In the second half of the fourth chapter of A Wizard of Mars, EMOTIONS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Can I just state that I really adore Nita? She has grown so much from the first book in this series, and what happens in this chapter is a great reminder of that. The way she goes about reasoning with Dairine while also satisfying her father’s concerns is mature as hell, and I can’t claim to have EVER been that mature at her age. Maybe mature in different ways, but that’s a story for another time.
What I want to focus on is the challenging thing that Duane has set up for us. While the “main” plot of this book is probably going to cover what the wizards have found on Mars, this is still a significant subplot. Duane crafts Dairine’s characterization in this chapter with grief in mind. I can see some similarity to how she reacted to her mother’s death earlier in the series, but it’s not an exact comparison. Here, Dairine is far more rude. She deliberately tries to get a rise out of Nita when Nita interrupts her during her training session with Nelaid. (We now have confirmation that she is pursuing a new form of wizardry and perhaps replacing Roshaun/Nelaid or assisting Nelaid.)
It’s classic Dairine, yes. She’s always been rebellious and spiteful to an extent. But it almost felt over-the-top, at least if you didn’t consider the context of why she was behaving as she did. That’s why it was so jarring AND BRILLIANT that Nita didn’t take the bait and instead disarmed Dairine with this:
“If you’d let him know what you were going to do first, you might have been in less trouble than you are now. Now you’ve got a mess to clean up. The least you can do,” Nita said as Dairine opened her mouth to say something angry, “is let me help you get out of it so you can get on with business.”
Seriously, SHE’S SO CUNNING HERE. But I don’t mean that word to imply that this is shady or that she’s being underhanded. Nita simply adapts her strategy in a way that acknowledges their situation – both of them have wizardly pursuits that they prefer to be dealing with – while also setting up a system by which their father can feel like he still knows what’s going on. Dairine continues to resist, but that’s Dairine for you. She thrives off independence, so the idea that she’ll have to be held accountable for her location and her actions feels tantamount to a personal betrayal.
But what other solution could there be? She’s thirteen. Should she be allowed to run about the galaxy and shirk all her Earthly responsibilities, too? That’s why Nita is brilliant for also threatening to tell Tom, who has the power to ACTUALLY GROUND DAIRINE. Nice move!
So while some of this is a mild power play, it’s also ONE OF THE MOST EMOTIONAL SCENES BETWEEN THESE TWO. I honestly didn’t expect Nita to bring up the uncomfortable subject of Roshaun, and certainly not in his palace. BUT THEN DAIRINE WENT AHEAD AND DID IT. Oh my god, y’all:
But suddenly her sister was hugging her hard, her face buried in Nita’s vest. “Oh, wow,” Dairine was saying, “oh, wow, I was so scared, I thought that he– and then I thought I was crazy; it didn’t make any sense. But if you saw it, too, then it’s true, he’s not, not dead, he’s not–“
Nita was bemused, but for the moment the safest course seemed to be to just hang on to Dairine while her sister got herself under control. “It’s okay,” she said, “it’s okay!” –while very much hoping it actually was.
I’M NOT OKAY, IF THAT MATTERS AT ALL. NOT AT ALL.
And then there’s Nita’s scene with her father! Because why not put me on an emotional rollercoaster in half of a chapter! I respect so much that even the adult in this scenario is struggling with the complications of the events from the previous book. Harry is trying his best to manage running a household and raising his daughters and keeping a successful business going. That means he’s going to mess up, so I’m glad he apologizes for his abruptness towards Nita. LOOK, I’M A BIG FAN OF HEALTHY, CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN KIDS AND THEIR PARENTS IN YA, IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.
I am overwhelmed, y’all.
I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.
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