known as the Shadowland), the teens escape to a bombed-out department store where a teen resistance movement fights the dastardly N.O. Wisty and Whit are standard-issue teen smart alecks, the baddies are stock villains who use phrases like "dangerous fiends," and the meandering plot seems to make up the rules as it goes along. It's got an enticing prologue, though, and Patterson's trademark bite-size chapters at least keep things zippy. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2010 January
Twin siblings take Patterson readers on a supernatural thrill ride

Motivated by a desire to interest his son, Jack, in reading, super-successful author James Patterson took his first step into young adult fiction in 2005 with the Maximum Ride series, which--like his books for adults--soared straight to the top of bestseller lists. Now the seemingly tireless Patterson is launching a new series for teen readers with the supernatural adventure story Witch & Wizard. The heroes are twin 15-year-olds Wisty (a witch) and Whit (a wizard), whose teenaged existence is rudely interrupted by the arrival of henchmen representing The New Order, a totalitarian regime bent on suppressing any hint of nonconformity. We reached the prolific Patterson at his home office in Palm Beach, Florida, to ask about the new book, his efforts to get kids excited about reading and more. The New Order likely would not approve.

Witch & Wizard paints a foreboding picture of what the world would be like if innovation and curiosity were criminal. What inspired you to tell this story?

The idea for The New Order came about after thinking, what would it be like to have all art, music and freedom of expression taken away? And what if the youth were somehow enabled to fight back for these freedoms that they hold so dear?

What sort of research did you do for the book?

You'll find that the book is eerily similar to a lot that has happened in recent history. It's real scary stuff--and scarier still is that people really have enforced such laws outside of Whit and Wisty's fictitious world.

What do you hope readers will get out of Witch & Wizard?

I don't really do messages, but I do like a good story. And I hope readers get lost in this one. The book introduces a new world--or worlds, actually--and a strong, fiery brother-and-sister duo. They learn they are a little different when their powers start up, powers that are enhanced as the world around them gets more dangerous. For those who have been waiting for a series as mouthwatering and addictive as Harry Potter, this'll do it.

Did your son give you any interesting and/or surprising feedback?

Jack is a tough critic. I usually come to him with the finished package and pray that he likes it.

Were you an avid reader as a child?

Although I was a very good student (and high school valedictorian) growing up in Newburgh, New York, I had very little interest in reading for enjoyment--at least initially. I only read when I was required to read. Later in college, when I took a night-shift job at a local hospital to help pay my tuition, I started reading a lot. That's when I fell in love with books.

How does the child and teen you were then inform your books for young readers today?

I always had a creative spirit. It was when I was older, working at that hospital, that I realized I couldn't go any longer without writing down all the wild stuff I was witnessing.

What kills me is that so many kids, like me as a boy, miss out on the joy of reading. I believe we should spend less time worrying about the quantity of books children read and more time introducing them to quality books that will turn them on and then them into lifelong readers--they'll thank us for it.

Do you have a different approach to writing your books for young readers vs. writing your adult fiction?

I don't discriminate against ideas on the basis of the audiences they're best for.  I like to think I do romances when it's a romantic storyline, I do thrillers when they're thrilling, and I write for kids when the idea for a story would work best with them. The various characters bring about the books' differences more than a conscious decision to write a different way.

What do you hope to accomplish with your children's book website,

We need to let parents know on a regular basis that "good parents give great books." It's surprising how many people don't really think to do that; they rely on schools, or think the reading habit will kick in on its own. ReadKiddoRead lists only the best books out of the thousands of children's books published every year--it's an easy tool for parents to see what's out there that will actually work to get their kids engaged. I also talk to a lot of great authors, and we give away free books every month.

Will there be more Whit and Wisty books? Any tidbits you can share?

Assuming they make it out alive in the first . . . yes, there will be more.

What's next?

Stay tuned for an illustrated series I'm working on about middle school. And the sixth book in the Maximum Ride series, Fang, will be out in March.

Photo by Kelly Campbell.


Our 2009 holiday interview with Patterson

Review of Patterson's first nonfiction book, The Murder of King Tut

Search James Patterson on

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
In alternating voices, brother and sister Whit and Wisty describe their fight against a fascist regime that has recently come to power. Along the way, the kids are accused of being a wizard and a witch, respectively, and they develop supernatural powers. The story's magical system is underdeveloped, but the fast-paced plot may hook action-fantasy fans. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 November #2
In a parallel world, a new political party, the New Order, has come to power. Its leader, The One Who Is The One, hates children, those with imagination and magic users. Unbeknownst to teenage siblings Wisteria and Whitford Allgood, they are powerful magic users. The New Order arrests, imprisons, tests, tortures and sentences them to death. Thankfully, they're rescued by the teen resistance to fight another day for the good of all levels of reality, as they must survive to fulfill a great prophecy. In a series of mercifully short chapters narrated by two indistinguishable teens, megaseller Patterson, with co-author Charbonnet in tow, kicks off his latest series for younger audiences with a completely derivative blast of capital letters and exclamation points. The dialogue rings as true as a plastic bell, and the scant prose is so purple it's ultraviolet. Flimsy characters are slammed around a plot that lacks any internal logic. No clichť is left unused in this insulting-to-its-audience, nonsensical flapdoodle. You'll have to purchase it due to the ad campaign and author-branding, just don't invest too heavily--save your dollars for better. (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 November #3

Patterson (the Maximum Ride books) and Charbonnet launch a new series about political and cultural oppression, which suffers from some questionable storytelling choices. Ordinary teenagers Whit and Wisty are taken from their house by representatives of the oppressive "New Order." Accused of being a wizard and a witch, they're thrown in a dank prison to await execution. While there they begin to master previously unknown powers and, thanks to some otherworldly help, they manage to escape and are united with the resistance movement. The authors rely on coincidence and plot holes--each teen is allowed to bring one possession into the otherwise barbaric jail, and thus end up with magical implements. The story is further undercut by frequent recapping and short chapters, alternately narrated by the siblings, which break up the narrative for no perceivable reason. There's some fun world-building, including a stream of thinly disguised pop culture references in Wisty and Whit's alternate world (from the books of Gary Blotter to the artist Margie O'Greeffe), but even these are inconsistent (their world also includes Red Bull and the adjective Dickensian) and come across as groaners. Ages 10-up. (Dec.)

[Page 55]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 March

Gr 5-9--Wisty and Whit Allgood have magical powers, but they don't know it. At least they don't know until they are arrested by the guards of the New Order, which has just come to power. Their parents have always been into herbs and plants and predictions; they don't send their kids to typical schools, and when the teens are allowed to take only one item each to jail with them, they send a drumstick and a book with no words that are visible to the naked eye. The kids start to get an inkling of what they can do when Wisty bursts into flames when she gets angry, and before long she is turning people into creatures and conjuring tornadoes, and lightning bolts shoot from her hands. The bulk of the book takes place when Whit and Wisty are locked up in a reformatory where they are bullied by the guards. The chapters are only one to three pages in length and alternate between the two main characters' points of view. The action doesn't really pick up until the last third of the book, when the siblings make their escape. Readers expecting something akin to Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series (Little, Brown) are bound to be disappointed, but the groundwork is set for subsequent volumes that might make wading through the first one worthwhile.--Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO

[Page 165]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 February
Brother and sister Whit and Wisty awaken one morning to the sound of soldiers marching down the street and straight up to their house. Within seconds, the door is in splinters and the dumbfounded family is rounded up. Wisty, in her struggle to get away, suddenly bursts into flames, injuring the soldiers around her. When the flames subside, the two teenagers are shoved into a van and driven away as their devastated parents watch. So begin the Allgood family's troubles with the New Order--a military-type new government that is rounding up kids who are suspected of having special powers. Whit and Wisty are informed at their trial that they are a wizard and a witch, and they are sentenced to death. They had no idea. The ensuing escapade features torture, beginner magic, daring escapes, a prophecy, rats, ghosts, and forever running from the leader of the New Order--The One Who Is The One This first volume of a planned series sets the scene well, building a world of hidden realities and following the protagonists as they learn to use their magical powers. Readers will hope that the many unanswered questions will be addressed in subsequent volumes. The only problem here is the tone of the piece--written in the first person in alternating chapters between wise-cracking Whit and back-talking Wisty. Readers never get the feeling that these are real youth in danger. More interesting elements of this new world order are not well-developed, but young Patterson fans will be thrilled to jump into this new adventure.--Laura Lehner 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.