Title: Witch and Wizard
Author: James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
ISBN: 9780316036245
Pages: 314 Pages
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown and Company

Byron stood behind the bigger men, smiling wickedly. “Take them to the van, Byron said, and the soldiers grabbed me again.
“No! Mom! Dad! Help!” I shrieked and tried to pull away, but it was like wriggling in a steel trap. Rock-hard arms dragged me toward the door. I managed to twist my neck around for one last look back at my parents, searing my memory with the horror on their faces, the tears in their eyes.
And right then I felt this whooshing sensation, as if a stiff, hot wind were blowing up against me. In an instant, blood rushed to my head, my cheeks flooded with heat, and sweat seemed to leap from my skin and sizzle. There was a buzzing all around me, and then . . .
You won’t believe me, but it’s true. I swear.
I saw — and felt — foot-long flames burst out of every pore in my body. (27-28)

Wisteria and Whitford Allgood (otherwise called Wisty and Whit) are yanked out of their beds in the middle of the night, accused of being a witch and a wizard, and allowed to take one item with them. They are then locked up and, after a very unfair trial in their Hitler-meets-Voldemort dystopian society, are sentenced to death upon their eighteenth birthday, which isn’t very far away for Whit. Their powers quickly evolve and they realize that nothing is what they seemed. Will their powers aid them in escaping and reuniting the siblings with their parents?

I’ve got to be honest, I was unimpressed with this book. I don’t know if it was the hype, the 17 person long waiting list for the library’s’ copy, or the extremely short chapters which, in most cases, were pointless. That really kind of bugged me a LOT. If the narrator doesn’t change, if the action doesn’t change, if the setting doesn’t change, then WHY does there have to be a new chapter. Whenever anything shocking happened (which was way too often in my opinion), the chapter would end and make it seem more climatic than it actually was. One chapter ended “It looked like this whole jail was full of kids, nothing but kids.” (42) and then the next chapter started “Yup, it’s pretty much just us kids around here these days,” (43) as if we didn’t already know that it was kids.

For a book the length that it is, I was surprised at how little actually happened. The beginning starts with the family about to be hung, and the flashes back I don’t know how many days/weeks, and by the end of the book they haven’t gotten back to the execution part. If you’ll remember correctly, Brandon Sanderson did the same thing when he wrote Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians and I was thrilled. Alcatraz… however has a lot more character development than this book, where Whit and Wisty are practically interchangeable. Most of the kids they meet are of the same mind-set as they are, and the villains are very one-dimensional (they’re bad, they’re very bad, they’re evil, etc.) without the motivation that most characters need.

The ghost world, which Whit’s dead girlfriend navigates, is also dropped into the story line with no introduction and almost no explanation, leaving readers more confused than the main characters. A map plopped in the middle of the book helps some, but does little to explain the rules of navigating what appears to be alternative realities of some sort. The random distribution of powers also boggles my mind, with Wisty getting a majority and I feel like Whit is severely lacking in the powers department. They at one point give a catalog of their powers to someone they meet, and Wisty has done seven seperate magical acts, whereas Whit has only done two, one of which Wisty can sort of do too. I feel bad for Whit.

I feel the only reason this book is getting the hype it’s receiving is because of the James Patterson name attached to it, but even still there was a collaborator, Gabrielle Charbonnet. Apparently the two of them have paired up previously, penning Sunday at Tiffany’s in 2008. I haven’t heard anything about that book either, but after reading this collaboration, I’m hesitant to continue. I do have an ARC of this book, and I was going to hold off posting this review until I read it, but I’m tempted to pass it on unread. I can’t compare this book to the Maximum Ride series (which I know is also extremely popular), but I thought such a huge name author like Patterson was better than this.

The reviews that I’ve seen for this book seem to echo my sentiments, which makes me happy I’m not the only disappointed reader. Booklist summarized it as “Wisty and Whit are standard-issue teen smart alecks, the baddies are stock villains who use phrases like dangerous fiends, and the meandering plot seems to make up the rules as it goes along.” The Amazon average places it at 2.5 stars, with over half the review giving it one or two stars. You want to see what I’m talking about? Read the first 20 chapters free online. The Book Smugglers also gave a review of it, and I was thrilled that the recommended The Golden Compass to readers who are looking for something more magical and much more developed. James Patterson seems to be selling out his name, and needs to stop before he looses his following for good.