Title: Wishing Will
Author: Daniel Harvell
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Middle schooler Will Cricket wants a new look, popular friends, cool parents, and enough coordination to dribble a basketball – but he never actually does anything about it. Instead, Will makes wishes.
When the wishing corporation known as the Sky Castle Network and Enterprises (SCENE) agrees to grant his wish to be someone different, he must work for his reward. Becoming a super-powered wish agent, Will teams up with a shape-changing half-Genie, an agent with delusions of Hollywood stardom, and a stick-in-the-mud wish lawyer. Together, they grant the wishes of Will’s classmates and family, helping the people who pick on Will every day. As if that’s not enough, there’s more in that wish contract than he thought. Will might have to fight not only for his wish, but for the entire world!
I’m always up for a unique-sounding premise, and the idea of a wish-granting company and “wish agents” sounded fun. Plus I’d read the author’s previous novel, The Survivors, and really enjoyed it. So I decided to give Wishing Will a go.
Half the reason I liked Will so much was because I remember being a fat, awkward, and uncool middle schooler. While I was homeschooled and never had to deal with bullies like Will did, I can totally feel for him. (The other half was me having fun watching him use his powers to grant wishes – as I’ve mentioned before, I’m all about the super powers.)
The more secondary characters were delightfully zany (well, most of them). Will’s pink-haired grandmother, a semi-insane former archeologist; Hollywood, a wish agent who happens to be a star (as in the kind you see in the sky); Tang, the half-Genie and Will’s new friend; the prim and proper wish lawyer; his narcoleptic Dreamweaver assistant… They were all such a fun touch of completely outlandish, and yet completely logical.
(Then there were the more normal people, like Will’s mean sister, his workaholic mother, and really-bad-at-being-a-stay-at-home-dad father, who make it very clear why Will would want to be part of a different family.)
The story starts out pretty simple. A fat, bullied kid with a family that’s all sorts of messed up wishes to be somebody else, and a magical wish-granting company agrees to grant it, assuming he helps them grant 7 small wishes. And then it starts sliding down a slippery slope of epic complications.
There’s this huge evil force that’s trying to destroy the world. Oh, and one of Will’s friends might be helping. And his crazy grandma – she’s important for some mysterious reason. And SCENE is going to need Will for more than the standard 7 wishes. Will definitely should have read his contract before signing.
(I called all the major twists, but then again, this book is written for middle schoolers. I doubt most 12- or 13-year-olds would predict the ending.)
I can’t write this review without saying this: Daniel Harvell can write. While I enjoyed his first book, The Survivors, it usually takes two books to prove to me that someone is a good writer. And Daniel Harvell has proved it. So don’t let his indie author status scare you away – his books are every bit as good as traditionally published ones.
I was completely delighted with Wishing Will. And after that epilogue, I’m thinking there’s a sequel in the works somewhere. At least, I hope there is. I would certainly be interested.
I received a free review copy of Wishing Will from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.
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