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A Wizard Alone (Young Wizards) [Hardcover]

Diane Duane , Michael Stearns
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152045627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152045623
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.4 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,057,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
IN A LIVING ROOM of a suburban house on Long Island, a wizard sat with a TV remote control in his hand, and an annoyed expression on his face. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting view of autism 1 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the central characters in this book is autistic. I have an autistic spectrum disorder, not so severe as the kid in the book. There were times when I was reading it that I had to stop and put the book down for a bit because some bits of it were so true they hurt. I feel glad I've read it. Its a good, powerful book, and even if you arent autistic it uses the extreme and the magic making things literal to illustrate stuff that happens in most lives, so it can reach all readers. The only other comment I'd like to say is that the truest thing said about autism in this book is that it is different for every single autistic person. Aside from that it is sensitive, serious and not sensationalist, so I liked it a lot.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Search-and-rescue with a twist 5 Jan 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A young wizard is missing "on ordeal" (his solo trial assignment, to see if he's up to the job). Missing, but not dead. Or even, not missing - his body seems to be walking around just fine. Veteran wizard Kit (plus his dog Ponch) is called in to make some sense of this confusing situation. Meanwhile, his partner and co-wizard, Nita - off active duty due to emotional pain - has been contacted by a a strange and alien entity in her dreams...
I've followed this series since I was a child, and even though I am no longer a child they remain some of my favourite books. This is, in my opinion, the best yet since the first two in the timeline following Nita, Kit, and family. It is certainly emotionally hard-hitting but it doesn't have to lean on the emotion to drive the plot, unlike its predecessor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Autism to the Nth Degree! 25 Mar 2005
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Although I was never a fan of the science fiction/fantasy genres, I loved this book. The young wizards were appealing characters who reside in very real Nassau County New York communities. Each wizard is introduced to readers, so people who have not read the previous works in this series won't feel like they have to play catch up to understand the flow of the story.

Kit, the wizard who is featured most prominently in this book discovers his beloved dog Ponch has some wizardlike properties. Boy and dog are able to communicate in ways they had never previously been able to do. Nita, another young wizard in their midst is still grieving over the death of her mother, whose life was prolonged thanks to Nita's magical prowess.

Enter Darryl. A boy with severe autism, Darryl faces severe communication challenges and is enrolled in a self-contained program in a local Nassau County School. Kit finds himself in the mind of this child, whose speech is limited at best, sporadic at worst. He discovers Darryl mulls things over from different perspectives; changes his mind frequently; is highly imaginative as his mental imagery will attest to. Along with this information, Kit learns of the dark powers of the challenging forces of the Lone Power who threatens their very safety.

Darryl has prescient dreams; this is a characteristic many of Stephen King's characters have. Darryl's autism is presented in a plausible and sympathetic fashion; although this book does not purport to be any kind of a diagnostic tool, it is delightful to see a wizard with autism and to see autism portrayed in a very different genre.

Kudos to Duane for presenting autism in a logical and accurate fashion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 31 Mar 2011
By Bee
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like all of the Young Wizards series, this is a fantastic book. I read this in one sitting as I couldn't put it down and found the insight into the mind of someone with autism fascinating (kinda Young Wizard's meets Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time). I have now ordered my paperback copy of the next Young Wizards book. They are so very readable, and just great tales which pull you in. They're not just for kids either-I'm nearly 30!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kit and Nita's next adventure is confusing to say the least 6 Oct 2002
By Nancy E. - Published on Amazon.com
The 6th book in the Young Wizards series is short but it doesn't disappoint. As Nita recovers from the death of her mother, Kit takes center stage in this thrilling book. Kit has never really been sent out on a mission, problems usually come to him. But when Tom and Carl, the local Senior Advisors, ask him if he wants to look for someone, he accepts it, thinking it to be no big deal. Unfortunately Kit finds that this particular person it very hard to find. Darryl is an autistic boy who has spent the past 3 months on his ordeal, a difficult process that usually only takes a few days. When Kit "finds" Darryl he finds out quickly that he's not really there. The only way to find him is, with the help of his dog Ponch, to enter Darryl's mind, a very dangerous place. Kit quickly finds out that the reason Darryl is having so much trouble has to do with the Lone Power itself. If only Kit could talk to him.
At the same time, Nita, is recovering from the death of her mother. Her house is strangely quiet with just her wizard sister and her father to take care of them. As she tries to get back to normal life she finds her dreams are being haunted by some very strange creatures in deed, robots, clowns and knight. Nita has no idea why these creatures are in her dreams but she soon realizes that they need help, her help. And if she helps them, she might be able to help Kit.
Wizard Alone is not only an exciting edition to the Young Wizards series but it has the most character development out of any of the books in the series. I won't give anything away but Kit and Nita, like in the last book, do spend a lot of time apart. That gives us a chance to look at their individual personalities more than ever before. Diane Duane does a wonderful job of facing things that we don't usually see in fantasy novels, such as autism. I actually know more about autism now than ever before from reading this.
Ms. Duane also deals very well with Nita's recovery from her mother death. Most books tend to either have the characters wallow over the pain they feel with long passages involving weeping over the sight of their gravestone (such an overdone scene)! or just get over it far too quickly like it never happened. Ms. Duane does neither. She focuses more on the recovery than the pain and how it has changed Nita and her family.
Although this book isn't quite as good as Wizards Dilemma, the best book in the series, it's still one of the better ones. It was great to see Kit as the main character for once. The book is also filled with some really great humor. You'll never look at an egg beater the same way again! I highly recommend to any fans of this series, pick up this book. It's really amazing. I can't wait until the 7th book, A Wizards Holiday, comes out in about a year. ...Dai Sitho!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go ahead..read it! 5 Nov 2003
By S. Christensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Okay, so I like this series.
In this latest Young Wizards' novel, Nita is only partially through the process of recovering from her mother's untimely death from cancer. Her doubts about her own wizardry keep her from getting involved when her best friend and wizard partner, Kit, gets assigned to see what's holding up the Ordeal of a young autistic boy named Darryl. But it's pretty clear, soon, that Nita won't be able to stay on the sidelines as she forges a link of understanding with Darryl and Kit begins to get trapped in Darryl's internal world.
This was a pretty good read. I really enjoyed getting to know Kit, in particular, better. Our main characters here are getting experienced with wizardry, so it may not seem quite as new or exciting. The real point of the book, however, is what's going on in the characters. How both Nita and Kit are handling their situations. What it's going to take to get Nita back in the saddle and engaged with the world again.
I was slightly irritated that the Lone Power didn't get a little more credit here. (He can be a great baddie when he's written right.) I was also irritated that Kit got sent into a situation only Nita really had the skills to handle right. (Because of the way Kit gets into Darryl's world and the nature of Darryl's universe, Darryl starts warping him. Only Nita knows how to get through to Darryl in a way that won't hurt her.) Typical of Duane to underestimate Kit and always let Nita save the day somehow. But, overall, plenty of fun. And by now, you really care about the characters.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but missing that essential "magic" 7 Sep 2003
By Nerine - Published on Amazon.com
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Diane Duane is of course a great author and everything she writes is well worth reading. That said, I really didn't find myself enthralled by this book as I have by others in the Young Wizards series. It was a good enough read and I enjoyed it. But that essential "magic" that sets it apart from the average fantasy book was somehow missing.
My personal hunch is that the series has just gone on too long. The first three books were amazing, mind-expanding, earth-shattering high fantasy at its best. Here we had a couple of teenagers pitted against the evil Lone Power, and the fate of the world, New York, or the entire universe at stake. These books were exciting, enthralling cliffhangers that you just couldn't put down. Even now, chills go up and down my spine when I read certain parts of Deep Wizardry (probably my favorite in the series.) The first three books culminated in the defeat and redemption of the Lone Power at the end of High Wizardry.
The mistake, I think, was in continuing the series. After High Wizardry, the "high fantasy" aspects of the books began to disappear, which was quite understandable. I mean, how much further could Duane possibly go in that direction after the epic battle between Dairine and the Lone Power at the end of High Wizardry? (A Wizard Abroad attempted to retain the "epic" character of the previous three, and did not succeed, IMHO.) Instead, Duane had her characters turn inward, dealing with themselves and the issues in their own lives instead of saving the universe. The fifth and sixth books are very introspective, and as character-development novels they are very interesting. However, as fantasy they are lacking that essential tension that characterized the first three books. In High Wizardry, the fate of the universe was at stake; in Wizard's Dilemma, it's the fate of Nita's mother. (Not to say that this isn't important in its own way -- it just doesn't create the same atmosphere of nervous excitement.) In the first book of the series, the characters explore an alternate universe; in the sixth book, they spend most of the time in a single person's mind. The focus of the series has shifted from the macroscopic, cosmic, and epic, to the microscopic, introspective, and personal. And while nothing is wrong with this in itself, it's not what I look for in a fantasy book.
Another problem is that not as many new ideas are being introduced. In the first three books, the characters were still discovering their own magic and all its aspects. There was an atmosphere of exciting discovery. In this last book, however, the characters have adopted a "been there, done that" attitude to magic. Magic has become routine and predictable; while in the first two books the characters were out discovering new universes, here Kit uses his skills to...fix his VCR by persuading it to work with his TV. (Yawn.) Magic somehow just isn't *magic* anymore...
In summary, though this book is a good piece of writing, it is somehow missing that essential spark that would give it life, like the "dragon's eye" mentioned in the Wizard's Dilemma. However, the book is well worth reading and was highly interesting in several ways (such as its portrayal of an autistic child) if not as exciting as I hoped.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Goes On, Especially For Wizards 11 Mar 2003
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
A Wizard Alone (2002) is the sixth novel in the Young Wizards series, following The Wizard's Dilemma. In the previous volume, Nita's mother is diagnosed with a brain tumor and Nita searches for some way to cure the illness using wizardry, but to no avail. The Lone Power tries to tempt her into a pact, but Nita's mother herself intervenes to help Nita to deny the enemy. During this time, Kit is mostly ignored by Nita and spends his time observing his dog, Ponch, who is displaying remarkable abilities, including talents for walking between dimensions and for finding things.

In this book, Tom offers Kit an assignment to discover why a promising youngster, Darryl, hasn't completed his ordeal after three months. Normally young wizard candidates are left alone during their ordeal, but this candidate is unusual in that he is autistic, so his mental condition may have caused some hang-up. Tom wants Kit to only observe and interfere as little as possible. Kit watches Darryl at school from a distance at first, but soon he and Ponch slip into the classroom with an invisibility spell and Ponch helps Kit to get into Darryl's private universe. There they discover that Darryl seems to be perfectly normal in most respects, but is having encounter after encounter with the Lone Power. Kit also senses that Darryl has passed his ordeal some time ago, but doesn't know it. Moreover, this incarnation of the Lone Power seems to be frustrated for some reason.

Nita is having a hard time keeping her family from falling apart from grief after her mother's death, yet the struggle is helping her to keep herself functional. Initially her father hated to go to bed alone and now he hates to wake up in the bed alone. Her sister, Dairine, hates to go to school and face the pity of her peers. Everything reminds them of the missing member of the family. Nita is meeting regularly with a school counselor and benefiting from the chance to talk about her grief as well as some specific words of advice. Dairine, however, has been assigned a newly graduated counselor who apparently has expunged all memories of childhood and adolescent from her brain.

When Kit tries asks for her help as backup, Nita demurs since she is very uncertain of her stability at that moment. Nevertheless, Nita is having a series of strange dreams that appear to have something to do with Darryl. Then Nita tries to contact Kit, but he is unavailable at the moment; apparently he is in another universe at that time, so Nita reckons that he is walking the dimensions looking for Darryl. However, when Nita learns that Kit had traveled to Darryl's private universe in his sleep, she begins to worry that Kit is being overcome by Darryl's unusual powers and makes arrangements with Ponch -- the dog is able to talk to her telepathically -- to be notified the next time Kit visits Darryl. However, Kit is pulled away suddenly and Ponch barely has time to go with him.

This novel is another tale filled with real life concerns and relationships, especially between these young wizards and their respective sisters; I particularly enjoyed Carmela's reaction to the alien shopping channel on the magically enhanced TV. However, the wizardry is an integral part of the story; only a wizard could visit Darryl in his universe -- i.e., mind -- and probably only a wizard would have the strength and talents to create a normal enclave within his own autistic brain.

Recommended for Duane fans and anyone who enjoys young people discovering the universe, especially in a magical setting.

-Arthur W. Jordin
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings - good but not perfect. 4 Jan 2003
By Brooks A Rowlett - Published on Amazon.com
I have loved the Young Wizard series since the first one. The first one grabbed me with its vision and breadth in the same way that the first Harry Potter book did. I often recommend the series to people who love Harry Potter, and are looking for something to fill the gap waiting for the next book. Duane's wizard world background is deeper and richer that that of Potter, and the story telling is more sophisticated in some ways. Yet she doesn't quite hit some of the things that have made Potter so popular - my own opinion, which I rarely see anyone else express, is that the Potter books are actually fairly good mysteries. The Potter books combine the schoolboy charm of Kipling's *Stalkey & Co.* stories with Boys' Own Adventures and Hardy Boys mysteries. Duane goes a bit more for straight plot suspense/action. One of the deep elements Duane has is a vision and concept of the universe, and the need to slow entropy, that is used in various ways in many of her works, not just the Young Wizards. But the bottom line is, as much as I like Harry Potter, I would rather that the Young Wizards universe turned out to be the one we actually live in.
Given that background, how do I feel that this book compares? The concept is there but I have some reservations. Whereas in the the last book, her characters journeyed into multiple universes, only to wind up within the universe of a single body - in this book, even though Duane's characters play around in different universes, they are ultimately the created universes of a single mind. As another reviewer says, this book explores the characters of Kit and Nita more deeply. This makes sense as well - they are growing older, and they themselves have developed more. There is more maturity in their actions, even though they are still learning. They have lost a little bit of their own innocence, but gained strength; and their efforts are again trying to protect our own universe. The Lone Power shows up, as usual - but he seems oddly limited compared to the Star-Snuffing threat he has been in the past. Is he already changing? or... well, as I titled this review- mixed feelings - good but not perfect. The plot of this book is interesting as usual, and explores the concept of autism and how austistic children see themselves and the world around them - or refuse to see it. Duane's own nursing background shows up a bit in the explanations and in the character of Kit's mother. Yet the whole book leaves me mildly unsatisfied compared to the others. For one thing, all the previous books have ended with a sacrifice, and a feeling of sadness, countered by the feeling that something good has been bought by that suffering. This one feels more like the Lone Power has simply been outwitted by a clever trick; and the sadness in the book is left over from the previous one, rather than arousing your sympathy from a new sacrifice. Overall I had a feeling of 'rush' - as if this book should have gone through another rewrite, and more development before it was released. Usually the trick in writing is to reduce things that have too much in them - this book feels like it needs to be the 'director's edition', not the 'released edition'. It is STILL very good on its own - yet that 'hasty' feeling, and sense of being somewhat underdeveloped, is what drives my rating.
Another thing Duane does is include subtle references in her books. I suspect that the counsellor that Nita is seeing to help her through her grief, is such a reference. But I seemed to find fewer such references in this book - again, giving a feeling of incompleteness. She has great skill in interweaving them, and they are rarely so obvious as in the last book - yet the details they have added in the other books are missing in this one, also contributing to it seeming more sparse and less complete.
It also struck me that the special characteristics of Darryl, the autistic new wizard on Ordeal, reminded me of something.... and I scarcely had to dig around in my memory to identify what. It almost seems as if this story is meant as a conceptual reply to Ursula K. LeGuin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". Perhaps Duane did not do that consciously - but the comparison immediately leaped to mind. It would be interesting to pair that story and this novel as assigned reading, and ask a class to write an essay.
The bottom line is that this book is clearly a part of the series -but I feel it is the least satisfying. It is clear that she has more to say - there is foreshadowing of more development to come with Kit's dog Ponch -and I look forward to seeing the next volume - but I say "don't rush it". This very worthwhile series deserves her full attention and development - and deserves greater popularity and advertising too, publisher! And we DO want more.
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