Wicked - Wicked Years, Bk 1 Author:Gregory Maguire The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West — When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?
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Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.« 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.
I tried very hard to read this book because I do like the Wizard of Oz etc etc. The start of the book is good, but after that..it really drops off and gets to be rather dull, boring, and hard to follow. Half way through I was disappointed by the book, as I was expecting so much more, and was also disappointed with the content that was put into the book. Why children are reading this book I don't know..but they shouldn't be. Older teens perhaps, but not 8 year olds!! I have heard the musical is very different and have even looked up the differences, and yep, it's really different. I think the musical would make more sense, and move at a faster pace and not be so wordy and full of filler words and content.
I say don't waste your time with this book. Think what you want to think, you'll probably come up with a better story anyways!
I have read a couple of Gregory Maguire's other novels, Next Queen of Heaven & Confessions of an Evil Stepsister, with mixed reviews. I liked Confessions a lot, and Queen a little. My feelings about Wicked were a bit underwhelming. Maybe I was tainted by the Broadway Show hype? The story was told in a visually beautiful manner; Maguire is a real detail author. The books makes me curious about the play, but as far as the story, I felt disappointed. I sympathized with the Wicked Witch of the West, Ephalba. Am I naive to want a happy ending for her sake? Maybe. I will still continue to read the rest of this, and his other fairy tale series.