I guess Witch & Wizard by James Patterson is a dystopian novel, but it doesn’t fit the more classic elements of dystopia. Yes, it does have the element of an authoritarian/totalitarian government. A political party called the New Order,somewhat reminiscent of Nazis, takes control of the country led by The One Who Is The One. The New Order has won all the elections and gutted the former system of government, instituting the Council of Ones. Children with magical capability are being informed on by friends, family and neighbors and rounded up and taken to jails and put on trial without due legal process as the New Order has made up its own laws and rules.
Although the New Order is an example of a dire future because of the effects of a completely totalitarian government, the element of magic didn’t fit what I think of a dystopian novel. In most books of this genre man or nature has created a disaster where the effects are real. Yes, I know there are zombie books, but in most zombie dystopian novels I have read, the zombies were victims of some sort of natural or human created virus, they are not magical beings. To have magic as part of the story line makes me feel that Witch&Wizard is a book more along the lines of a Harry Potter type story, which isn’t a dig on the book, it would be appreciated by people who like that sort of thing, but if you are looking for a more traditional dystopian novel, this isn’t it.
Whit and Wisty, short for Wisteria, are a brother and sister who don’t even know they have any magical powers until a violent event occurs that upends their lives as typical teens. To be fair, this book is YA fiction, it’s just that there are so many YA fiction books that are on an adult level, such as The Hunger Games, that I have grown rather spoiled about expecting more complex characterizations and worlds. Adult readers will enjoy the special Excerpts of New Order Propaganda section at the back of the book that riffs on modern pop culture. For a YA reader who actually is a young adult, they would probably enjoy this book. Whit is the epitome of the cute high school jock and Wisty has many sassy comebacks throughout the book. It’s just for me personally, I am more interested in reading about how characters survive the dystopian worlds they find themselves living in based on real problem solving skills and fortitude rather than magic.
The best part of the book for me was this passage which I think resonates with both young adult and adult readers, “Listen, please: seize the moment, however worried you may be about what’s coming next. It’s your brain, it’s your life, it’s your attitude….Go out there and fill up with sights, sounds, and ideas that are bigger than yourself. We all know from history-to say nothing of this current reality- what can happen if we stay quiet and just do what’s put in front of us.”