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‚Äôd 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.
A fascinating look from another perspective of the characters from The Wizard of Oz. A little difficult to get into the language (some words that were supposedly 'common' but were never really explained) but other than that, really enjoyable.
A great concept, but unfortunately, I tried, but I just couldn't get into this book. The politics of Oz bored me and they took up a substantial amount of this novel. I was delighted to reach the point where Dororthy arrives in Oz, but it seemed the book was rushed to completion. My favourite section of the novel was Elphaba and Galinda's school years together - who'd have thought they would be roommates and friends!
Awful book! This is actually the first one that I cannot finish and the first one that gets a 1 star rating from me. I tried desperately to keep reading it because I love the idea behind the story but the plot drags and the character/place names are awful. I made it to page 125 and couldn't take it any more. I had such high hopes and this book fell flat.
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com
Have you ever read a popular book and wondered why it was so popular? That's exactly how I felt as I worked my way through WICKED. Actually, that's not entirely true. I know why it's a New York Times Bestseller. Part of it has to do with the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I expected a light, fairy tale-like story. It's based on a children's book. There's a Broadway musical about it. Sounds like it should be fun, right? Uh, not quite. I get the feeling, though, that a lot of people thought as I did and bought WICKED looking for an easy-to-read lead-up to THE WIZARD OF OZ. I wonder how many of them finished reading the book when they figured out the truth?
Although to be fair, WICKED doubtless also owes some of its popularity to the fact that it's a well-written, literary novel that can be appreciated by well-read, literary-type people. Unfortunately, I'm really not one of those. Giving me a piece of deep, meaningful literature is like giving a copy of Hemingway's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA to a manatee. In other words, I was disappointed. My disappointment was partly in the book for not fulfilling my expectations, and partly in myself for not being able to appreciate a quality literary effort.
In case you've been living in a hollowed out tree for the last couple of years and haven't heard about the play, WICKED is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West. The book delves far deeper into the witch's life and times than any musical could in only two hours, however. In the book version of WICKED, readers are introduced to the witch, whose real name is Elphaba, when she is first born. She's green and has dangerous, pointy teeth. Needless to say, she's not too popular with the other children. Even her parents aren't too sure about her.
As the story progresses, we see Elphaba at college. She falls in with a number of fellow students, some of whom are more and others less accepting of the strange green girl. It's not just her skin color that's different, though. Elphaba thinks and acts differently than other people. And she has this aversion to water.... Well, we all know how that turns out for her.
The book is an interesting departure from the Oz books, including such details as why the Cowardly Lion is able to talk, and the fact that everyone in Oz thought Dorothy's dog, Toto, was the most irritating thing to ever draw breath. I wish, however, that I could have liked some of the characters. No one was particularly likeable, as far as I was concerned. Even Elphaba, who readers should have had some sympathy for, seemed odd to me, and I never understood her motivation for anything she did. In other words, I could have gotten over the fact that she was green, but it really bothered me that she didn't act normal. Also, a word of warning: Even though these are essentially fairy tale characters, this book treats them like adults, complete with sex, swearing, and the occasional murder. Younger readers should steer clear, and older readers should be aware of what's in store here.
In general, I recommend this book for OLDER readers who are huge fans of the Oz books or the Wicked play and want to go deeper. According to my husband, who is capable of appreciating fine literature, it also has literary merit. But for those of us who want to keep our memories of the Oz stories as sweet as the old Judy Garland film was, those readers might want to be careful around WICKED.
There are few books I've read in my lifetime I disliked more. The only one I can think of right off the top of my head is Catch-22 which I was never able to complete. This book is a thinly veiled attack on religion and anything remotely regarded by the author as constrictive. There are several times when plot developments occur without any reason other than trying to remain within the confines of L. Frank Baum's original stories. Outside of the fact that the names of characters and places are the same as the original story, the book bears little resemblance to the stories written some 100 years ago. It is vulgar, crude, and generally a very boring read.
I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone. I hesitate to even list it to pawn it on anyone else, but I see little reason to keep it in my collection.
I loved Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, so I had high hopes for this book. The writing was good and the rethinking of Oz and the characters of the Wizard of Oz intelligent and thought-provoking. However, it wasn't good enough for me to want to reread. This is the sort of book to be read at a leisurely pace over several days, and didn't keep me turning the pages the way Confessions did. I was surprised to realize that I actually liked the retelling of the Wizard of Oz in the musical Wicked better than the book for character development, although the book definitely had more nuanced political and religion-related commentary.
I just couldn't get into this book. While parts were interesting, and the idea of what happened in OZ before Dorothy intrigued me, a lot of the plot just dragged on and on and I couldn't finish the book. I found much of the book too far fetched (even for OZ) and the youthful characters seemed to be too imature and lacked any of the refined characteristics you get from L. Frank Baum (or maybe it's that the characters are too mature, as this is not a children's book). I think if you're looking for a good fantasy story you may enjoy this book, but other than names and places, do not expect this to be the OZ of the original books.
I tried reading this book about three years ago when a friend suggested it to me. I just couldn't get into then. I ordered it as my first book after joining PBS. Again, I really tried to get into this book. I got as far as page 166 before I finally just threw it down in disgust. It is just ridiculous and boring. There just doesn't seem to be any point to it. Too bad I can't get the time back that I wasted on reading it.
Im not sure what I was expecting prior to reading "Wicked", but whatever it was, I finished the book with a feeling of disappointment. Where the movie "Wizard of Oz" depicts The Wicked Witch of the West as a very wicked witch indeed, "Wicked" characterizes her as a lonely, confused person who isn't sure of herself or where she fits into the convoluted society of OZ.
The Wizard is portrayed as a despot, an unkind person from another world (Kansas, maybe?). A person of questionable morals who felt the laws of OZ didn't pertain to him.
All in all, I felt the author rambled on in many of the chapters, causing me to just put the book down in disgust, only to come back to it later. (I hate to start a book and not finish it. However, I have been known to do just that in some cases!)
In summary, I just don't agree with the reviews on the back cover of the book. I don't see myself reading any of Mr. Maguire's other books. All you members reading my review - remember, not everyone's taste falls along the same lines - take what I have to say with a grain of salt. :o)
I was a little reluctant to read this because it's a Wizard-of-Oz
related book, and I was afraid that I'd really object to what had been
done to L. Frank Baum's characters. But it didn't bother me, probably
because this book really is so entirely different. It's also really
more of a take-off from the movie, not the books, although there are a
few book-references in there as well.
Basically, it takes the character of the Wicked Witch of the West, and
treats her as if she were a real person, a woman named Elphaba, who
just happens to be green - and allergic to water.
The book is mostly a character study, and an exploration of what might
cause a person to be perceived as "wicked." Far from being an innocent
fantasyland, the Oz portrayed here is rife with political conniving,
exploitation, and a plethora of social issues. As she grows up, her
situation shapes Elphaba, but she's also an intelligent, self-aware
person... whose fate, we know, will eventually intersect with Dorothy
I enjoyed the book - but I neither thought it was as wonderful as some
reviewers claim - or as much of a "downer" as others have said it was.
In this amazing novel, we follow the life of Elphaba, later known as the Wicked Witch of the West, from birth to the bitter end. In between is a gripping tale that ponders the philosophy of good and evil, and makes you rethink your preconceptions of what you think you know.
The 'Wonderful Wizard of Oz' is anything but. More like a ruthless dictator without a shred of compassion or moral decency, let alone a conscience. The politics of Oz are complicated, but compelling, and all roads (including the Yellow Brick Road), lead straight back to the Wizard. Indirectly, as well as directly, his actions shape Elphaba into the person, or Witch, we know her as.
This book is a feast for the brain. I loved the words he used, even when i thought i would need a dictionary. It was a journey through a remarkable and vivid world, on the constant edge of political turmoil. I found the religious arguments on all sides deep and thoughtful. I found myself feeling deeply for the unfortunate girl who had the ill luck of being born with green skin, which in turn colored her life from start to finish (pun intended). Born into a family as screwed up as they come, her dysfunctions are as natural to her as the air we all breathe.
She fights for her entire life to be different, unique, and yes, to do good in the world. Animal rights is her passion, and she fights for justice and equality in Oz even as the odds are stacked against her, and even those who fought with her succumb to normal everyday lives, and forget the righteousness of their former campaigns against evil and tyranny.
Readers will be amazed at how Maguire can turn a story everyone knows into a complex and mesmerizing tale where more than one side lives to be told, and everything comes full circle.
I loved this book. Many people say it is hard to read or slow, but i did not find it to be either. I found it remarkable. The philosophies discussed within will turn you on your head.
My favorite quote from the book:
I don't comprehend religion, although conviction is a concept I'm beginning to get. In any case, someone with a real religious conviction is, I propose, a religious convict, and deserves locking up.
I tried...I really did. Three times in fact. But this was, by far, the most boring book I have ever read. Each time I would try to go a little further along to see if I could have been mistaken but I was never able to finish it.
Iíve lost count of the number of times Iíve read Wicked, but I can safely say that I enjoy it more every time I read it. I adore getting caught up in the world of Oz regardless of the source, but Maguireís world holds a special place in my heart. I feel like I catch more about this world every time I read the series, which makes me respect Maguire even more as an author.
This version of Oz provides a great backdrop for commentary on things that are going on in our society, and really can be modified to think of social issues weíre dealing with at any time. The struggle of the Animals in this book can be likened to the struggle of any minority in our social landscape, which makes it more sad to me because I know these kinds of horrible things have happened in our history, and are still happening now in some way or another.
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I was surprised by how much I disliked this book. I found it meandering and uninteresting, its characters unlikeable and not particularly compelling, and its point...obscure. Maguire takes pleasure in constantly referencing the complicated history and politics of Oz while rarely elaborating on the backstory he's created - eventually I found this unbearably tedious. One to avoid.
This was so full of promise and I chomped my way through the first third of the book, only to really skip through the animals talking part. I wanted this to be be the other side of Oz, but I think it was more about "How thick can I make this book." I am in the book selling business,and definately do NOT recommend this. Our book club realy tanked this one.
I love love love this book! It tells the story of the wicked witch and all the people in her life. Good and evil? or just humans and nature's creature and the choices we make? Hmmm. Excellent intriguing read.
The idea of this book really fascinated me. However, when I read it, I found it to be too dark for my personal taste. It has several interesting themes but, for me, it was hard to keep reading it. If you would like to explore the theme of the nature of evil, you may find this book a very interesting reach.
The idea of the book seemed captivating and I really really wanted to like it, but there were adulterous and sexual themes and language that ruined it for me. Unable to finish the book with a clear conscience.
Personally, I found this book very difficult to read. I just finished it after about 10 months! (which is very unusual for me, I usually read about a book a week). My problem may have been that I saw the play first. The book drug on & on & I am sorry to say that I didn't find it so enjoyable. But that is why they make chocolate & vanilla, right?
Was the Witch of the West Wicked? This is the question the prequel to the Wizard of Oz attempts to answer. The concept of the book was inventive but some parts of the story were predictable (or maybe I just didn't like where the story went). I think it must be very hard to grow up green or for that matter in "anyway" that is different from the "norm". In this way it was a fairy tale not unlike the original. All in all, Im glad I read it.
This was one of the toughest books I've ever read, with unusual names and places making it hard to comprehend. But overall it was a fantastic book and I'm glad I read it! Now looking forward to the Broadway play...
Take the wild ride where you see the side of Oz before Dorothy planted her house there. This book is about the lives of the witches of Oz. From birth the little green baby would be known as Elphaba, she would have a very interesting, but difficult path in life. In college she would be roomates with The bubbly, popular, and blonde Galinda, (later to be changed to Glinda). The friendships, the love lifes, the amazing world that Gregory Maguire wrote is magical and keeps you spellbound. Come visit the Witches of Oz!
I ordered this book because a lot of my friends have read it and liked it. I was warned by another PBS participant that it was hard to get into. It WAS hard to get into. The storyline was good and it was interesting to get the other side of the story... but it was so detail oriented that it felt like a lot of filler. I ended up skipping many paragraphs just to get to the meat of the story. Overall, I enjoyed the storyline.
All stories have two sides. This one is the story of the Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West her sister the Wicked Witch of the East and Glinda the supposedly good witch. It tells of their lives, very detailed. Full of legends, mystery, politics, murder and magic. A wonderful story. If you are a fan of the Wizard of Oz it is a must read. You wont be sorry. Well done Mr McGuire.
They don't get much better than this. Read the book long before the play hit the theater here years ago. WONDERFUL wonderful story. I love the play on children's stories. Maquire has a comedic knack for this!
A wildly perverted story that springboards from the Oz series. Couldn't make it through the first three chapters without feeling like thousands of brain cells were wasted in the effort. I cannot believe this ran on broadway for as long as it did!
I enjoyed this book. Maguire addresses a lot of interesting issues brought up by the original story. Remember, this is based on the novel, not the movie. Certain details will be different if you're only familiar with the movie. This is a deep read, but not difficult. If you like debating the origins, and even the very definition, of things like evil, this is the book for you!
not the easiest read, but well worth it. It is very dark and political, but good. maquire can get mixed up in the details like tolkein but it just takes a little more effort and patience to get through. Back in 1998, this was first time I had seen of re-telling a classic story from the so called villians perspective and it blew me away.
This novel is so much more than a mere novel. Let me start by stating two things: 1) I have read many Maguire novels in the past, and this is by far the best, and 2) I love the "other side" of the story novels.
Wicked is about Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, from The Oz novels, or for most of us, from the Wizard of Oz film. I am fascinated when authors give us the "other side" of these novels. By playing with classics, these authors actually corrupt our prior knowledge of characters that are almost historic. By this I mean, that when you play with the Wizard of Oz, and make Dorothy the sub-plot and the Witch the main plot, it makes one realize the layers of all stories....like for instance, what we think of as history. Isn't history subjective also? We learn historic events through authors, and their bias and subjectivity are naturally captured in their writings, and Maguire puts his own spin on the wonderful world of Oz. Anyway, I digress.
Not only is this novel about the Witch, or Elphaba, but it is also about the fictional world of Oz. Again, what is reality and what is fiction? I cannot help but ponder these ideas because Maguire makes us think about society, prejudice, and oppression throughout this wonderful novel, and he presents his ideas so eloquently. I do not know what genre this novel gets classified into, probably fiction, but I think it is more of a science fiction novel. Not the Star Trek kind of sience fiction, but the Ursula Leguin's Left Hand of Darkness type of science fiction. Wicked makes us think of utopian societies, and dysfunctional ones.
Maguire creates a fictional world for us in this novel. Or, does he? It is eerily reminiscent of the same oppressions and power struggles in our world......if you keep the Nazi's rise to power in the back of your mind, this novel is downright frightening at times. I could not help but compare the oppression of Maguire's Animals with the oppression of Jews in Hitler's Germany.
But again, I digress. Elphaba, the wicked witch, is not wicked at all in this tale. She is the "misunderstood rebel" fighting against the oppression of the...well, the oppressed. This is truly her story: how she was conceived, her childhood, her student years and her adulthood. She is not the carciture of evil presented in the famous film: I must confess here that I have never read Braum's novels, but I think I may have to. I have a feeling the film did to his novels, what Disney did to Lewis Carroll's Looking Glass.
Please, Please please read Wicked. Even if you have read Mirror, Mirror and not enjoyed it (which I didn't), give this one a try. There are so many statements about society, family, and power relations throughout this novel, that it should be taught as a college course somewhere. It is incredibly insightful, but more importantly, it makes the reader think and wonder. Isn't that what our novels should be doing? So few novels do this anymore that it almost comes as a shock when one does.
So think and wonder and read Wicked. If only to read the sequel, A Son of a Witch. With a title like that, how can you not read it?
I read this, and then saw the musical. I think if I'd done the opposite, I would have been disappointed. It's not a bad book. It gives you a new perspective on The Wizard of Oz. However it's a little weird and a little bit slow in spots. Some of the things had me going "huh?" a few times.
Can be quite confusing even when you know the Wizard of Oz story well. If you're not familiar with Munchkinland and the Emerald City, don't bother reading this until you at least watch the movie. But the book is a must read before you see the Broadway show or you'll never get what's going on.
I liked this book. I thought the entire idea of giving perspective on the behavior on the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch for the Wizard of Oz was quite creative. This seems to be one of those books that will either have you on the edge of your seat or disinterested from the beginning, so it's pretty much a draw. In any case, the story itself will forever change your views of the original Oz books.
This was such a creative book. I loved the thought of having the story from the witch's perspective and it was so well-written, my view of Oz will probably stick with this one instead of the original. I just loved it!
While the imaginative details describing how the wicked witch came to be who she was were amazing, I found this book to be very dark and had to drag myself through it. We bought tickets to the musical before I started reading, and two chapters into it I was much afraid to take my daughters to see it. BE AWARE: the musical and book share the same tag line and basic characters, but the similarity stops there. The family loved the light hearted musical but I won't let my daughters near the book until they are adults.
I read this in 2001 after finding it in a book shop in Los Angeles. This was a year or so before the musical debuted. I was a little disappointed. It's dense, more a political drama than a whimsical adventure. When I was in New York the year Wicked debuted on Broadway I was almost reluctant to see the play. If you loved the play, you will be disappointed by the book. It's good, very smartly written, but dense and plodding and really tough to get through. Luckily I read this before I saw the play.
This book is full of rich detail that immerses you in the world of OZ decades before the time of Dorothy's arrival. Maguire makes us question the nature of good and evil and the human psyche. I picked up this book and lost myself in its pages, not wanting to stop until the last page was turned.
I wasn't horribly impressed by this, though I did like the story itself. The beginning just dragged a bit too much for my taste and the ending seemed like a cop-out. I liked the middle so much that I've got the rest of his books on my TBR pile though!
I really enjoyed this book. It was a "slow" read though...you can't just breeze through it and totally understand it all. It's more of a thinking-outside-of-the-box type book. I will never ever think of anything dealing with the Wizard of Oz the same again. I was so intrigued by the characters, and didn't have any trouble confusing them as some readers have mentioned. I did have to flip to the map in the first few pages a million times though haha! I recommend this book.
I thought this was a really great book! I liked being able to see the original story from another perspective. Some of the writing was hard to understand, but I liked how the author tied up most of the loose ends by the ending.
The writing was creative and witty but I didn't care much for the storyline. There was almost too many details to follow and the characters made choices that I didn't think matched up with the storyline.
It was an enjoyable read. Tough at some parts, but mostly enjoyable. Gave an interesting POV, which is always fun. But after reading it I feel like I should have been warned ahead of time that I needed to be pretty familiar with the Wizard of Oz. Some assumptions were made in the book and made it hard to follow parts of the plot. So re-read Wizard of Oz first, unless you remember it pretty well. It's only fun if you can compare the two...
I wanted to read this book because of how much I enjoyed the Broadway play. That being said, the book doesn't resemble the play very much. The story is much more involved and enjoyable in a different way. The story involves love, friendship and quite a bit of politics. The "wicked witch of the west" is really a good person with good intentions. Good read although it gets a little confusing with all the different aspects of Oz. I would recommend this book very much.
I started this book 11 years ago and hated it. I'm glad I held on to it because after seeing and loving Wicked the musical I decided to try the book again. There were parts that dragged for me, and as a fairly intelligent person it frustrated me that I had never even heard of some of the vocabulary the author uses. It almost seemed to me that the author was trying to impress by the obscure words he used; we get it, you're smart, just tell the story! All in all though, this is very clever and imaginative storytelling. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author, but after I get some quick, light reads in first.
Wicked does not live up to its hype. Maguire uses the book as a platform to project his pseudo-philosophical prattle. If the misunderstanding of "evil" makes your mouth salivate and froth (or perhaps if you have an affinity for the word "froth"), go for it. For the rest of us, save your credit.
Not the best thing to give a poor review to a book you are trying to swap but that is unfortunately the case again. Liking the original as well as the musical along with the feeling that this could be an interesting read, didn't turn out that way. I have a bad habit of continuing to read a book until the end even though there is no reason to. For me the characters weren't all that interesting (the possibility was there but unfulfilled) and I really didn't care about them. Mainly wished for the book to end. It was well written (words and grammar) but who cares about that if it is the only good thing to say about it in a work of fiction.
I liked this book. it is out of my genre but it so clearly gives you another prospective of the wicked witch her sister and how all of OZ was not all there was in this place. The writing is very clever, it bogged in political issues of their day but only for a chapter. Interestingly enough just change the peoples and cratures and it could be placed in many countries of today. I could relate to the green girl!
I enjoyed this book. It really made the whole Wizard of Oz story make sense. After reading this book the movie was on, and as I watched it, I started seeing the story from the Wicked Witch's perspective.
I agree with most of the previous reviews as it has many parts that I had to drag through and some I needed ro reread to make sure I understood as they seemed strange. I was about to go and see the play so I wanted to be done before I went...otherwise I think I may have given up. It is not your typical book and I dont think it is for everyone. The play is different in parts and not what I expected but am still glad I read before I went. It was not a book that really grabbed me in so it took me a while to get through. Not something I would read agin but still I am glad I read it. Also was not the worst book I've read and not the best either.
Overall, this book was very good. It was very different from the musical and not what I was expecting but I still enjoyed reading it. There were some sad parts and the ending was a bit depressing but, like I said, it was still very good. The sequel, Son of a Witch, answered a lot of the questions I had at the end of Wicked, so I would recommend that one as well.
Upon its arrival I held it in my hands and stared at the cover for what seemed an eternity. Finally I gently opened the cover, staring down at the image before me for several minutes,I then began my journey into this new world created by Gregory Maguire.
I was mesmerized immediately and couldn't wait to snuggle up with it every free moment and step into the magic once again. Over and over I found myself gasping at vivid descriptions of events , or of what one of the characters was feeling as they lived or recalled in their memories. Lying within the pages,the few illustrations included and the authors imagination you will fall inside a world you would never have imagined as a child reading or watching "The Wizard of Oz".
I can't wait to read the next two in this trilogy and see where it will take me. I hope you too will enjoy this one. Blessings Bright & Dark...
I had a hard time reading this book. The storyline was great, but the way it was written made it difficult to keep my attention. Hopefully one day I'll be able to see the play and enjoy it much more. I will say it is a must read - if you can make yourself plow thru it - because some times it did feel like work to keep on reading.
i was not impressed at all with this book. i waited so long to finally read it that i was very excited to recieve it in the mail. i normally will only take a few days to read a book, sometimes devouring books in mere hours, but this book took me 2 weeks to read. there was so much hype about this book, especially since it had been made into a broadway musical, and it had been very highly recommended by several friends, but it left me wanting. i understood the premise alright, a reworking of frank l baum's wizard of oz, a prequel if you will, only told from the perspective of the wicked witch of the west. i anticipated humor, wit, tongue-in-cheek parody. what i got was a book about politics. on top of that it was the politics of a made up society that i have nothing invested in. for the life of me, i just couldn't make myself care about this book, its characters or the politics. the characters were superficial to me, lacking any depth or personality at all. The main character, elphaba, was vague with her thoughts and emotions, even with the reader, and left me wondering what her thinking was behind her actions and that made it very hard to care about her at all. the time frame of the book seemed off to me too. about the time i'd start to immerse myself in the story line the time frame would jump ahead, several years ahead in fact, and just pick up like you are of aware of what took place between where it stopped and now. it was distracting, i found myself asking,"what happened next?". Anyway, i do not think i will be reading any more of mr. maguire's books. i do not care to read another story that makes no sense and leaves me frustrated that i just wasted time on a story that didnt take me anywhere or teach me anything. that makes me truly sad...how i wanted to be able to say that this was one of the best books id ever read, but alas, it was not. not even close.
This is one of my favorite books. It gives you another perspective on the characters of the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba, the witch and heroine of the story is really not so bad. She was desperately misunderstood by society and circumstances made her out to be so evil. There are a lot of political undertones in the book and it was much more serious than the musical or the movie. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series- Son of a Witch.
This one didn't impress me much. The author had a very interesting idea, but got so tied up with the desire to comment on society and human nature that he left holes in the story. Hopefully "Son of a Witch" is better, though I haven't picked that one up yet.
This book changed my life.
I re-read it like once a year.
This book is everything a novel should be and more - it's attention to detail is amazing but it never feels small. Everything that I've read by Gregory Maquire has been great and this is my personal favorite of his.
You should read it.
The author's elaboration of the classic, the Wizard of Oz, particularly from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective, was very well written. Where does evil come from? Are some born to it? Or, are they, possibly, just doing the best they can in the circumstances they are in and are misinterpreted by others? What is morality? The author takes on these kinds of questions from the Witch's perspective. I found it fascinating, and ordered the sequel, Son of a Witch.
This was a great book that delves into the political machinations of Oz. It is an adult book and the musical made from this book was fabulous! This presented a whole new perspective on the beloved "candy coated" land of Oz that we all grew up with- terrific book that requires some in-depth thinking on the readerís behalf.
This book definitely sucked - while you come to care for the "wicked witch" she still makes incredibly stupid choices and doesn't stand up for the people in her life... by the end I was just hoping everyone would die and I wouldn't have to think about them anymore.
I really wanted to like this book. It was getting rave reviews as a musical, but wasn't coming to Los Angeles for quite a while. The concept sounded great: Tell the story of the antagonist. Not just the story from the point of view of the antagonist, like Jon Scieszka's Wolf version of "The Three Little Pigs," but a real meaty story that has almost nothing to do with Dorothy. I really wanted to like it...
Unfortunately, I just couldn't get around Gregory Maguire's style. The first few chapters were interesting, but then it became much more verbose and, at the same time, vague and distant from the events. I guess a good analogy would be a movie that starts off looking good, but then the image starts getting fuzzy around the edges. And then the camera starts shooting from a distance so you aren't exactly sure what you're supposed to be paying attention to. And the image gets even fuzzier so you're not exactly sure what you're looking at.
I really wanted to like it. It was a good concept with an interesting, but poorly executed, plot. I don't think I will read another of his books any time soon.
The book was not what I was expecting. It stayed with me well after I had read it, but only because I was left wondering about a lot of things. Nothing was written as though Elphaba was speaking for herself. It could have been more interesting. Some parts dragged.
I read "Confessions" first and I loved it, so I decided to read the best sold of all of Maguire's book to follow and I have to say I was throughly disappointed. Wicked was not my cup of tea. Full of political, and religious points of view and lacking in the magical department. It certainly is not a book to enjoy as a summer reading and leaves a bad taste on what you thought was a fantastic idea- to dwell on the history of the infamous witch. He mentions elements that are never throughly explained (color of skin, aversion to water, unloved son) but leaves the reader looking for answers-not enough of an explanation. It just lacks creativity in the punch line department. Also the dialogue of good and evil is very uninteresting and gives the reader no real sense of purpose. I wouldn't recommend this book. It was not only boring, but forgettable and I think I prefer to stick to the original fairy tale of the Wizard of Oz, at least that was completely and utterly magical.
OMG the 1st chapter dragged on for too long. I found it engaging at times, but overall I felt I had to force myself to finish because I dislike starting a book and not finishing it. I read it because of all the rave reviews for the play, which I haven't seen, and ended up stumped over how they could turn this book into a musical!
Elphaba was an interesting yet likable character. It truly gives the life story of Elphaba from when she was born through to the end. Dorothy and her sidekicks are mentioned on occasion which was neat to remember the movie and see how The Wicked Witch tied in and understanding where she was coming from. Like another reviewer mentioned, there are many political and religious undertones if you don't mind that sort of stuff. Please note that the chapters were often too long.
This book was extremely difficult for me to get through and I am not entirely sure why I stuck it out and read the entire story. I put it down three times to read other books that I consumed quite fast. The author spends a lot of time on detail and is thorough in explanation, but the writing style made it hard for me to become engaged by the story.
This book was a pleasant surprise. I don't like musicals or the Wizard of Oz movie very much, but I was intrigued about the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West. You don't have to be a fan of either to really enjoy this book, although familiarity with the story helps add to the fun of this book. The book makes some good points about faith, religion and our perception of good and evil. Overall a very satisfying read.
If you loved the musical, you may be disappointed by this book as I've been told it is nothing like the musical. However, I have never seen the musical, so approached the book with no preconceived notions. The characters were interesting and quirky, and the setting was fascinating, but the plot moves slowly and didn't integrated the story of Dorothy and the Wizard more as an after thought. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable book.
I really loved this book, and am so glad that the author has chosen to continue the story. He addressed the concept of evil from all perspectives and angles, through smart dialogue and an audience's view of the Witch's life and things that shaped her - outside influences, as well as personal decisions. There were some unanswered questions at the end, and I wasn't completely sure if were supposed to assume the answer, or if they are answered in the next books. I'm only a chapter or two into Son of a Witch as I write this, but am already enjoying it immensely.
This book is a must for fantasy buffs. Throw out all you know about Oz and prepare to delve into a magnificent retelling of a childhood fav. If you expect it to be nice and sweet, it is not. It's an adult version of the Wizard of Oz.
this is a twist on the wizrd of oz story. this is told from the wicked witch side of the story. Showing you how and why she becomes what she is. Almost feel sorry for the wicked witch with the side of the story, because she didn't have an easy life. I almost think if certain things hadn't happened she might have been a good witch too. But of course then we wouldn't have the Wizard of OZ.
The author was hard to follow. He just kept talking about things that did not even matter. Not a quick easy read. The only reason I finished the book was to see his version of the end where the Witch and Dorothy meet. If not for that, I would have stopped reading and not finished it. After you read so much and try to follow all of his blah... blah... blah..., you want to see what happens in the end. It was nice to hear and see about Oz before Dorothy, where the Witch came from and all. I believe it could have been better, with a completely different storyline.
I cannot recommend this book for anything other than burning. I am sorry to even have it listed here. It's a very good thing that I did not spend the $15.00 on this paperback that someone did. I apologize in advance for passing it along through the system.
I'd read and enjoyed Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister, so picked this up too. The beginning was engrossing, but the more I read, the more I had to force myself to continue. After a while it begins to feel too long, too slow and pointless. I did finally finish it, but more because I'm stubborn than because I wanted to.
This book is one of my favorite. It is very political in nature, makes you feel every emotion that is written. Yes, it is a little tough to get through if you aneed to have your books tell you what to think. Very intricately woven tale that has you loving and hating the characters simultaneously.
Glue this book to your hands, you wont regret it!
I had read one of Maguire's earlier books, and really had to trudge through it. It was painful, but I tried to finish it for my book club.
When this one was chosen years later, I was not thrilled; however, I was pleasantly surprised. It was so much better. He has drastically improved. This was a great read, and you really forget it is fiction about a land that never did exist. In discussion, several of us would refer to the story as "back when things were...." And then we'd realize that things never were that way because it was fiction. I say that just to let you know that you totally immerse yourself in it.
If you've read Maguire before and not been impressed, give this one a try. It is refreshing.
This book is not the glossed over MGM version of events. It gives an in depth look at what it was like to be GREEN. All of these books tie together. Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. They prove the fact that there are indeed two sides to every story.
If you have read the original versions of Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz,or the Return to Oz books, you would realize the book version is very dark and one sided. I loved all of these books. I see some of the characters in a new light. Mirror, Mirror explains how the Cowardly Lion became so cowardly. How Glenda is more like Kinsella's Shopaholic than a sugar coated fairy.
Just read the books with an open mind and they are thought provoking.
I continued reading this book, hoping it would get better. It never did. The idea of the story is good, but the telling of it was boring, almost pointless. The Witch seemed powerless and clueless. There was nothing really special about Elphaba. I don't think Elphaba's character very well developed. I was hoping to see her bloom throughout the book into some awesome witch, whom everyone claimed to be wicked. In hindsight, I liked the idea of the Wizard as the bad guy, instead of Elphaba.
I loved the point of view of this book. It was interesting to see this story told complete with back story and how things came to be in Oz. It is very political but only helps to develop the characters into a more adult genre than expected.
It was just OK for me. It did drag on at times, but I tried to perserveer. I unfortunately could not get thru the whole book. Not because I couldn't stand it; it was just too slow for me.
The author definately has a great imagination though.
I had no idea what to expect of this book. It was the most bizarre, intruiging book I have ever read! The imagination of Mr. Maguire knows no bounds. The book was interesting and keep me interested to the end. I can't wait to read "The Ugly Stepsister"!
I HIGHLY ENJOYED READING THIS BOOK. A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT THEY CANT KEEP UP WITH IT AND NEVER FINISH IT. I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN. I THOUGHT IT WAS HILARIOUS. ITS DEFINATLY AIMED AT ADULTS THOUGH. SO MAYBE THATS THE PROBLEM.
OK, I'll admit, I could not finish this book. The language is not easy to read and the story is ver convoluted. I saw the musical while reading this book and laughed as they made it a G version of an R rated book. Be warned, parts of this book are VERY risque. Gave it 2 stars.
Definately one of the best books I've ever read. I fell in love with Elphaba (aka Wicked Witch of the West). It wasn't an easy book to read. I really had to devote time and attention to it to stay on track. But it was soo worth it. You'll never look at the Wizard of Oz the same way again.
I've not read any other books by this author because this one was so difficult to read and I wanted to wait and find out what people thought about his other books before choosing another title to tackle. I will say that I've heard nothing but terrible things about the sequal to Wicked, Son of a Witch.
This book will turn your preconceived notions of who is good and evil upside down. It was thoughtful, dark, and funny all at the same time. If you grew up on the yearly Wizard of Oz movie on TV, you may find yourself enraptured again with this grown-up, "rest of the story" version.
Currently 5/5 Stars.
Arielle S. reviewed Wicked (Wicked Years, Bk 1) on
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Loved this book and since I am a fan of the Wizard of Oz, it really was interesting to see the background of the witches.
What a different view of the wicked witch! I loved this book and pretty much any book that twists the old standard fairy tales. You really feel for the poor thing! From the first page I was hooked...this is a must read!
I must say that I really liked this book. It did drag a bit in places but overall I enjoyed it. Very thought provoking on many different levels. I was disappointed with the ending even though that is the way the story goes. I felt the author could have done a better job of it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is open to new ideas and is not easily shocked.
I ran out and bought this book after having seen the stage show in Atlanta, and to be fair to the book, my best friend warned me that the book is much darker than the stage show. The book is, indeed, darker. But, it is also overly complicated and tedious, especially the beginning. I felt that it was almost supposed to be some sort of riddle that the reader should have had the knowledge to decipher. It did get better as it went. There are a lot of more adult themes in this fairytale retelling. Teenagers who like the stage should probably are too young to read this one. Overall, I was disappointed, but that's just a personal opinion.
This is really a quirky story that flips the Wizard of Oz story on its head... I wanted to read it before I went to see the musical Wicked, although I understand it is pretty different from this book. All about the Wicked Witch of the West... birth to death. She isn't really as wicked as she appears... just unappreciated by her family, tormented by injustice, conflicted in love, and searching for meaning (aren't we all?!?). I liked it and recommend it. I agree with others who have reviewed it here who say the story moved slowly in parts... this is true, but all in all it is interesting and worth the read.
I think it is over written. I was hoping for a book that would bring you back to the fascination of the original characters and Land of Oz, give some depth into the Wicked Witch and yes make you see a different side to her. But you have to read through so much political and religious views that there were many times I was cursing the author and wishing I never picked up the book. I don't know that I will read another book by this author. They take way too long to get into and then have you struggling to hold on and finish the book.
You do however come away with a new view of the wicked witch and it's one that she isn't wicked at all.
I do still want to see the musical and would hope that the time constraint would not allow for the story to be dragged out as horribly as it was in this book.
All in all, this was a very interesting story on perspective and how things aren't always as they seem or as we believe them to be. It did drag in spots, but I am curious to read the other 2 books in the series. I think the author did a wonderful job of fleshing out Oz as a possible place rather than making it too good to be real (the characters have flaws, for instance, even those who are the "good guys"). He presents the "Wicked Witch of the West" as a sympathetic character without making her a "goodie-goodie."
I really liked this book. The alternate story of the wicked witch gives a new perspective on the Wizard Of Oz. I have since read other books by Maguire. And I think out of all of them this one here is this best.
From Publishers Weekly
Born with green skin and huge teeth, like a dragon, the free-spirited Elphaba grows up to be an anti-totalitarian agitator, an animal-rights activist, a nun, then a nurse who tends the dying and, ultimately, the headstrong Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz. Maguire's strange and imaginative postmodernist fable uses L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a springboard to create a tense realm inhabited by humans, talking animals (a rhino librarian, a goat physician), Munchkinlanders, dwarves and various tribes. The Wizard of Oz, emperor of this dystopian dictatorship, promotes Industrial Modern architecture and restricts animals' right to freedom of travel; his holy book is an ancient manuscript of magic that was clairvoyantly located by Madam Blavatsky 40 years earlier. Much of the narrative concerns Elphaba's troubled youth (she is raised by a giddy alcoholic mother and a hermitlike minister father who transmits to her his habits of loathing and self-hatred) and with her student years. Dorothy appears only near novel's end, as her house crash-lands on Elphaba's sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, in an accident that sets Elphaba on the trail of the girl from Kansasas well as the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Lion and her fabulous new shoes. Maguire combines puckish humor and bracing pessimism in this fantastical meditation on good and evil, God and free will, which should, despite being far removed in spirit from the Baum books, captivate devotees of fantasy.
If you're a fan of The Wizard of Oz, you will probably be thoroughly amused by this book. It's a cute retelling of the story of Oz from the wicked witch of the west's point of view, from the time she was a green, sharp-toothed baby. Adventure, intrigue, and (gasp!) even witch sex. I thought it was awfully cute and clever. Well done.
I purchased this book when it was first released in paperback, I attempted to read it then, became bored and placed it on a bookshelf to try at a later time. Three or Four years later I tried again. I am VERY pleased that I did. This book was fantastic! It provided such an insight into the life of the Wicked Witch of the West that even though it is entirely fiction you begin to think differently about the book and movie, "The Wizard of Oz". Simply fantastic!
One of the best books i've read in a very long time. Captivating and a great read! I couldn't wait to read the sequel, son of a witch. This book totally changed my perspective on the movie the wizard of Oz. I recommend it to all my friends and family!
An interesting, sort of philosophical look at evil and its various guises. An overly-rosy viewpoint of kindheartedness is assaigned to the wicked witch of the west, but it is a look at who writes history and how it is shaded. I found Oz more believable in this story than in the original cultural myth...
This is my second favorite Maguire book (right behind Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister); I loved how the Wicked Witch of the West grew up and had a heart for animal rights. The tale was intreguing and kept a good pace with lots of unexpected turns for me. Maguire's imagination was fantastic in this one.
Didn't know if I would enjoy this as I'm not a big sci-fi/fantasy fan, but I loved the Wizard of Oz and the concept of the story was interesting. His introductions of side characters (the future Tinman) were subtle, and I ended up enjoying this book. I will definitely read his other stories!
wonderfully creative... interesting creating an entire back story of the wicked witch's childhood and upbringing... not my cup of tea exactly; but very worth the read... the first 30 pages are a slow start - but it picks up...
The reviews on the back of the book includes "Save a place on the shelf between Alice and The Hobbit - that spot is well deserved." I have to disagree. While I enjoyed the book, it was very dark.. and fairly adult in nature.
Reviews on the book and the idea of The Wicked Witch of the West can easily lead someone to believe that this would be a fun book for younger readers.. perhaps something to read to the kids.. an extension of an all-time children's classic. WRONG. This is NOT for the children.
It was ok, but it was not really my cup of tea. I am glad that I read it, especially since it's gotten so much attention recently. But I don't think it is a book I would read again, and it did not inspire me to check out any of his other fairy-tale based books. Worth reading, but only once.
I adore fantasy, but before I even got to page 15, I had been introduced to topics that were not acceptable to me as a Christian. I decided to put it down rather than fill my mind with more. I may be offended more easily than most, but I couldn't justify reading what may have been great fiction if it meant sacrificing mental purity that I work very hard to maintain. Maybe I already read the worst and it would be nothing after that--but I decided not to risk it. There are other things just as wonderful that I can spend my time reading.
Ok, ok. I know I'm going to get flamed on this one, but I just can not get into this story whatsoeve. It's really strange since these types of stories are right down my alley. Everyone I know has read and praised this book to no end. I'm sorry guys, I just can't get into Maguire's writing style. It felt like he was trying too hard to be clever. Don't listen to me though; everyone else seems to love it.
If you have seen the musical, then this book will be a disappointment, since the book is NOTHING like the play. It is sometimes challenging to read, but it offers a very unique perspective into the lives of the characters of the "Wizard of Oz" series by Frank Baum. I liked the book, but I know of several people who saw the musical and then read the book and were very disappointed.
My mother loved the musical and looked forward to reading the book (she, like me, is an avid reader, and generally prefers the book to movies and plays) and then hated it and passed the book onto me. I actually liked the book, but also read it knowing that it was very different from the musical that I really liked.
I did end up skipping several paragraphs because the language of the book was long-winded and convoluted, but I was interested in the "other side of the story" that this novel offered. I grew up adoring the Land of Oz that Dorothy traveled to and it was fun to visit this land again, but from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. I almsot liked this version better, since it was so sickly sweet as Dorothy tended to be.
I am looking forward to reading "Son of the Witch," so if anyone has that one -- post it!
I raved about this book to everyone I met for the first hundred pages or so. After that, I realized my attention span was waning. The characters are so hard to keep straight and the story seemed to drone on forever. Despite my waning interest, I really wanted to finish the book before I saw the Broadway show. Alas, it didn't happen. I realize that life wasn't over and that I enjoyed the play without having finished the book.
The idea is phenomenal. How creative. The execution and the actual story, however, is one I could not get into.
To me Wicked was fabulous. The musical version sucked out loud! The book is NOTHING like the musical, it's so much darker and deeper. If you've ever felt like the little weird green girl, this is a book for you.
I simply didn't like it. No fault of the book; just not my style. I had seen the play Wicked, and somehow had the delusion that the play was based at least loosely on the book -- even though everyone I knew who had read it told me it wouldn't be.
I tried to read this book a few years back and I couldnít get through it. I found the excessive use of vulgar language to be a distraction and it didnít add anything to the characters or the story. That being said the idea is very clever and original. If you are a fan of the musical, be aware that the two are nothing alike.
I want to start off by saying THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT THE MUSICAL. Although they do have some of the same plot, and obviously same characters, the musical was only inspired by this book. The characters in the musical were written specifically for the musical, and they are a few major key differences between the two. That being said, I very much enjoyed this book.
I won this book in a charity raffle, and instantly fell in love with the characters. It tells the story of the wicked witch, and how she became wicked. She was once just a little girl, who just happened to be green. She grew up with Glinda as a roommate in school. This is a book I recommend, but I do so with the thought that you must keep an open mind about the book. It is also the perfect story for those who feel outcast in school/life.
Interesting take on an old story. It was a little hard to read but it made you think about things from the other side. I would recommend this book to any one who likes to thing about what could have been.
A good and imaginative story in theory. However, as much as I tried to get into the book, the archaic and very formal language, all the politics, and so much boring detail to get into the story, that I couldn't even finish it. I saw many reviews that say the book gets better when Dorothy arrives in Oz, but I didn't have the patience nor the time to get through to that point. Maybe I missed a good ending, and I'll try again some other time, but for now, this book was disappointing.
I really did love this book. I couldnt seem to be able to put it down. After reading this book, no one will ever be able to watch the wizard of oz without seeing it as some twisted cover up. I recommend it to all my friends.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Loved the completely original take on The Wizard of Oz. It purports to be the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West. It is harsh and sympathetic all at once. Gregory Maguire has a wonderful, sly, funny, ironic and highly entertaining view of the story we all thought we knew so well.
I loved it. I didn't think I would, even as I began reading it, but as I read liked the fact that the characters who we met in The Wizard of Oz are totally different, but at the same time there are many references to the more familiar story - where did the Ruby Slippers come from, why was the Lion cowardly, where the monkey got their wings....all very cleverly woven into this tale! In my mind, I like to keep the original story and this one separate, though - things are much more clear cut in the original, while this book blurs the lines between good and evil.
This is an astounding book! The writing is both jarring and lyrical and the fully-fleshed characters whip us through a world where no one can really agree on the definition of evil... Not even the reader.
I love the twist that the author provided on the wizard of oz and the focus on the Wicked Witch and how she became her wicked self. A great examination of how there is no clear line between good and evil.
Sometimes I wonder what exactly makes a bestseller a best seller. I found myself having trouble finishing this book. In fact I rarely do this, but I am not finishing this book! It is ridiculously boring.
This book is incredibly boring. I couldn't even get halfway through it before I'd had enough. Far, far too wordy. I forced myself to read even that far hoping that something, anything, would happen but nothing ever did. I'm glad to be rid of this book but sorry someone else had to waste a credit on it.
I loved the concept of this book, and it started off with so much promise, but seemed to lose focus shortly thereafter. The style of writing, and even some of the characters, was inconsistent.
I don't know if the author thought it would make it "edgier" or something, but the insertion of a couple of back-to-back F-bombs midway through felt completely out of place and shattered any illusions I had of being in the land of Oz. Not that I'm a prude, they just didn't fit in with any of the conversations and mannerisms used throughout the book.
Large gaps (years!) in time happen between several chapters, but it wasn't always clear. The author expects us to make the leap, and I did, but it wasn't a smooth transition. It just felt like a lazy way to squeeze in as many stories as possible within the book.
I absolutely love the idea of the Wicked Witch of the West simply being 'misunderstood' and was really looking forward to this one. Ultimately I was a bit disappointed. The characters redefined were well written, but the plot lagged and couldn't hold my interest. I found myself putting it down frequently - though I did end up finishing it eventually.
I usually am not a fan of stage/film adaptions - but in this case I enjoyed the musical much more than the book.
This is the story of a woman born with green skin whose life is driven by that color. She is last in the eyes of her beloved father and seems to fail at many things that she attempts. Elphaba is intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful but life directs her into becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. She attends a school to be educated but when her favorite professor is murdered (a political act) she leaves the school disillusioned and unhappy, leaving several good friends and a sister behind. Elphie becomes a revolutionist and during that period falls deeply in love with a former schoolmate. She and her lover find happiness together but when he is killed as a result of her revolutionary actions, she temporarily loses her mind. Slowly, she recovers in a convent. When she leaves it, she is accompanied by a small boy, Liir, and she doesn't really know why. The reader discovers when Elphie does that Liir is her son born of the great love of her life. Life gets rather complicated when Elphie decide that she must seek forgiveness from her lover's wife. The story is heart rending and depressing at times but life sometimes hands good people raw deals. So it is with Elphie. I find the author's tie-in with Dorothy and her friends a bit contrived. Nevertheless, I'm glad I read this book.
Having read the story of Oz as a child I couldn't help but wonder about the side of the tale not being told. Then along comes Gregory Maguire and fills in the blanks. The story of Elphaba aka the Wicked Witch of the West is well written; at times moving but alternately funny. Maguire makes the reader truly think about the nature of 'evil' as well as the damage of gossip. Once you pick up this book you won't be able to put it down until you've read every page, and by the time you are done the opinions you held of the original story by L. Frank Baum may well change. Happy Reading :)
Currently 4/5 Stars.
Barbara S. reviewed Wicked (Wicked Years, Bk 1) on
Really interesting! Would love to see the theater production one day.
What a fascinating book. I had expected Wicked to be a lot less adult than it wound up being, but this was a good thing. The themes it presents and discusses turned out to be a lot deeper than those I had expected to find. In a lot of ways, the plight of Elphaba is a akin to the plight of many adults of the world as it exists today --- plagued not by mistakes, but by things that just didn't really work out the way they were supposed to. I felt myself drawn very very strongly toward Elphaba; she struggles with life in a way that seems surprisingly close to my own struggles. Who knew that I could identify with the Wicked Witch of the West!
One of the book's great strengths is also one of its downfalls, though... The myths of Oz are woven in excellently at the beginning of the book, but by the end, when the confrontation with Dorothy is finally happening, events feel forced and false. This is because Maguire is much more constrained in his presentation at the end, where he has to follow Baum's sequence of events with much more precision, and the rationale for the Witch's actions are really stretched to the breaking point.
Very enjoyable, and definitely worth reading. Not for elementary school kids, though! 4/5 stars.
This is a great book! I read it before I saw the musical, and no, it's not really like the musical. This book is more graphic and not so happy-go-lucky. It's a great book though, give it a chance! Just don't expect it to be exactly like the musical.
I thought this was a great book. I always thought the the "Wicked" witch of the west was this horrible person by the way the movie portrayed her. The book shows that she wasn't really wicked at all. She was just misunderstood. People assumed she was wicked as soon as they met her just because of her green skin. If I had to grow up the way she did I would have probably turned out the same. It's crazy that her mother used to always hope that she would drown. What kind of mother does that?? Elphaba was a great character in this book. Dorothy seemed like a little goodie too shoes. It's too bad that Dorothy wouldn't have melted from Elphaba throwing water on her. :) Great read!!
I really enjoyed this book. It was slow at first, but once the characters started developing, I really got into it. Its a really interesting twist on the original Oz story. Anyone who has read the original, or seen the movie, will surely enjoy this.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is definitely not a book for children, it is very provocative at times, but rather an adult character study. I think of the original story as events seen from the point of view of a child not privy to the land's history. Wicked sees them from the point of view of adults, who have lived their whole lives in Oz.
It is not an easy read. There were times when names and situations were a bit daunting. The story is fascinating however and I recommend the book.
I personally LOVED this book. It was an excellent read, and I loved how so much stayed the same, and yet so many other things we saw through different eyes. The witch doesn't seem like the kind of character you'll become attached to, but I surely did! Definitely worth the time in my opinion.
This book took me a little bit to get through. A very different look at a classic tale. It was a good story, just a little more difficult to get through. The author's style is different from most of my preferred readings.
I CAN SAY THAT I NEVER KNEW THIS MUCH ABOUT THE "POLITICS" OF OZ. IT WAS AN INTERESTING READ. IT TAKES SOME CONCENTRATION- BUT IN THE END YOU CAN SAY- "YES- I HAVE BEEN TO THE WORLD OF OZ AND SURVIVED." I FOUND MYSELF FEELING SORRY FOR THE WITCH- READ AND SEE WHY!!! :}
The back cover of the book states, "Save a place on the shelf between Alice and the Hobbit..." I would have to disagree. This is not the fairy tale that I had imagined, although I did like the tie-ins with the Wizard of Oz. This is a rather dark story and is definitely an adult book. At times I found it hard to follow. I am glad I read it since I plan to see the musical but I don't plan to read the sequel.
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny, Glinda's snobbish friends and the wide-eyed, soft-spoken Dorothy make this excursion to Oz worthwhile.
Nothing like the Broadway musical - no happy ending here - very strange book, which I did enjoy, but full of philosophical ramblings about the nature of good and evil - have never really read anything else like it -
The story of the wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West. It was unlike what I was expecting - with truly rounded characters and a complicated, intricate literary universe. Not quite light reading, but definitely easy-to-read, I highly recommend.
I really liked this book. 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?
when I was a little girl I absolutely loved the Oz books. I still do...however I am not sure Frank L. Baum would like this book. I tried and I didn't. I think I would just like to keep the memories like they were and not mess them up with this book.
Great, great book. The story is a really great twist on the traditional Wizard of OZ and Maguire does a wonderful job of making such one dimensional characters (good which, and other Oz figures) look like people- and not the ones you thought you knew! The only down side to this book is that he goes a little overboard fleshing out the politics of the land...a little boring at those parts.
An interesting twist on the typical story that everyone knows, about Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West. However, we see that Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) is neither as wicked nor as witchy as the one in E. L. Baum's tale. Instead, she has vulnerabilities and heartaches, and must survive against a prejudiced, cold world.
This is an excellent take on what may have made the Wicked Witch of the West so wicked. The author does a great job of weaving a story that leads up to the famous turn of events in The Wizard of Oz. An interesting look at nature vs. nurture and society's role in development. Very entertaining, funny at times and well worth the time to read it.
I'm a real fan of fantasy and I love the Wizard of Oz. WICKED tells the story of the Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective. I think I was expecting something whimsical. WICKED isn't. With this title, I don't know why I was surprised! I didn't particularly like it, probably for this reason, however, I do know people who do. Besides, it's a successful play now, isn't it?
An imaginative, insightful look into the "wicked witch's" side of events in the Land of Oz. It is a kind of a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Although it was a well written book and excellent story, it left me with a sense of depression.
A wonderful and surprising tale of the 'real' story behind Dorothy's adventure! Definitely surprising. Very good. Not intended for children by any means! This was the first of Maguire's books that got me hooked on his style. He takes works from our childhood and then gives an adult look at the "behind the scenes" kind of deal. It's quite a different style and very good writing. I love the idea! Wicked in particular is the story of Elphalba, the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Each of the sequels were excellent but this one was the creme de la' creme of this particular series.
I really, really enjoy the music from the musical adaptation of this book. However, I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I found it a little slow in some parts and things were honestly a bit on the graphic side.
It wasn't worth the $9 I spent on it, but I hope that it goes to someone who enjoys it more than I did!
This book was not what I was expecting- but it was quite intriguing. Definitely a page turner, despite my lack of firmly grasping some underlying theme of social commentary that my mind glimpsed parts of as I read.
The "f word" was thrown in once or twice, but it seemed as though it was just for shock value.
Certainly worth reading and interesting enough to make me want to read more by this author.
2 stars = I liked it but... I don't understand the hype with this book. The story was fanciful and interesting. The writing was awkward and spotty. It's worth reading once if you're interested in the book, but I wouldn't read it again.
Wow, what a weird book. It is very complex...and not consistent with the movie. I wouldn't have finished it except that it was for my book club. A few of us decided that this book might very well be the result of an acid trip. ;) Also, I'm told, the book is completely different from the stage/musical version.
This is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, born a green-skinned girl named Elphaba. She is a smart, prickly & misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good & evil.
Mom wanted me to read this. Otherwise I would have stopped about half way through. I just couldn't get interested after the plot started getting complicated. The first few chapters were gripping. But then there are all of these twists and turns and characters and I just found it all very hard to care about for some reason. I like his childrens books quite a bit. And I do read and like complicated books sometimes, like Infinite Jest. Not macho enough for me maybe? I don't know.
Well, it's got a lot of interesting philosophical points to it, but I'm not in love with it. My cousin was trying to read it and just couldn't get into it. I will admit that if you stick with it, it gains momentum and becomes much better the further you get into it.
I'm only on chapter 4 but I have to say, this is one of those cases when I think the musical (which I want to see but haven't BTW) has to be better than the story it is based off of.
I mean, while the story is meant to be different, and I know elements of the OZ books are dark (I've read pretty much all of the real OZ series, which has much more depth than the movies) I just don't think Wicked stays true to the written 'authors tone' of OZ.
If it was written in a more sort of 'talking to the reader' way I think I would be able to take it more seriously (I thought it was going to be written in 1st person when I bought it as well) but because it is so 'out there' and on top of it doesn't connect with the reader I think it falls flat many times.
I read this because I wanted to know what everyone was talking about. I really didn't enjoy the book. I didn't like his charavters or his writing. Though his idea is a good one, his execution of it was boring. He almost ruined OZ for me.
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baumís 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?
Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy would 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 become 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.
Elphaba (the witch) is not a simple character, and Oz is not a simple, fairy tale land. In Wicked, we get to see the history behind "The Wizard of Oz." Wicked is very much a literary work of art. It is a book of social and political commentary, full of people that remind us of our own acquaintances and packed with situations we find ourselves in--or find ourselves avoiding--all too often.
This is an entertaining story, but it is also a story that makes you think. Highly recommended!
Maguire rewrites the story of The Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz from the sympathetic perspective of the Witch! The history of the Land of Oz that Maguire creates is magical, as are the twists in perspective he gives this new take on an old story: what's bad becomes good, and vice versa. This book has been turned into a successful broadway musical and Maguire has written several other books along the same lines: "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," etc.
From the back of the book: 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 nature of true evil?
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 become 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.
The book had a lot of political and religious concepts that I didn't fully grasp, but it was interesting. It wasn't anything like what I was expecting. I would like to read of Maguire's work, but will probably not buy the books.
I read through the other reviews and was quite surprised by the range of comments. I LOVED this book. It was one of the best books I have ever read. I though about it for months afterward. If you're in the mood for a book where you will learn a few new words, rethink the meaning of 'evil', and ponder it for months, then this is the book to read. That being said, my mother didn't like it.
The story of the Wicked Witch of the West, beginning from the odd birth of the green skinned girl until her death. It is thought provoking and sad, and rife with political maneuvering and social injustice. Worth reading.
A new take on an old tale, Wicked gives a detailed account of the life of a little green-skinned girl named Elphaba who would grow up to be the infamous arch-nemisis of Dorothy Gale. She's not "Wicked," just misunderstood! It is an interesting story, woven around an essay on the nature of evil. Young/Sensitve readers beware - I was surprised by some laguage and racy themes.
Overall an excellent novel. I liked how the author took an existing world (the Land of Oz in this case) and made it his own. If you've ever seen the movie or read any of Baum's Oz books, Wicked shines a very realistic light on Oz. The only bad point ot the book is the ending. It feels as though he was rushed to tie up all the loose ends.
i really enjoyed this book but agree with Marci that the politics was a little too drawn out. i loved the school years with the 2 main charachters and cannot understand how they made this dark novel into this wonderfuly popular Broadway musical