Ever feel like you'll have to wait for your eighteenth birthday for people to start taking you seriously? Well, in the bleak world of Witch and Wizard, the situation is exactly the opposite: The totalitarian government, called the New Order, considers kids to be public enemy number one.
As the book opens, Whit and Wisty Allgood, who are just fifteen and seventeen, respectively, are arrested by government soldiers and taken to a prison that holds countless other young people. Hours later, they're found guilty of the crime of having magical powers they didn't even know about.
Oh yeah, and their sentence is the death penalty.
Witch and Wizard was written by James Patterson. Maybe you've heard of him? He's a popular novelist. Scratch that—he's a really popular novelist. According to Vanity Fair, he's enjoyed quite the run as the bestselling author on the planet. There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print, and he has been known to rake in around $90 million a year. He holds the Guinness World Record for having the most entries on the New York Times best-seller list. He even owns all the airport bookstores in the U.S., Canada, and most of Europe. Okay, we made that last part up.
Witch and Wizard is the first book in a five-part series that was published between 2010 and 2014. It's one of four young-adult series authored by Patterson, and one of 130-some works he has written since 1976. If you think that no one man can write than many books, you're right—he's had a little help. He works with a stable of co-authors who help bring his many projects to life. His collaborator on Witch and Wizard was Gabrielle Charbonnet, who also writes under the pen name Cate Tiernan. We're not sure if she's the witch or wizard of this dynamic duo, though.
All right, future villains, listen up: It takes a lot of hard work to rule the world. Governments don't become corrupt overnight, and leaders don't rise to power out of nowhere. If you want to be a proper bad guy, you really need to put your back into it. It takes time—months, maybe years—to really get things going.
That said, one thing that can really help speed things along is if people aren't paying attention. If you start small while no one's watching, you might be able to work up to bigger, dastardlier deeds right under people's noses. Finally, if you're lucky, one day you'll get to join the Evil League of Evil—or even be an all-powerful dictator. Huzzah.
Of course, we're crossing our fingers that evil isn't really your thing. If you don't want to spend your life as part of the powerless masses suffering under a tyrannical dictator, the trick is to pay attention so no big baddie can rise to power on your watch. In Witch and Wizard, Whit and Wisty Allgood regret not paying attention to political stuff when they had the chance. At fifteen and seventeen, they aren't especially savvy about world events. So they don't know anything about their new evil leader, The One Who Is The One, until he wrongfully imprisons them—and by then it's far too late.
While the totalitarian government in Witch and Wizard is exaggerated—it is a fantasy story, after all—it gestures toward horrible regimes in history (like Nazi Germany), asking us to reflect on the real possibility that something like that could happen again.
To prevent future atrocities, it's important to pay attention to injustices and corruption in the world around you. Out here in the real world, if you're wrongfully imprisoned, chances are you're not going to discover you have secret magical powers like Whit and Wisty do. That's why it's critical to stay engaged and do what you can to make sure society is heading in the right direction. That, or learn how to shoot lightning bolts out of your fingertips. Up to you.
The Official James Patterson
This is it, the repository for everything you've ever wanted to know about James Patterson.
Not for Grown-Ups
Patterson has a separate website devoted entirely to his YA offerings. This is your one-stop shop for all things related to the Witch and Wizard series, as well as Patterson's other books for young adults.
Vanity Fair's Profile on James Patterson
Grab a snack and hunker down with this in-depth profile, including info on the author's process and his popularity.
"James Patterson Inc."
This piece describes the author's rise to success—and the fascinating way in which his projects are produced.
James Patterson on Writing
The author answers ten questions for TIME magazine. If you hope to be prolific someday, you might want to take notes.
Listen to six excerpts from the Witch and Wizard audiobook.
The Silliest Photo of James Patterson We Could Find
It's a good one, y'all.
James Patterson's co-author, in the flesh.