By Mark Scott Piper
If you were granted the ability to make one wish, what would it be? Perhaps you would want infinite riches, or an end to world poverty. Undoubtedly, most of us long for such an opportunity. The end of all our worries and set up financially for the rest of our life. Or maybe you are more altruistic in your motives and long to save all of mankind. Put a stop to all the pain and suffering which flashes across our television screens on a daily basis. Whichever way you lean, the ultimate decision may not be quite as easy as it seems. Be it benevolent or greedy, making such a huge wish would be sure to have unintended consequences- some dire. The pressure of having such an important decision to make would be understandably huge! This is exactly the case in author Mark Scott Piper’s novel You Wish. For those who love Coming of Age fantasy which is drenched with a satirical look at pop culture… this is the book for you!
The book follows the dilemma of the protagonist, fourteen-year old Jake Parker. He discovers an old ship’s lantern when he and his friends are out exploring an abandoned house. What Jake soon discovers however is that this is no mere lantern. It comes with the power to grant him three wishes for anything in the world which he desires. After testing- and wasting- his first wish by ordering a pizza, Jake makes his second wish under the direct observation of his entire community. He is observed rubbing his lantern, which is magically followed by the wish coming true. Now everyone on the planet wants a piece of Jake. Zero to hero! He becomes an instant media sensation with pressure reigning down upon him from every which way. Coming to the realization that holding all this power may not be all it is cut out to be, Jake knows he will have to make a decision. Can he possibly make himself and everyone around him happy and content? Or is his wish about to net him a whole new host of enemies and send him back into the depths of obscurity?
This is indeed a novel which will appeal to many young people. It focuses upon the struggles of a teen-aged protagonist as he goes up against some very powerful, corrupt and foolish adults. As such, the Coming of Age theme is quite powerful. Be that as it may, You Wish will also attract an adult audience as this theme is aptly supported by a clever and penetrating satirical look at pop culture. The age of the media circus, social media and instant celebrity status is at the forefront of this book. The author merges his ideas into a fascinating and captivating story. His writing flows beautifully and the novel is perfectly paced. There are numerous twists and turns which the reader will unlikely see coming, and essentially guarantees the continual turning of pages!
While the Coming of Age theme is strong in this novel, so is the concept of friendship and loyalty. This is skillfully brought to light by the powerful character development. As the protagonist, Jake experiences the most growth. He starts out in the tale as a child and ends up becoming a young man. He shows a depth of character which is not only believable, but quite memorable for the level of loyalty, passion and integrity he displays. There are many other characters in the novel who are fleshed out quite well. Most of the adults are shown as greedy and manipulative- driven by lust for power and fame. This is not so for all of them however. Jake’s mother for instance shows her own strength, devotion and loyalty to Jake from start to finish. The temptation of instant riches and celebrity status never takes her eyes- and heart- away from what is truly important!
All in all, You Wish gets my highest recommendation. It is a great selection for all audiences and should be required reading for those striving to understand our celebrity obsessed world.
5 out of 5 Wishful Stars for this one! *****