In the ninth chapter of A Wizard Abroad, Nita and Kit head to Castle Matrix to do THE COOLEST SHIT EVER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE THING FIRST.
I probably wouldn’t be so frustrated if there had been even the tiniest acknowledgment in the latter half of this chapter about Ronan’s “identity,” but instead, I must simmer here in disbelief because WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ.
Some points first: I cannot wait to be somewhere with little light pollution because I miss being able to see the stars easier. I do love big cities, and I’ll always gravitate towards them, but that’s a definite downside. SPACE IS PRETTY COOL.
Anyway, let’s talk about FEELINGS. While I can’t speak to this specifically within the context of like… teenage romance? I was in college before I had my first kiss, and I wasn’t in my first relationship until my 20s, but I could understand what Duane describes between these characters. Attraction – romantic or sexual – can often be a grating, confusing thing, especially if you find yourself attracted to someone who doesn’t seem to be a good match for you. And it looks like there’s always going to be an antagonism or a friction between Nita and Ronan, even if they might like each other or desire more than a platonic friendship. I wonder how much of that is due to their burgeoning desire. In Nita’s case, this is her first chance to be physical with a guy, and Duane is SO GOOD at talking about this. She combines it with Nita realizing that attracted wizards can hear each other. But it’s the very basic logistics that made me smile:
Nita spent the first two seconds trying to figure out what to do with her nose.
BECAUSE NO ONE FUCKING TEACHES YOU ANY OF THIS. I was one of those unlucky souls who lived in an area with a prudish school district. Our sex education was extremely limited, and they pushed abstinence over everything else. All images of condoms, genitals, or sexual acts were purged from our textbooks, and our teachers were urged not to answer questions if we had them. (Which literally defeats the purpose of calling it an education, but WHATEVER.) I am forever thankful for my seventh grade science teacher flouting the rules and showing our class how a condom works because I otherwise would never have known how to use one myself. THANKS, AMERICA.
Anyway, as if someone’s exploration of romance wasn’t complicated enough, Duane has to drop this:
Her eyes flew open with shock as she recognized the mind-sense of what was struggling down inside of Ronan. ”Peach!” she whispered. But that had been only one of the creature’s names. It had many others.
I. I just. What the fuck. Is he one of the Powers? WHY IS PICCHU INSIDE OF RONAN. I mean… he can’t be that Power, since he has an entire history and existence outside of Picchu’s last life, you know? Unless Picchu jumped over to Ronan? Or something????
AND THEN IT’S NOT ADDRESSED AGAIN FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE CHAPTER. THANKS. THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED. That’s okay, though, because the Castle Matrix sequence is pretty spectacular and suitably distracting. AND IT’S A REAL PLACE AND I WANT TO GO THERE. There’s a lot I love about this book, but the desire it’s given me to travel the world is probably my very favorite thing. I want to see this castle so badly! But it’s also cool how much of the geography where the castle is built matters to the story. In order to fight the fire, Castle Matrix was chosen because it sits on top of so much water.
Yet these characters matter just as much to the story as the setting does. Each of these wizards serves a purpose here, but perhaps none more so than Dairine, whose the one able to pull off one of the most complicated wizardries I’ve read in this series. AND SHE’S SO CASUAL ABOUT IT. She’s the most casual character in this whole sequence, you know?
Vaguely she could feel Dairine doing something, speaking again, naming in the Speech the amount and type of matter she wanted, the form, the place of delivery – all as casually as if she was filling out an order form.
The spell itself is described beautifully, and even if I didn’t necessarily understand all the scientific or wizardly details, I still got a sense for the grandeur of what these people had done. Part of that came from the physicality of this spell, which struck me as something far more intense than I had expected, you know? This wracked the bodies of those who participated! BUT THEN MY FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE SPELL HAPPENED WHEN THE CUP TRIED TO PUT OUT THE FIRE OF THE STARSTEEL:
Nita almost burst out laughing at the sound of it, despite her terror, as the two of them scolded one of the Elements of the Universe as if it was an unruly child. They sounded as if they intended to send it to bed without supper.
THIS IS THE BEST. THE BEST. Oh, I cannot wait to see what these characters do with all of this. Actually, let me end this review with another bit of praise: this is such a dynamic group of people, and it is so fun to watch them interact with one another.
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