Wicked - Wicked Years, Bk 1 Author:Gregory Maguire The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West — Wicked is a richly woven tale that takes us to the other, darker side of the rainbow as novelist Gregory Maguire chronicles the Wicked Witch of the West's odyssey through the complex world of Oz -- where people call you wicked if you tell the truth. — Year... more »s before Dorothy and her dog crash-land, another little girl makes her presence known in Oz. This girl, Elphaba, is born with emerald-green skin -- no easy burden in a land as mean and poor as Oz, where superstition and magic are not strong enough to explain or to overcome the natural disasters of flood and famine. But Elphaba is smart, and by the time she enters the university in Shiz, she becomes a member of a charmed circle of Oz's most promising young citizens.
Elphaba's Oz is no utopia. The Wizard's secret police are everywhere. Animals -- those creatures with voices, souls and minds -- are threatened with exile. Young Elphaba, green and wild and misunderstood, is determined to protect the Animals -- even it means combating the mysterious Wizard, even if it means risking her single chance at romance. Even wiser in guilt and sorrow, she can find herself grateful when the world declares her a witch. And she can even make herself glad for that young girl from Kansas.
In Wicked, Gregory Maguire has taken the largely unknown world of Oz and populated it with the power of his own imagination. Fast-paced, fantastically real and supremely entertaining, this is a novel of vision and re-vision. Oz never will be the same again« less
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire begins decades before Dorothy falls into the scene, with the birth of a strangely green baby girl who has unusually sharp teeth. We follow Elphaba as she grows up, attends university, and falls into the political turmoil behind the scenes at the Emerald City. Maguire paints a detailed background of the realistic politics that shape Oz into the country it is when Dorothy arrives. The Wicked Witch of the West may be a tortured soul, but for different reasons than you had previously thought. The book is perfectly understandable even if you have never seen the movie or read the original book, but several parts are much funnier if you have. The end of the story can drag on if you are not interested in introspective psychological monologues, but flipping past a few pages of internal commentary can speed the story along.
Fairy tale retelling, interesting reading and silly at times, but like the other Maguire book I've read before--Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister--I found it to be a bit slow and draggy in spots, and my attention wandered. Definitely not as good as all the hype had me hoping for. Still, I found the speculation as to the origins of Glinda and Elphaba--and her dead sister and the ruby (actually silver) slippers from L. Frank Baum's tale quite interesting and amusing, as were the political machinations that got the Wizard where was when Dorothy came on the scene a few years later. Maguire certainly has an imagination! I'd like to see the Broadway production of this, though--I bet that would be something!
This book is great. Be prepared that it will not follow your idea of "Oz" with respect to the movie. There are definate "religious" and political undertones. However it will capture your imagination and you won't be able to put it down.
Impossible for anyone who hasn't read the book to believe that they'd be able to suspend disbelief enough to accept the Wicked Witch of the West as the "good guy." My son-in-law nearly disowned me when I tried to describe the book to him.
Still, this book can and does make you believe it!
You'll never look at Oz the same way after reading this book. But don't worry, Judy Garland singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" will still sound good to you if it does now.
patticom - , reviewed Wicked (Wicked Years, Bk 1) on
Another of GM's books that is definitely NOT for children. There are a few really creepy/icky parts in this book that I could have done without (in the city of Oz), but on the whole it was unique and fun, a very different and curious take on the classic story. I have NOT seen the musical, but I can tell you from photos I've seen that the sister "wicked witch" seems to be quite different in the musical than the book. STOP reading here if you don't want minor spoilers.... If you loved the classic Oz story, you may find some of the character changes offensive. Dorothy, at least in the book, is portrayed as an insipid idiot. The Wizard is evil, and Glinda is full of herself. If you are willing to accept these as another possible point of view, read it and enjoy it!
Most of the book is from the point of view of the people around the Wicked Witch of the West. Those around her don't understand her It is only in the last section that we see things from her point of view. I wish that we saw more of the book from her point of view instead of those around her.