So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards Series Book 1)

by Diane Duane

Ebook, 2003



Local notes

PB Dua




HMH Books for Young Readers (2003), Edition: 1, 411 pages


Fantasy. Juvenile Fiction. HTML:A mysterious library book opens the door to a world of magic and danger in the first book in the beloved Young Wizards series. Bullied by her classmates, Nita Callahan is miserable at school. So when she finds a mysterious book in the library that promises her the chance to become a wizard, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her unhappy reality. But taking the Wizard's Oath is no easy thing, and Nita soon finds herself paired with fellow wizard-in-training Kit Rodriguez on a dangerous mission. The only way to become a full wizard is to face the Lone Power, the being that created death and is the mortal enemy of all wizards. As Nita and Kit battle their way through a deadly alternate version of New York controlled by the Lone Power, they must rely on each other and their newfound wizarding skills to surviveā??and save the world from the Lone One's gra… (more)


User reviews

LibraryThing member MyriadBooks
I cannot have been the only child who, having finished reading this book, secreted myself in my bedroom and flipped back to the beginning to the Wizard's Oath and read it aloud and completely through.
LibraryThing member BeckyzWorld
Still one of my favorite middle school reading memories. This book has highly relatable characters and some scenes stay with me to this day even with years between rereads.
LibraryThing member npl
In a twisted version of Manhattan, Nita finds a library book giving career guidance entitled So You Want to Be a Wizard. After following the books guidelines, she finds herself in another dimension caught up in a battle between good and evil. Both humor and suspense form the basis of the Young
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Wizards series, of which this is the first title.
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LibraryThing member NickF.
In this book Nita is the main character. She is bullied by a girl nam,ed Joanne. One time when she is being chased by Joanne she runs into the library. She is skimming through the books and finds "So You Want to Be a Wizard". She finds another person in the ordeal named Kit. Together they stop It.
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They bring up the scarest of spells.

My own though of this book is that's it's great. It's at a slow pace in the begining but picks up pace. I love that Nita speciliazes in Life. Where Kit speciliazes in electronics. My favorite part of this book is the end when they fight It. This part is great to me because I love how they make the trees fight again and statues fight. It comes after them but Nitaz changes the spell. This sends IT away and gives him a choice which I Love!!!
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LibraryThing member JenJ.
I had read this once previously, but this time I listened to the cassette recording. An entertaining choice for my commute and I plan to listen to or read the rest of the series when I get the chance. I particularly enjoyed the mechanical creatures from the twisted other world.
LibraryThing member bookswoman
For the most part I enjoyed this YA book. It has some elements of the Harry Potter series but she isn't as good at instantly developing characters that you care about. She did get there eventually but it took her a bit longer. I'm heading into book number 2, so must have liked it enough to continue
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with the series.
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LibraryThing member liz.mabry
I really, really wanted to like this book - I met Diane Duane and Peter Morwood at a panel they did at the First North American Discworld Convention in 2009, and they were both lovely. But the book just doesn't grab me, for some reason - I never got around to finishing it, and that makes me sad :(
LibraryThing member tronella
This was pretty cute. I think I'd have really enjoyed this if I'd read it as a child.
LibraryThing member TadAD
I read this...well, started see if it would be right for my child. It was so awkward and poorly written that I just chucked it in the trash.
LibraryThing member AprilBrown
What ages would I recommend it too? Eleven and up.

Length? Two days.

Characters? Memorable, several characters.

Setting? Real world and fantasy, alternate dimensions.

Written approximately? 1983.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a more
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recent publisher) should cover? No. Changes in scenery and real world events have been updated in ebook version per the website.

Short storyline: Nita meets Kit and they begin their adventures.

Notes for the reader: I found and read book 4 first. Something about the early pages of book 1 bothered me and seemed unreal. Obviously, I've forgotten what it was, and enjoyed the rest of the novel.

Warning for low vision readers: Print is a bit small, and the use italics for whole paragraphs in places.
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LibraryThing member sparklegirl
It was very discriptive which is good because it has magical dilemmas I've never been
LibraryThing member KateSherrod
Oh man, it's a good thing a certain someone who talked me into reading Harry Potter this year didn't show these to me until long after I'd done with Hogwarts, because Potter & co. would have suffered even more by comparison with these than they already did with the Greats.

As I found myself
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explaining to a work colleague who is trying to get her 13-year-old son to read more, among the many reasons Duane's Young Wizards books look to be better than Potter is that their would-be wizards are teaching themselves (with a lot of help from the natural world, which is all quite magical if you're just paying attention) instead of slaving over, e.g., potions in a student cauldron in a dreary classroom for a grade. I like the way Duane has conveyed the pleasures of learning and discovery rather than making the learning process seem like a dreary chore, a set of hoops the impatient student must jump through in order to get to do the cool stuff.

I also like the way Duane has situated magic in the world of Young Wizards. It's got a slight Jedi/Force feel to it in that the practice of magic is one of the things that keeps the universe working (the idea that humanity/intelligent life is the universe's consciousness trying to understand itself is a subtle theme), but in a very reasoned and scientific, rather than a mystical, way. Magic slows down entropy, if it's practiced by the right kind of people, by which is meant people who care enough to make the effort even if it costs them everything. And thus the universe can be safeguarded.

Magic, in this world, then, is a calling rather than a privilege, a practice to be undertaken alongside of, rather than instead of, the rest of one's life in the world. Which means there's no elitism to it, no us versus them mentality, despite the secrecy.*

That's not to say it's not quite a lot of satisfying fun for our two young heroes in this first novel, Nita and Kit. Both of them are nerdy little outcasts with a bent for book-learning (the scene in which Nita comes across this first novel's titular textbook is one every bookworm will recognize, a bit ruefully) and a need to exercise their talents, but of course that means both of them are ostracized according to their lights: the rather passive Kit is a wallflower, the more aggressive and active Nita gets beaten up a lot. But lest this start to sound like a magical Revenge of the Nerds, Nita is more interested in harnessing her budding powers to protect herself from damage and recover a treasured space pen than in tit for tat. And soon, when her spell to recover said pen brings a fascinatingly strange new presence into her and Kit's lives, she's got much more interesting stuff to think about than getting back at some bullies. Like getting to know the trees, especially the rowan tree she's been climbing in her whole young life, who tells her of how the trees have always been watching over and protecting humanity, since they were just another primate screaming in the branches -- and why humanity is worth protecting.

Too, this book does the best job of any I've seen since Fritz Lieber's Our Lady of Darkness of fulfilling the promise inherent in that oft misused genre name, urban fantasy. Here as in the Lieber, we get a true magic of cities, in a radiant and lively good aspect as well as in a creepy and malevolent evil one. And, rarity of rarities, the good aspect is every bit as interesting and vividly imagined and engaging as the evil -- and that's saying a lot, because the foe Nita and Kit and their white hole pal Fred (!) take on is quite possibly the most genuinely heartbreaking and terrifying dark lord I've encountered at least since Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy -- and this being-or-nonbeing, the Starsnuffer, let me say, licks Voldemort and Sauron hollow, as his world is way more interesting and scary than Mordor could ever hope to be. The fire hydrants alone!

And so again I find myself asking, just as I did in my prior post, why the hell isn't this book more famous? Seriously, kids, check this stuff out. Diane Duane is amazevaries.

*I want to make a comparison. If Harry Potter is Big Bang Theory, with muggles standing in for nerds as the class to be either mocked/attacked or protected, but hardly ever respected in their own right (even as it pretends to be a sop to those nerds reading), then Young Wizards is Community.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
The story was intriguing, but I didn't understand how two kids could pick up a book and suddenly be doing this powerful magic. There wasn't enough explanation for me to suspend disbelief. I did like the ideas of the power of words and the struggle between good and evil.
LibraryThing member tronella
This was pretty cute. I think I'd have really enjoyed this if I'd read it as a child.
LibraryThing member humouress
Nita Callahan has always been considered 'bookish' and is constantly bullied at school. One evening she escapes into the local library.

She kept on running down Rose Avenue, and the answer presented itself to her: a little brown-brick building with windows warmly alight - refuge, safety, sanctuary.
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The library.

and a book called 'So You Want to be a Wizard' grabs (literally) her attention. Not really believing it, Nita borrows the book anyway - because, just maybe, she can magically solve the problem of her bulliers.

As she reads, she finds out that wizards exist to slow down the death of the Universe, which is caused by entropy introduced by the Lone Power at the beginning of Creation. To become a wizard, she must pass an ordeal after taking the Wizards' Oath:

'In Life's name, and for Life's sake, I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so --till Universe's end.'

- and so begins an adventure that opens up whole new worlds to her.

Nita, and her friend Kit, have a hard ordeal to pass, and in doing so they face some quite scary situations; this book doesn't back down from the tough questions and you're never sure if they are going to make it.

The story is well written, and really keeps the tension up, though it is aimed at pre-teens; it really conveys a dark atmosphere. There are some moments of bantering with Nita's younger sister and some light (pun not intended) humour along the way with 'Fred', the white hole that Nita and Kit accidentally conjure up.

This was a series that I first read (but, sadly, didn't manage to keep up with) when it was first published. It's very contemporary to its time (I remember being delightedly impressed the first time I read it), but that does mean that some details have dated; the World Trade Centre is still standing and the MetLife building above Grand Central station is known as the Pan Am building in this book, for instance.

One of the things that appealed to me is the way Duane has blended wizardry with science - of the Universe (physics) and of Nature. Maybe young readers will absorb some knowledge (did you know it takes eight minutes for the Sun's light to reach the Earth?) along the way without quite realising it.

Definitely one to try.

July 2016
ETA: I have now acquired the Millenium edition as a digital 'boxed' set, so some details (such as the ones I noted above) have been updated - for instance, now the protagonists use laptops to look up some things. Still just as good and still recommended!

4.5 stars
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LibraryThing member EdwinKort
Why did i ever pick this up. Such a waste of time trying to read this.

Girl finds a "so you want to be a wizard" manuel in the library and suddenly and knows all kind of magic. together with a boy, who also had read the same book, they battle with a dark wizard.

two stars, just because i hate giving
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out just one.
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LibraryThing member Shahnareads
I read this so long ago.

All I can remember is that, it would be awesome to find a real magic book in a secret part of a library that would make my life more interesting.

This is how I think as a child.
LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
Picked this up 'cause I'd heard good things about it - boy, 300-odd pages never flew by so quickly - but mostly 'cause there aren't really many words on each page. It's actually for an audience a bit younger than "YA" - good for 8-12 year olds, I'd say.
Fleeing from bullies who beat her up
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regularly, Nita finds a book in the library that seems to offer a magical solution. However, she soon learns that wizardry has more important aspects than just self-protection, as a matter of fact, it is bound up with preserving the world.
She and another novice wizard from the neighborhood, Kit, together with a personable white hole named Fred, set out to an eerie alternate Manhattan filled with malevolent machines and run by a satanic businessman in order to retrieve a powerful book of wizardry and save the world.
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LibraryThing member livingtech
My daughter and I loved this book. So much to enjoy here. We are definitely going to pick up some of the sequels.




½ (319 ratings; 3.9)
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