In the first chapter of So You Want to Be a Wizard, Nita learns more about magic and meets her first wizard. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of bullying, racism, and ableism.
AHHHHHH THIS IS SO EXCITING, MY FRIENDS. Look, I am always worried when I start a new book or a new show that I’ll finally get to something that just doesn’t work for me. It’s been incredibly rare that this happens anymore. Part of that’s because I really try to approach these new series with an open mind and heart. I genuinely want to understand why people like something! But I think that over the years, y’all have gotten a sense of my taste and what excites me, and you were sitting on this series, and you knew what it would do to me.
I am very thankful for that because this is FUN AS HELL.
My mind went a very specific place during the opening paragraphs of this chapter. Growing up, I had a place I used to go hide whenever I could get out of the house. Once I was able to leave the house unsupervised in middle school in order to train for long distance running, I would use this as an excuse to go a very short distance away. My mother was the type who would watch where I went with binoculars, hanging over the brick wall in our backyard with them stuck to her face until my brother and I were no longer in sight. But once we started a different schedule and I got some time alone, I would head to a willow tree located less than a quarter mile from the back wall in our yard, and I would hide underneath its long, flowing branches. I craved the solitude it provided me. There were no bullies there, no abusive mothers, no anxieties, no chance for me to doubt and hate myself. I’d spend a half hour there, timing it on my Mickey watch, and then do a quick bout of sprint until I was pouring sweat, all to make certain that no one was the wiser about what I’d been doing.
Just a couple years ago, one of my favorite bands, Propagandhi, put out a stellar record called Failed States. On it, one song hit me harder than all the others, and its immediacy has a very important parallel to Nita. She has her own “Devil’s Creek,” a place where she can be surrounded by the serenity and acceptance of nature.
It’s very comforting to know that Nita basically did the same thing as I did.
The World of Wizards
Holy worldbuilding, THERE IS SO MUCH INFORMATION HERE! Thankfully (as I said on video), Duane doesn’t overwhelm the reader. There is a lot of information in a very short span of time, but I prefer that over her dumping large swaths of worldbuilding and expecting me to remember it all. Which is funny since that’s what Nita tries to do here. And I don’t blame her!!! If I suddenly had a book like this, you better believe I’d find a quiet place to read it all in one go.
Of course, that doesn’t give her the ability to do ALL MAGIC EVER, and it’s also clear that the magical system she now has access to is deeply, deeply complex. Alternate earths!!! The Horseman’s Word! The Mason’s Word! THE MAGICAL CREATURES THAT CAUSE STEAM TO COME OUT OF MANHOLE COVERS! The Timeheart. Oh shit, there’s so much potential here, and I’m eager to see what Duane decides to address in this series.
She starts with TALKING TREES. I am so into the idea that trees purposely let their leaves fall in order to create an intricate matrices on the ground. WE’VE BEEN RUINING THEIR ART FOR YEARS, EVERYONE. WHAT HAVE WE DONE? How funny is it that Nita has a conversation with a crabapple tree and abandons it JUST TO GO FIND ANOTHER WIZARD? Bless her heart. She was barely phased by the talking tree. MY KINDA FRIEND.
SHALL MY HEART BREAK IN EVERY CHAPTER OF THIS BOOK? Y’all, Kit is ALREADY INCREDIBLE. I love that he is introduced in this manner because Duane has him and Nita bond over being bullied. Now, I’m curious why Kit’s bullying is so specific. I spoke of that last week, so I picked up on it pretty quickly. I understood the racist bullying due to his accent. (And, as a brief aside, if Kit identifies as Hispanic, we should respect that. But I want folks to know that there’s a huge difference between that and Latinx, so be careful not to conflate the two of them. For example, I’m Latinx. I finally did one of those genetic tests a few years ago. I’d grown up being told that my biological father was from Mexico, so I identified as Mexican or Chicano. I discovered that I’m mostly Guatemalan and Salvi, with about 12% Native/indigenous blood. What group, you may ask? Well, unfortunately, there wasn’t enough “data” to determine that. Hmmph. So I don’t really identify with that part only because I have no history or attachment to it. Thus, that means I do not identify as Hispanic because I have no Spanish blood in me.)
Yet it seemed very signficant to me that Kit was identified as the “crazy” kid and that that specific slur was leveled his way. Kids pick up on those things, so… might Kit be neuroatypical in some way? PERHAPS??? I don’t want to presume to know, so let’s just acknowledge what a great scene this was. Nita approaches her first wizard, she immediately finds a way to relate to him, and then she agrees to combine efforts so they BOTH can discover how to stop their respective bullying. KIDS WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP EACH OTHER AND BE WIZARDS. Seriously, this book was written for me.
The original text contains use of the words “crazy” and “retard.”
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!