Mark Reads ‘A Wizard of Mars’: Chapter 13, Part I

In the first part of the thirteenth chapter of A Wizard of Mars, Nita deals with FEELINGS, while Kit gets in trouble. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

I’m so glad that there’s video evidence of me reading this because now I can say that this part made me SCREAM and it is ACTUALLY TRUE. Just… oh my god, Kit, WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

Nita’s Dilemma

Let me start out, however, by stating how much I love it when authors are able to capture the sort of emotional turmoil that many of us experienced as teenagers. It’s why I’m so drawn to YA as a reader and as a writer. I generally don’t have that much interest (yet!) in writing adult fiction because I want to replicate things I experienced, to pass them along to other kids and teenagers, to validate the kind of things that are often ignored or dismissed. What Duane captures here is something I related to, though for an entirely different reason than what I suspect she intended. Seriously, re-visit Nita’s scene where she struggles with her attraction to Kit and the feelings of jealousy and bitterness that nearly overtake her.

Now, imagine a young gay kid in her place, and I hope that you can start to see why this resonated with me so intensely. There really was a bitterness I developed at a young age because I mistakenly believed that I had to compete to get a boys’ attention. It’s an absurd notion now, but my world was so limited back then. My understanding of the world was limited, too! I couldn’t conceive of any sort of existence where there were other boys who could like me back, who felt how I did about them, who were in the exact predicament I was in. Instead, I assumed that I’d have to win boys away from the girls who so easily grabbed their attention. I stewed in that jealousy for a long, long time. (If I had actually pursued this to the Darkest Timeline version of myself, I would have firmly become a Nice Guy, y’all, but PHEW, I avoided that disaster later on.)

Experiences aren’t necessarily universal, and it’s important to think of the exceptions. It really is! And we should always think about how we talk about experiences, how we frame them, how we validate them, because we can unknowingly leave people out in harmful ways. At the same time, there is something in this experience that Duane wrote that felt uniquely personal, as if she was able to peer inside my life and find this specific emotion that she could use. It’s incredible, y’all, and it’s one of the main reasons I love the power of fiction. Duane is able to capture this specific moment in Nita’s life, but in a way that opens it up to others. It’s beautiful, and I love anything that validates the inherent angst and emotional terror of being a teenager. (Which is why I love Sarah Rees Brennan’s work, and why Order of the Phoenix is my favorite Harry Potter novel!)

SHE ALSO GIVES HER CHARACTERS SUCH INTENSE MORAL DECISIONS. I’m only now realizing that both Nita and Kit are forced to make very difficult decisions, yet they make polar opposite choices. In the first scene of this chapter, Nita struggles with her suspicion that something is going wrong with Kit. IT IS A GOOD AND TRUE SUSPICION, but that’s not really the point. We know that she’s right, but with limited information, she just has doubt. And is that doubt exacerbated by her jealousy over the Martian princess? Possibly! So when she realizes she could have Bobo tap into Kit’s manual much like was done with Dairine, the dilemma is even harder to solve. As she puts it:

But she had the horrible feeling that her preferences weren’t at all the issue here. And worse, the fact that Bobo still hadn’t clearly answered her question told Nita something she didn’t want to know: that if she told him to bug Kit’s manual – or his brain – and she was convinced that this was the right thing to do, then Bobo would do it.

It’s a chilling thought, and for a moment, I thought Nita would convince herself. However, Duane has Nita realize that no matter how she twists the logic within her mind, the act of reading Kit’s thoughts/manual is wrong. And using a tool that is so wrong can’t possibly be a good thing, right? Besides, imagining the Lone Power as an evil duck is way funnier and productive anyway. RIGHT?

Kit’s Dilemma

THREE HOURS MISSING FROM HIS LIFE. Three hours just gone!!! What the FUCK did Khretef do during that time? Have events been set into motion that Kit can’t stop???

Look, I do sympathize with Kit, even if he makes a disastrous decision here, because the kid is being manipulated. We have no idea what the full scope of Khretef’s control is over Kit’s body, but apparently it’s enough to make Kit go unconscious for OVER THREE HOURS. So yeah, it’s frustrating to read this, but he’s being controlled in some sense, isn’t he?

Of course, I also didn’t expect that Tom would swoop in and GROUND KIT TO EARTH. Frankly, I can’t believe I didn’t consider that Tom or Carl would observe what had happened on Mars and intervene. I was relieved at first because I thought that maybe this would keep Kit out of trouble. Yes, I was worried because, as I said, it was still possible that Khretef had already started something that Kit would need to stop.

Yet now I’m seeing just how badly Kit’s been manipulated. This whole entire struggle feels perfectly designed for someone like him! After getting scolded by Tom and suffering through dinner with his family, I noticed that Kit focused on one specific part of this judgment on him: he was special.

But he’ll have to see, Kit thought. When I show him, when he understands what’s at stake, he’ll have to see why I can’t leave this to anybody else. Nobody else has my perspective–

Oh god, OF COURSE KIT FELL FOR THIS. It’s also probably why this wizardry was designed to go after a guy rather than a girl, as Nita already noticed. Did the original wizards intend to ensnare a teenager, though???


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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