What's supposed to be just a plain old summer vacation—swim, sand, and sun—takes a turn for the magical when Nita and Kit come to the aid of a fellow wizard. Only, this wizard is a whale, and she needs the two teens to join a group of whales and dolphins in an ancient underwater ritual. But performing the Song of the Twelve is not easy—and there are things in the ocean more dangerous than even the Lone Power, such as the enormous Master Shark. He is as old as the sea and has his own role in the Song of the Twelve, a role that requires only that he do what he's best at…eat someone.
Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than forty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.
She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of more than thirty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.
Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."
If ever anyone asks you what exactly is the point of a site like Goodreads, do please direct them to this review. A few months ago, I read the first in this series, 'So You Want To Be A Wizard', and although I liked it, I had no great desire to read any more in the sequence. But when I posted this in my Goodreads review, a friend begged me to carry on, because this, the second book in the series, was one of her all time favourite books. So I took her advice, and you know what? I love it too. It's astonishing how many wonderful stories I've found through Goodreads - not just friends' recommendations, but other reviews, discussion groups or simply surfing around, following links from book to book to author to book... It's an invaluable resource for readers.
This is a children's (or perhaps more properly a young adult) book, the second of a long series, but it's also an excellent read for adults. I am several decades above the intended demographic, but I absolutely loved it. The first half of the book is a fairly straightforward tale of two kids, Nita and Kit, learning to enjoy their newfound powers of wizardry, while avoiding Nita's pesky younger sister and trying not to be caught out by her parents. There's a sprinkling of politically correct ecology (pollution is bad, children), plus some swimming with dolphins and whales and such like fluff.
But then, about half way through, the story transforms into something deeper, darker and much more interesting. Suddenly it's about love and death, and willing sacrifice, and keeping your word no matter the cost. Oh, and a little about the innateness (or not) of male aggression. Which was unexpected. Even though you know, of course, that Nita and Kit will be fine (since the series goes on and on) and even I saw what had to happen to make things come out right, it was still exciting and scary and very moving. I cried, a lot, and that's embarrassing at my age (and I was on a train, too). Not sure what teenage (or younger) readers would make of it, but I thought it was terrific. A good 4 stars.
This review contains spoilers for So You Want to Be a Wizard.
I remember, in my younger years, not liking this book as much as So You Want to Be a Wizard (which I’ll be referring to as SYWTBAW from now on because geez that’s a long title). My reasoning? It was “too weird.” I don’t know why humans shapeshifting into whales was “too weird” but I didn’t have a problem with humans teaming up with a celestial object and a sentient sports car to fight evil in a parallel universe. Seems like a pretty arbitrary place to draw the line.
With my inexplicable aversion to shapeshifting behind me, I was finally able to enjoy Deep Wizardry to its fullest during my most recent reread. Whereas SYWTBAW is a blend of fantasy and science fiction, this book is pretty straightforward fantasy. It’s also tonally different; SYWTBAW had a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat feel to it, while Deep Wizardry feels slower and more ponderous. It fits the underwater theme of the story, in my opinion.
I’m still head-over-heels in love with Nita Callahan as a character. In this book, we get to see a more introspective side of her, which is great for her character development. Because the entire book is written from her perspective, the insight into Kit is more limited, and focused specifically on his relationship with Nita, how she sees him, and what she thinks of him. And Diane Duane’s cast of side characters is just as vibrant as it was in book one.
Something that really impressed on me this reread was how Duane doesn’t shy away from darkness and depth. Obviously everything is still age-appropriate for a middle grade novel, but there’s an added layer underneath it all that I appreciate. Maybe that’s another reason this wasn’t my favorite when I was younger; there are a lot of complicated concepts explored in the text. As I mentioned in my review of SYWTBAW, Duane adds a philosophical twist to her stories, which in the first book was occasionally a bit too much, but I thought was executed much better here.
I’m glad I went back and reread this one as an adult. I enjoyed it much more this time around. Up next, book three, which I remember loving the first two times I read it. Let’s hope that hasn’t changed.
My favorite in the series. I love how Nita discovers that an offhand promise turns out to be very serious, and how the kids find it harder and harder to work around their families. There is a very dramatic storyline that left my in tears, too.
I'm torn about reviewing the rest of this series, as the simple truth is that I like the rest considerably less (although the original is quite good as well) and I haven't finished them all. They all have their moments and they're generally well-told works of fantasy in a carefully-drawn universe with consistent rules. They just don't really grab me as much as I'd like; I dig the "technobabble for magic" deal but sometimes it gets to be a bit much. And as is common in the Young Adult world the relationship between the main characters seems to remain static, in a place of suspended animation given that they remain more or less the same age even as the years pass for us.
Maybe the truth is that I'm just measuring them against the impossibly high standards of this book, because it guts me and it always has. I've said for years and written many times that there's a basic metaphor that YA lit is filled with: magic as a stand-in for puberty and the frightening and powerful introduction of sexual energy into our lives. Magic takes the place of these frightening and awkward aspects of our identities, giving young people a risk-free way to think and feel their way through the choppy waters of adolescent sexuality. Like magic, sex is powerful, mysterious, and a force seemingly beyond our control, connecting us to the parts of ourselves that are animal, that are the product of evolution.
Deep Wizardry plays with this dynamic masterfully. It also spells it out more or less explicitly, as the main character Nita is confronted by her mother to ask whether she and the male lead, Kit, are having sex. But even aside from that thread in the story, the connection between the physical and the magical are made real in this story. Both Nita and Kit take on the form of whales, although through different means, given that they are two different kinds of wizards, Nita naturally talented with the living world of plants and animals, Kit with the inanimate such as metals and rocks. When they take on their whale form, they find themselves in unrecognizable bodies, bodies that they struggle to understand and control. They are thrilled by the possibilities their new bodies represent even as they are disturbed by the potential consequences of that power. They exult in the freedom of life beneath the waves while craving the safety and comfort of shore. They are growing up, and they are afraid.
There is just something so bone deep in this book, so primal and real. Nit and Kit agree to an adventure without really understanding the stakes, and when they are revealed to be life or death, they are already committed to what they must do. The ancient and otherworldly shark Ed speaks to the danger and looming power of the ocean, and his weird but profound respect for Nita is a highlight. Our heroes must take part in an ancient ritual, the consequences of which are life and death itself.
Every day of their adventure they must leave their whale forms and emerge to the surface, as naked as the day they came. Safe again inside swimsuits and towels, they emerge onto cool sand beneath the summer sky, walking into a familiar world that is not familiar at all, facing not just the reality of reality but the pains of adulthood, the bittersweet remembrance of the childish things they left behind.
Oops, I am falling absolutely in love with these little books. First off, let me say that I have been trying a "straddling" technique in reading these; I have been alternating between listening to the (fantastically charming) audiobook for my commute to work and then switching to my paperbacks (which I hastily and excitedly purchased from Orca Books in Oly for a song on store credit) for my 15-minute work breaks in order to continue the story. I can safely say that I have been impatiently shelving books during my shifts, thinking about my next chance to read about my "leetle wixxards" and then shuffle the stories on to my friend Pietro so I will have someone to giggle and squeal with. What I love: -Parents in the book are treated with love and respect for their feelings. It is lovely how Nita and Kit both seem to actually care what their parents think about them and don't want to lie to them, both for personal and practical reasons of their wizardry and "speaking truth." Charming and different. -Whalesong. Oh my gosh this is so cute. Love the way the whale speech has little hints of the actual sounds whales make. I think Nita's name came out something like "hN'iit", which, if you sort of perform it yourself, has a fair similarity to the sounds whales make underwater. Very clever little idea. -Nita and Kit's friendship is absolutely fantastic. I love seeing stories where a boy and girl are allowed to be close friends and care about each other without it immediately nosediving into a relationship or romance. I have been informed that there will be more development of the characters on this front, but I have a feeling that since the author has seemed to demonstrate a relatively gentle hand on a lot of matters of character development, that I won't feel too shoehorned into it. (As a sidenote, Nita's mother and little sister seem to be viewing her adventures with her friend with some suspicion in the book, but other than one conversation, I didn't find myself too shocked by the direction their minds took. It is kinda nice to see that sort of thing develop over time in characters' minds, but considering their age, I suppose it is somewhat natural, if a bit extreme...)This brings me to my next point... -HOLY CARP IN A BUCKET, THE PARENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS AREN'T IDIOTS. This makes me terribly happy in a book for young people, because I could never stand it as a kid when books for people my age were populated with clueless, useless, helpless adults and authority figures. I found it terribly insulting on the front that a) the author seemed to think pandering to me was appropriate rather than being realistic or fair about how people actually act b)it is very diminishing of the achievements and adventures young people have if the adults don't pose any kind of threat to their options as young characters and thus it felt like "making it easy" for the kids by reducing the challenge. I never liked feeling like the only reason these kids got up to so much fun was because their parents were overgrown toddlers. Guhh. Gag me. Nita's parents are an actual concern in the story, both for practical reasons as for emotional ones. They are actually considered by her a lot, which ties into my previous point, but are also seen as individual, emotional beings rather than just the creators of her life. I particularly liked that they try to address the issues to some degree and ease their minds some in a really personal way. I want to see more of this in the books following. Let's hope. -The way the song was figured out at the end maintained some tension while still making sense. Thank you for not condescending to readers like Meyer by promising a big fight and then dropping it because you don't want your characters to have to go through anything difficult. -The relationship between Dairene and Nita is realistic but remarkably mature at the same time on how they deal with each other. I really look forward to them working together in the future and really enjoyed Dairene's cleverness in helping Nita.
After reading and absolutely loving the first book in the series "So You Want to be a Wizard" I just knew I had to read the second book, "Deep Wizardry". In all honesty, this book is nowhere near as good as the first.
First, this book is not as creative and riveting as the first book. I mean not even in the same ball park which was extremely disappointing. While it is well written and very well researched (there are many marine biology terms used throughout the novel) the plot is just moves at a very slow pace. There were several times where I almost put the book down altogether because of the extremely dull story line and horrendously slow (slower than molasses) pacing. The two main characters, Kit and Nita were immature and to be honest pretty stupid and impulsive. These qualities really made me want to slap each of them on the side of the head and tell them to get their sh!t together.
Despite, some of the factors mentioned above the story was not a complete waste as it did have some interesting concepts here and there. While it ended on a relatively good note, I felt very unsatisfied with the ending, almost like a perfect bow wrapped around a little too tightly. Based on all this I'll probably hold off on the res of the series for now.
While I regretted last time around that I had not encountered Diane Duane's Young Wizards books when I was a young'un, this time around I'm pretty glad I didn't, because if I'd come across Deep Wizardry when I was the age of its two young protagonists, I would have required extensive therapy afterward. Look, I'm not going to get into this much, but man, I could have used a trigger warning because
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS.
I'm having trouble breathing after just having typed those words.*
Fortunately, I'm a grown up now, and have evolved and developed coping techniques for dealing with scenes like the
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS
and am thus somewhat capable of admiring that scene for the majestic and badass bit of action writing that it is. Somewhat. I'm still very glad I put this book down to sleep last night well before the advent of the
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS
or I wouldn't have slept at all and would probably have to be hauled off to a mental ward like one of H.P. Lovecraft's less strongly-constituted wus-heroes.
All that aside, Deep Wizardry is a remarkably wise, thoughtful and lovely book. We start up not long after Nita and Kit saved the world from the "Lone Power" in So You Want to be a Wizard, with Nita's family (and Kit along for good measure) vacationing on the beach and Nita and Kit exploring the delights of ocean swimming along with their budding powers and responsibilities. Soon it's those responsibilities -- as I observed last time around, Duane's version of magic has a heavy ethical/ecological bent and literally preserves the world -- that come crashing to the fore like a tidal wave when the duo meet up with a badly injured humpback whale, who turns out to be a young wizard herself, and who has just lost her mentor at the worst possible time.
Soon Nita and Kit are drawn into an awesome round of ritual and rite of passage upon which the fate of the eastern seaboard depends -- the Lone Power they defeated and sealed off last time around is always finding new and old ways to attack the fragile living cosmos these kids and their kind are sworn to defend and preserve -- and into a frame of reference that is startling in its maturity, as they have to spend much of the novel contemplating death quite seriously and personally.
Adding to the shivery archetypal dread of this story is the magnificent giant white "Master-shark" (as in the biggest Great White Shark that ever lived, so old -- possibly thousands of years old -- and vast that he is actually all white, like a deadly ghost slicing through the water), Ed** (short for Ed'Rashtekaresket), who pretty much steals the novel. Ed is a giant slab of uncanny, inhuman awesome, utterly believable as both shark and sentient, at home in his role as the "ender of distress" and full of bleak, harsh and yet still oddly compassionate wisdom in his dealings with Nita and Kit, who assume the forms of a humpback and a sperm whale, respectively, for their dealings in the deep. And while they might therefore be a little bigger than Ed, his lordly, dreadful power keeps them and us in awe through their every dealing with him.
Really, were I at all a reasonable person, I'd be much more afraid of Ed than of the
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS
but anyone who knows me or even just reads my blog at all often probably already knows that if there is one thing I am not, it's a reasonable person. As it is, well, Ed versus the
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS
is one of the most thrilling and seat-wetting passages I've ever encountered in literature. Holy crap, you guys?
And but so, Duane has published seven more of these Young Wizards books to date, and another one is due later this year. Could she ever possibly top this? Or even come close to hitting its (pardon me) high water mark? I dunno. But I'm ready to find out.
After some milk and cookies and soothing music to cure me of my lingering horrors from the
GIANT SQUID ATTACKS YOU GUYS
and the after-effects of some truly tragic content as well.
Deep and powerful stuff.
*My greatest childhood phobia was that a giant squid was under my bed and gonna attack me from the watery ocean depths that were also under my bed and yes I knew at the time this was quite impossible given that said bed was some 6000 feet above sea level not far from the Continental Divide but that's what phobias are, you guys. They're as powerful as they are irrational.
Read my full review at wadingthroughbooks.wordpress.com!
I’m finding it really interesting to read the New Millennium Editions. I’ve read all of the original editions, and the earlier ones have always felt a bit out of sync with the later books, since the nine that are currently out were written and published over 20 years. Technology has changed a great deal, and there are some details that get forgotten in between the books that Duane has fixed. For example, Nita wore glasses in the first book, but not in the rest of the series. Deep Wizardry clears it up by explaining that Nita is using wizardry to fix her eyes. A minor point, but it’s nice to tie the books more closely together, especially when you are reading them as a series and not as stand-alone novels. It also explains why Nita and Kit don’t just use cell phones (the beach is a no-signal area), which would be today’s reader’s first question when someone is looking for the pair.
This whole series really examines the idea of choice and personal responsibility. Nita is warned to read the fine print, but she agrees to participate in the Song of Twelve and to play the role of the Silent Lord without realizing that it is not a play, it is a re-enactment, and that whoever plays the Silent Lord really does die. Nita is 13–she doesn’t want to die, she is frantic to find a way to live, but if she doesn’t do what she promised she would do, millions of people will die. Is her life worth millions of other lives? Maybe she didn’t understand the promise that she made at the time, but she still promised. She was old enough to take the Oath of wizardry, to take the Oath of the Song of Twelve–she is old enough to face the consequences.
And sometimes people die. They do it all the time, as Carl points out. Dying is easy. And it’s not fair. But that’s what wizards are supposed to fight against–the death that isn’t fair, the fear and pain and anger and loneliness that the Lone Power created and forced upon the worlds. Taking his weapon and making it your own–that’s what the Silent Lord did, and it bound Him for thousands of years. Doesn’t mean you can’t be afraid.
I liked the first book very much, but this was in many ways a disappointment.
First, I hope you like whales. Not just like them and hope they aren't all killed by whalers, but that you're fascinated by every little detail about them. Because if not, boy you are going to be sick of them by the end of this book.
Secondly, the problems Duane had in the first book with writing the kids appropriately to their age are worse in this one. Sometimes she seems to remember they are tweens, and other times she starts writing them as if they were in their upper teens. Their maturity level jumps all over the place - especially in one painfully embarrassing scene in which Nita's mother tries to figure out if she is sexually active with a twelve year old.
Thirdly, the setup seems a bit cheap - the sacrifice asked of Nita is flagged really, really clearly and her obliviousness doesn't make sense, but at the same time it's blindingly obvious that she's never actually going to be asked to make it. And I have to ask, two books in, just what the death toll of these kids inspiring every random acquaintance to die for them is going to be by the end of the series. Of course, death is not a bad thing, in these books, but a beautiful passing. Unless it happens to Nita or Kit, of course.
Some of this is still really good - the sequence forcing Nita to confront her policy of secrecy about her own wizardry, for example, and when she appeals to a senior wizard for ethical help and is not handed the easy answers she wants. The shark character was actually quite alluring - although I kind of wish he wasn't a shark. Yeah, the whole whales and fish thing really didn't work for me.
I'm still invested enough in the series, the world-building, the arch villain, and the characters to continue reading. Overall, though, it's a very heavy-handed and didactic book which it lectures about the Evils of Pollution (pollution causes krakens!) but doesn't actually provide any practical ways for young readers to alter their own impact on the planet for the better. It's just not as good as the first one. But I have hopes that the series will improve.
After all, the next book will probably have less whales in it.
Edit: I do wish the app would allow me to differentiate between the original and NME versions!
One of my favourites in the series. I feel I gained perhaps a little extra insight trying to write fanfiction about Ed (for my friends, that's my Yuletide Madness 2009/10 story "Through the Echoing Dark").
I love hearing about non-human wizards, and the Song of the Twelve is nothing short of delightful in its language, conception and execution. (I love that so much, it's the origin of one of my domain names (ed: was, as I had to close it, but joyunending.net was my writing archive for over a decade).) One of the things I enjoy most about the Young Wizards series is that the author does her best never to talk down to her readers, even though it's YA. And so it goes here.
I very much like the drawing of Nita's and Kit's families, and the teens' attempts to do wizardry in secret while still having to keep up as normal a family life as possible, so that their parents and siblings don't suspect what they're doing - whether or not they would believe it. At the same time, trying to save all their lives occasionally requires a bit of disobedience - for example, when Nita is told she can't go out and has to anyway. Her unhappiness at having to disobey her parents is clear, even while she knows their lives are all at stake.
Definitely a favourite.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I enjoyed the first book more but that is mostly because the concepts were so surprising and original. This also has original concepts but, as others have remarked, is a slower pace that is more in tune with the underwater setting. I liked this a lot and, as with the first book, found it didn't take off for me until about halfway through. Fair enough. I'm not a kid and it is written for kids. But when it takes off, brother it takes off and this adult was in for the ride. Themes of truth, sacrifice, what promises mean, and what one will do for the greater good are woven into a rattling good yarn.
These are really just so macaron-sized in reading that I couldn't help but finish another one today... Deep Wizardry picks up about a few months after the events of Book #1. While there is (for me) an annoyingly large amount of exposition and "here's what you missed on book #1" at the beginning, the book soon gets into the thick of things, and with deep pleasure.
I hinted briefly at in a review of book #1 that the debut book relies on formulaic tropes. While Deep Wizardry does briefly connect on these some tropes (the biggest one being hiding wizardry from family), its execution is much defter. For one, the writing in Deep Wizardry pays much greater attention to Nita's family. More importantly, they act as smart, capable humans and aren't reduced to caricatures. Deep Wizardry pulls off complex parents very well. Nita's relationship with her parents grows strained and then complex over the course of the book, as does Nita's relationship with her younger sister, Dairine. These relationships are enjoyably distinct, particular, and real.
Particular to the New Millenium eBooks that I am reading, I also found that there were plenty of quality of life upgrades to the writing. Deep Wizardry is a book about the ocean and whale wizards, and there is a lot of attention in the editing to best evoke the strange and wonderful beauty of the depths. I found myself chewing and meditating on the passages about the sea and its inhabitants -- its sounds, its sights, its sense of touch. All of these reach out to the imagination, and there is a lovely ear and musicality to the writing.
On the topic of musicality, Deep Wizardry is a book about the Song of Twelve, a fictional epic song that recounts the Ocean's choice between good and evil. While the first book sometimes could feel a little heavy-handed in its poetry (most of it loaded towards the end), this book is sombre and joyful throughout the plot due to its source material. Diane Duane inserts just snippets of this larger tale into the writing, but in each there is music and rhyme crafted rather well. The way that the meaning of the poem's sung passages are repeated and examined throughout the book is thoughtful but not bordering on the abstract. This also recurs in the motifs given to the various whale wizards that appear in this book (and there are many!). The chitter-click of dolphins is a high fluting sound compared to the sonorous depths of a blue whale.
What I love most about this book though is just how everything comes together. There is a less jokey style to the book, as if Diane Duane has put aside her zingy action and humorous banter and is ready to tell the serious stories. This book deals with heavy themes of responsibility, honour, adolescence, and death. What does it mean to love your parents while growing up? What is the value of sacrifice? Yet there is also joy and beauty in a tale that takes a real, serious look at growing up. Yes, this is a fantasy novel for teens, but I think that Duane uses her fantasy to broaden and make that life-or-death stage of teenagerhood feel strange and relatable.
Not necessarily a comfort read, but does it need to be? There is remarkable depth to this book. 5 stars.
This is my favourite book out of the whole "Young Wizards" series. I think it gets to the core of what the series is all about, i.e. the Wizard's Choice and the consequences of that choice, particularly in terms of self-sacrifice. I also like the idea of exploring a new world beneath the waves.
I didn't notice any major differences in this new edition compared to the original; they mention mobile phones a few times, but mainly just to say that there's no coverage where they're staying. I think the most important update is that there's a new date at the start of the book, to fit the revised timeline: this one now took place in July 2008 (2 months after So You Want to Be a Wizard).
There are a few minor typos, e.g. "I'm lot sure" (rather than "I'm not sure") but I can live with them.
My only real complaint about this book is that there's a plothole regarding Kit's "warning sign"; it's a pity that this wasn't corrected in the new edition.
As it was a long time since last I read So You Want To Be A Wizard, it's been an equally long time since I last read Deep Wizardry, and I'd actually forgotten quite a bit about what happens in this book. Revisiting it as an adult was a rather different experience, I'll say, because the themes, the questions raised (and answers those questions are given,) and the arguably-heavy-handed environmental awareness message are all things that have a greater impact and that I have a greater understanding of at this point in my life.
That being said, I absolutely loved the sheer imagination and research that went into this book for the time it was written, and I think Duane crafted a very real and incredible take on an underwater world and the people and wizards who live there. Seeing Nita and Kit's interactions with the other wizards and the Master Shark were unique when I was younger and still ring unique now, and the story alternates between philosophical heavy tones and lighthearted moments to make sure it isn't all somber.
Additionally, this is the book in which
Once again, I'm so glad to be returning to these books. They were a good read as a child, but I still think I am getting things from them now that I couldn't have back then.
I love this series. That being said, of all the books in the series, this one leaves me with the most mixed feelings. The author weaves a haunting and beautiful story, most believably, of a wizardry of the whales and the sea that must occur at the deepest part of the sea floor to contain the oldest and darkest Lone Power. The Twelve Song involves real sacrifice, "real" in the darkest and most complete sense, for in no other way can the Lone Power be conquered. Every race, country, culture and story has this old and vibrant echo behind it, and it comes from the deepest eternal truth. Listening to the book as I walked my little dog, I found embarrassing tears running down my face. Although this series is marketed to teens, it might leave children confused and a little shaken with the philosophy and violent realities of sacrifice. Thus, my mixed feelings -- a little too much philosophy and description, the author's beautiful words carrying the feeling that she loves them for their own sake, and this is a little (very little) distracting. And it's a little difficult to know whether my grandchildren are ready for such a powerful story -- at what age can you be told the hardest truths?
Be sure to read "So You Want to Be a Wizard" first. This series is best read in order.
A masterful sequel to the first book in the series. Got me all sentimental over a shark, too. What kept this from being a five star book was the whining of the heroine. Yes, it's definitely fair to whine over discovering that you talked yourself into a situation where you have to commit suicide, but she just does so *much* of it. And her parents. So much sneaking around, so much disbelief. I'm glad that's over with so we won't have to deal with it later in the series, but still, it was a little over the top.
This book is about the protagonists taking a vacation at the beach and discovering that the sea has major problems that require the whales to perform an ancient ritual. And that they get to be a part of it.
My favorite character in this book? Ed, the shark.
This was my favorite book when I was 14. I read it so many times that I memorized large chunks of it. I wanted to live in it. And I haven't read it since then, because I didn't want to taint the memory - so many of our childhood favorites fail to stand the test of time.
But I've been craving literary comfort food, and I found this at the library again, and it seemed like time to reread it. And it's every single word as good as I remembered. It still made me cry, and dream, and ache inside in the best possible way.
I don't know if I'll go back and reread the rest of the series - but it feels amazing to find this piece of my heart again.
Fun, but dramatic, serious, and moving when it needed to be. Diane Duane isn't quite as delightful as some of my other favourite authors (such as Derek Landy), but her books are very enjoyable all the same.
I have to admit, I don’t usually read Middle Grade fiction (is this Middle Grade? I think so. That is what I’ve been led to believe). I’m well out of the target-audience (though that alone does not often stop me), and seem to be too far past the age of having the sense of wonder that a lot of MG fiction requires for enjoyment. However, I’m taking a Writing Children’s Lit class this semester, and this book ended up in my hands.
���It’s an excellent example of craft,” my professor said. “There’s also a terrific shark character whose name sounds like the gnashing of teeth.”
I was pretty much sold. Also, I really wanted to do well in the class, and hopefully learn a thing or two about writing children’s fiction in the process. (Although I do wish he had told me that this was the second book in a series - because I was pretty lost until Nita’s recap of what happened in Manhattan. If I had known I would have started with the first one).
After reading it, my thoughts about this book boil down into basically two points:
The first, that I wish I had come across this book when I was younger. Ten- to twelve-year-old me would have loved this. She would have devoured this whole series gleefully. I have no idea why I had never heard of these books until now.
Second, that nineteen-year-old me also kind of loved this. Yes, I loved the whales less than I probably would have a few years ago, but the book itself is definitely still enjoyable for adults.
Things I Liked
- Nita, for being relatable, and always trying to do the right thing (even when keeping her word comes at risk to her life).
- Kit, for being both loyal and flawed.
- Dairine, for being my favorite. I, too, am a younger sister who always wanted to know everything that my older sister knew, and more. I love Dairine.
- The Master Shark. Just, everything about him. (Especially the mythology surrounding him, and whether or not he was immortal, and the “sharks don’t die from natural causes” bit).
- How the author handled Nita’s parents, and whether or not they should know about wizardry.
- The whole mythology of the Song of the Twelve.
Things I Didn’t Like
- S’reee. Least competent wizard by far. I feel like I was supposed to like her more than I did, or at least forgive her for not telling Nita the whole story…but I had a hard time not being angry with her.
- Nit-pick: The fact that the chapter titled “Ed’s Song” comes before Nita starts calling the Master Shark “Ed.”
All in all, this was fantastic. It is a lot of fun, and immensely enjoyable, and really smartly written.
This may be my favorite of the series; it's certainly one of the top three, because of the emotional and moral power of the story. While on a peaceful vacation on the beach, Nita and Kit find themselves slammed into an adventure that may have deadly consequences. It's essential that the wizards of the sea re-enact the song of the twelve. If it isn't done, and isn't done right, millions of people may die. Nita and Kit volunteer to help the whales, but they have no idea what they're getting into-
I can't even imagine how hard this book would have hit me if I'd read it as a child. I think it would rapidly have joined "A Wrinkle in Time" as a seminal book. It's certainly in that company in showing a young teen girl's very specific grit, intelligence and resolve. Nita comes across as a real kid in a really horrible situation. In addition, other things I love:
1. Her determination to tell the truth to her parents, and the way they respond. 2. That devastating conversation with Tom or Carl (I'm sorry; I can't remember which, but I think it's Carl), in which poor Nita breaks down and the only comfort her adult mentor can offer is the stern truth. 3. A glimpse of whale society, and some very interesting personalities. 4. Ed! The pale slayer is a fascinating character, and something of a hero in his own right. A friend suggested that I write a comparison between Ed and Severus Snape. I'm not up for it - not yet - but maybe I'll do it sometime. There are certainly strong similarities. 5. Finally, Ed, and that conversation, and Nita's resolve, make it very clear that there is a difference between "nice" and "good". Goodness can be scary, even dangerous. Duane gets that, and she shows it.
I can understand some readers of Duane getting frustrated with the "technobabble" aspect of the wizardry in these books. Sometimes I do find it a bit much, but I basically love that wizardry is based in real scientific concepts.
This book was the one that sucked me in to the rest of the series. It's powerful and imaginative and thought-provoking. If you love fantasy quests, or have any taste at all for sf, you should give it a try. Recommended.
(This was a reread, btw.Duane has just published updated e-versions of the first three novels in the series, and I picked them up. I'm glad I did.)
Duane did it again. This was amazing. It didn't have quite the emotional impact as the first one, but even still I was constantly on the edge of my seat, metaphorically speaking. I couldn't figure out how she was going to pull this off, how this wasn't going to all end in disaster for our heroes because Duane set up this impossible premise and committed to it.
Nita and Kit may just be kids (12 and 11 in the NME, 14 and 13 in the older editions) but they prove again to be capable of understanding complex issues and committing themselves to helping solve them. Here, their actions from the first book end up having some unexpected consequences for the Sea and the life that lives in it. The Lone Power has been changed, but its life isn't linear. It exists in all times, at all points, and it is currently bound under the sea below the surface of the earth, trying to escape. The lives of thousands of sea creatures are at risk, and when Nita and Kit agree to help, they end up in a situation beyond what they expected to deal with. The tension is palpable and keeps ramping up the closer they get enacting the Song that will bind the Lone Power again - if they can all play their parts.
On top of that, Nita has family issues at home as her secret identity as a wizard is threatened to be exposed. I love Nita's family. Dairine is the annoying little sister, and her parents don't understand what's going on with their eldest daughter, but they're willing to trust her. This is a family that loves and respects each other, and it shows in the way they interact with each other. Some of the changes with the NME timeline don't quite work with the original text (Nita's mom being worried that Nita and Kit are having sex, for instance). Nita's also still getting used to having a friend, and even though she and Kit trust each other and are close, she doesn't always know how to handle him.
The writing and world-building continue to shine in this series. Duane weaves a mythology for sea life and wizardry that's built upon actual marine biology and physiology, and she brings that world to life for the reader with stunningly written passages and breathtaking action. I look forward to the next adventure.