From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—Wisty and Whit Allgood have magical powers, but they don't know it. At least they don't know until they are arrested by the guards of the New Order, which has just come to power. Their parents have always been into herbs and plants and predictions; they don't send their kids to typical schools, and when the teens are allowed to take only one item each to jail with them, they send a drumstick and a book with no words that are visible to the naked eye. The kids start to get an inkling of what they can do when Wisty bursts into flames when she gets angry, and before long she is turning people into creatures and conjuring tornadoes, and lightning bolts shoot from her hands. The bulk of the book takes place when Whit and Wisty are locked up in a reformatory where they are bullied by the guards. The chapters are only one to three pages in length and alternate between the two main characters' points of view. The action doesn't really pick up until the last third of the book, when the siblings make their escape. Readers expecting something akin to Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series (Little, Brown) are bound to be disappointed, but the groundwork is set for subsequent volumes that might make wading through the first one worthwhile.—Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO
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Although marketing muscle might make this book a hit, it’s hard to believe too many readers will be satisfied with the confusing blend of sorcery and political dystopia. Fifteen-year-old Wisty and her 18-year-old brother Whit are awoken one night by troops from the newly elected N.O. (New Order) regime. The siblings are chained, tossed into a prison, and accused of being a witch and wizard—a charge that seems preposterous until Wisty envelops her body in flames and is no worse for wear. With the help of Whit’s dead girlfriend (who exists in a limbo known as the Shadowland), the teens escape to a bombed-out department store where a teen resistance movement fights the dastardly N.O. Wisty and Whit are standard-issue teen smart alecks, the baddies are stock villains who use phrases like “dangerous fiends,” and the meandering plot seems to make up the rules as it goes along. It’s got an enticing prologue, though, and Patterson’s trademark bite-size chapters at least keep things zippy. Grades 6-9. --Daniel Kraus