Book Review: Off to be a Wizard (2013)
In Scott Meyer’s Off To Be A Wizard, we follow Martin Banks in his journey to be a wizard: well, not any kind of wizard, a computer programing kind. Meyer employs an interesting hybrid of computer based Science Fiction with time travel to the past with fantasy elements. After his mind-numbing job of not-of-any-importance, Martin hacks into a number of corporate sites and discovers a file that, as Martin, is the operating file for every human, plant, animal, and object on the planet. Martin learns that by manipulating the data of the file, he can manipulate the world around him. After leaving his current time, Martin finds himself in Medieval England. Once there, he attempts to pass himself off as a wizard and finds others in similar situations.
I found Off To Be A Wizard to be a compelling read
Meyer develops an interesting relationship between the medieval stereotypes and computer-programming archetypes. The comedic contrast between those two elements is a mixture of contemporary jargon in a primitive setting. When preparing for this review, I reread the novel and would give the novel the Ok, Decent Effort. Even though this rating appears in the middle of the rating scale, I would still recommend this novel. This was a quick read because of the traditional elements that may appear in other Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. In addition, the language is not too complex in the specific parameters of how Meyer describes the mechanics of manipulating the file. However, I found Off To Be A Wizard to be a compelling read and Martin and the other wizards’ antics constantly captivated me throughout the novel.
The negligence of telling the audience what is happening takes away from the reader’s ability to create the scene in their imagination
One of my major criticisms of the novel, as a whole, is that a few times throughout Meyer would revert to telling the audience what was happening, instead of showing through the content. The negligence of telling the audience what is happening takes away from the reader’s ability to create the scene in their imagination. Because much of the dialogue between Martin and Phillip, or from Gary or Tyler, is witty and comedic, I wished that Meyer would employ more of the cleverness used in other parts of the book.
One quote I thought was significant in articulating an underlying message of the novel was, “It occurred to Martin that one way or other, stage magic was the art of manipulating the pigeons” (229). The context of this quote was when the novel’s antagonist, Jimmy, began attacking Martin and the other wizards. [SPOILERS] At this point, Jimmy describes his plan to his fellow wizards. Martin had a revelation about the essence of magic: manipulation of some kind. Even though the manipulation may be through slight of hand, computer programming, or actual magic (whatever that may be), the concept of transforming the world around remains the same. I think the implications of this idea is interesting in it’s simplicity because is that not what happens for everyone? Do we not transform the world around us in some way, everyday? On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel because I could relate to the quest for purpose Martin goes through. I would still recommend this novel as a light, fun read.