Wannabe Wizard (False Icons #2) by Rick Gualtieri and R.E. Carr Book Review

Write on: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 4898


WANNABE WIZARD is awesome. That is my opening opinion of the book. The Second String Savior series is an immensely fun series by Rick Gualtieri. It takes place as a side story to his immensely popular TOME OF BILL books that follows the adventures of Bill the vampire (no, not the True Blood one). Bill and his buddies bumble their way through all manner of disasters before almost destroying the world as well as accidentally saving it. The adventures of Jesse Flores follow her as she struggles to do her own heroics while Bill's idiocy rapidly changes the world in the background.

The original Tome of Bill books had a crass humor and black comedy element. They were written around a jerkish 20-something nerd that had less than enlightened attitudes to his fellow man and women as well. Rick Gualtieri was aware his character was a jerk and thus Bill is subject to frequent humiliations. The addition of R.E. Carr as a co-author influences the text to give the protagonist a more likable subdued quality as well as better awareness of the issues a 16 year old girl might have when subject to being the Chosen One. As much as I love the Tome of Bill series, and I do love them, I feel this is superior for their influence.

Jesse Flores is a young woman who mistakenly believed she was the Icon, the one woman (or man) chosen to slay the forces of darkness. Sounds familiar, right? Except Jesse is NOT the Icon and ends up finding herself sworn to the god Uranus (less jokes about this than expected). Uranus charges her with a series of Herculean-esque tasks to complete in order to help save the world.  Probably. It's very questionable just how Jesse's trials benefits anyone but the Olympians.

Unfortunately, Jesse is being sabotaged at every turn. Her pseudo-boyfriend, Gary, is the child of rich witches and his mother is determined to prevent him from helping Jesse achieve her goals. Jesse is also stuck with vampire politics as her father has been transformed against his will and while she's befriended (perhaps more) a vampire named Wyatt, she's got "issues" over this. Oh and demonic otters as well as dryads. Her life is weird that way.

I absolutely love the storyline here with the book reminding me of both Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Greek Mythology. The use of furies, dryads, Eryines, gorgons, and more all make this book's mythological creatures feel very different from the regular Tome of Bill universe. I especially liked the inclusion of the Minotaur and the use of Moolnir the battle-ax. That's some quality puntastic humor there. In a real way, with no disrespect intended, it reminds me of an adult version of the Percy Jackson books with a focus on how terrifying as well as insane mythology tends to be.

I did have a small issue with the fact that Jesse crushed very hard on Wyatt despite their considerable age differences. This makes sense because she's a teenage girl and Wyatt never shows any sign that he reciprocates but it is a problem for those who don't think that a sixteen-year-old should be mooning over a century old that looks in his twenties. Nevertheless, I also think poor Gary needs to go as a romantic lead since he's just terrible at it.

The story is full of action, humor, character-building, and nods to real world folklore. I think that people who love urban fantasy will love this book from start to finish. The ending is likely to be very controversial and is what ties the story most to the Tome of Bill, specifically its recent revival in the Bill of the Dead series. I understand why they did it but I really think we could have gotten a dozen books out of Jesse's adventures without any real crossover. She's that strong of a character.

I read the audiobook version of this book and give props to the narrator. They did a fantastic job capturing Jesse's voice, emotions, and annoyance at all the craziness going on around her. I also bought the ebook version and didn't see any problems there. I will state that this book is probably best read in conjunction with the main Bill series, though, or you're not going to know what happened at the end.

Available here

Last modified on Monday, 26 October 2020 20:22
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.