Wicked by Gregory Maguire

I saw the musical and adored it. So when I saw that my friend had the book, I just had to borrow it from her.

A story about the Wicked Witch of the West from the classic Wizard of Oz. Actually, I’ve never read the original story, only seen the movie. The story never really interested me before but now I’d like to read it to contrast it to this book.
Anyway, this story looks beyond the happenings of the Wizard of Oz and explores the world that Dorothy stumbled upon. It is rich with the themes of equality and what is evil. The book is good in that it gets you to look beyond a story and see that the “villain” has a story too and isn’t just a 2d baddie.

I expected the book to differ from the musical but I didn’t expect just how different it really was. This story is much darker and coarser.

The world is filled with such richness and depth. Maguire has really fleshed out the land of Oz. The different regions within Oz, with their different cultures and struggles (such as drought in Munchkinland) as well as the differing religions intermingled and the discrimination against Animals.
The intricacy of this world drew me in badly and I could not put the book down (despite the writing style. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is lovely. It’s just not the sort of thing that I normally enjoy reading). Though there were some things in the book that seemed pointless and/or unexplained.
Once the story left Shiz University, I began to lose interest. From that point on the story focused more on Elphaba and was more…isolated? Disconnected? It kind of got dull for me after that, and Elphaba kept annoying me. And after all the detail and setting up the story, the ending was disappointing. It wasn’t like running into a brick wall but it seemed pretty abrupt. Probably didn’t help that Maguire had to work in events from a preexisting book that he didn’t write.

It was a breathe a fresh to not be confronted by Mary Sues but I could not bring myself to like Elphaba. I wanted to like her, I really did. During her years at University, I could not get a grasp of her character and personality (perhaps my own failing?). I think I got a good enough grasp of her character afterwards, but I didn’t like it. She certainly didn’t handle Dorothy well so it was no wonder she got killed (it’s not a spoiler, we already know that it happens in Wizard of Oz). Still, she wasn’t evil. Not what I would call good but not evil either.

Overall, I think I liked the musical better. It was something aimed more towards me (ie. sugarcoated and romantic). But I don’t regret reading the book. 


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