I’m a Gay Wizard

Wattpad. Oct. 2019. 352p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780993689901.
Gr 9 Up–When a group of bullies almost murder Johnny for being gay and Alison for being trans, the two use the instructions out of a mysterious spellbook to get revenge. Kidnapped after the spell actually works, Johnny and Alison are thrown into the Marduk Institute—a secretive magic school that functions more like a prison and sets them on the path to be wizards, whether they like it or not. Johnny learns that dreams are connected to a dimension called Everywhen and the nightmares he’s had about sand flooding his room may be about a very real monster. With inconsistent pacing, the novel struggles to balance exposition with emotion, leaving the characters alternating between feeling distant and melodramatic. The homophobic attack at the start of the book could be triggering for some readers. Many readers will also find parallels between Johnny, a Latinx character, being dragged from his home by Marduk agents and today’s political climate. Johnny and Alison both find love interests at Marduk, though Johnny’s relationship turns romantic faster than Alison’s, who struggles with trust issues. Most of the world-building is dedicated to unraveling the mysterious Institute, while the magic is of the “imagine you can and you will” variety.
VERDICT The diverse cast is a welcome addition to the fantasy genre and dystopian vibes could appeal to teens, but the melodramatic writing style may be a turnoff for many readers.

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