Friday, January 22, 2010

Witch & Wizard

by James Patterson with Gabrielle Charbonnet
Finished January 23, 2010

Daddy bought this book in Kroger while we were in Houston. He thought it was a regular James Patterson novel. I think he stopped reading it about the time he said to me, "This is a children's book!?"

He didn't know that Patterson is now in the Teen Lit business. He does actually write some of his books for younger readers. As far as I can tell, he's the sole author of the Alex Cross books and the Maximum Ride books. But Daniel X, and now Witch and Wizard, are co-written. What that means, according to Gabrielle Cahrbonnet's website, is that Patterson

provides a detailed outline, every chapter, scene by scene, as well as backstory and commentary. And we talk about it. Then I write a rough draft and send it to him in chunks. He reads it and gives me feedback. He's very clear about what's working and what's not working. He's generous with praise and constructive with criticism.

Well, Jim... you're not constructive enough, I think. This book has a fairly interesting plot, although it's nothing unique. An authoritative dictatorship has taken over .... the country? The world? (It's not clear). Whit and Wisty, brother and sister, are taken from their homes by the thugs of the New Order. The One Who Is The One has ordered that they be taken to prison because they have been determined to be "Extremely Dangerous."

Why are they dangerous? That's what Whit and Wisty want to know. They have grown up not knowing about their powers. Right before the New Order guard take them away, Mom and Dad give Whit and Wisty a book and a drumstick. Unbeknownst to the two, it's a book of magic and a witches' wand in disguise. Wisty and Whit are Witch and Wizard. They slowly learn to use their powers, which help them get out of prison and other tight spots.

Why doesn't the New Order guard take away the book and the drumstick? I don't know.

Apparently, the grownups of the N.O. have decided that children are immoral and bothersome. They've rounded just about all of them up and put them in prisons and have even tortured them. I don't know why. It's up to Wisty and Whit to free them. All of the freed children live in a giant department store. Why the N.O. don't know about the "hideout", I don't know.

But the "grownups are bad and kids can run the world much better" theme reminds me of the Prez comic book series from the 1970's. Prez was a teen president. Because back in the 1970's it was all about never trusting anyone over 30.

The writing in this book is awful, but it's not an entirely worthless book. Some kids will enjoy it. Because it's a series and ends with a cliffhanger, they're sure to grab the next installment.

Patterson's name sells. This is a good thing for the likes of Gabrielle Charbonet, who up to now has written hack paperback series like "Disney Girls", "American Gold Gymnasts" and several books based on Disney movies. Ms. Charbonet is thrilled to finally be the author of bestselling novels. It was a lucky day she met James Patterson.

UPDATE:  We just got  the third book in this series today. I noticed that it's by a different author - not Gabrielle Charbonet.  On checking, I saw that yet another author wrote the second book.  I looked up Gabrielle Charbonet to find her website again and couldn't find a trace of it.  What I did find was that Gabrielle Charbonet has been writing under a pen name for many years - Cait Tiernan.  Since about 2001,  she has written, under the Tiernan name, a series of Wicca fantasies called The Sweep.  She has two more series, Balefire and Immortal Beloved.
How interesting.  When I read Charbonet's website, it was so gushing and golly-mr-patterson, that I got a completely different impression of her. I perceived her as someone who had written nothing but hack-factory paperback series.  Now, I don't know anything about the three Tiernan series. They could also be junk series books as well. Who knows?    What is very very interesting is that Charbonet's website is gone. There is no mention at all of Charbonet, James Patterson or Witch and Wizard on Tiernan's website.  I wonder what happened? Was there a falling out between Charbonet and Patterson? Was it Patterson's plan all along to use different authors?  The third author - Jill Dembowski - is an editor at a publishing company.   The second author is Ned Rust. I can't find anything that he's done other than a couple of Daniel X books - more James Patterson.
My theory is that Gabrielle Charbonet was getting a little too much of a big head over being the author of Witch and Wizard.   Enter Ned Rust. He didn't get great reviews.  So Patterson just went with an editor. Maybe the editor Jill Dembowski follows orders better than the two.  That's my theory anyway.
James Patterson...writing machine, live action!

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