Wicked by Gregory Maguire

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?

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.

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Ughhhh ahhhh ughhhh ahhh whaaaa ughhh ahhh uh. Those are my thoughts while reading this giant book. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t really expect much, but it still was somehow different than what I wasn’t expecting.

I’ll stop it with the riddles now.

This is the story of Elphaba. That iconic wicked witch of the west in a land called Oz. When I first heard of the musical about a year ago, I was intrigued. Then I learned that its based off of a BOOK?! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Alas, I finally did read it, even if it took me what felt like forever to read.

So, you’re probably expecting a book about why Elphaba is green, why she’s wicked, and why she wants the shoes. Instead, you get a book about Elphaba’s stupid family, people contemplating the difference between animals and Animals, some deaths, and Elphaba going crazy.

Even with all its imperfections, this book is still pretty enjoyable. I loved Gregory Maguire’s writing. In the end, he pulled things together and ended it in a satisfying way that I liked. I don’t even know how to describe it. But it was good.

I thought that the book would have a lot more of Glinda in it, but I was surprised to see Glinda wasn’t in half the book. But I did really connect to Elphaba a lot more than I was expecting. I’m more of a Glinda personality, but I can see parts of Elphaba in me, too.

I enjoyed trying to find where the songs from the musical would fit into the book. I haven’t seen the musical, yet, but I listen to the music often, and I think I’m a bigger fan of the musical than the book.

I agree with lots of the goodreads reviews I read: Maguire was trying way too hard to make this an adult book. There are many unnecessary sexual scenes, foul words, and just overall inappropriateness. So much could have been easily left out, and you’d have the same story. Or at least it could have had less detail. I had heard there as sexual stuff in the book, but I didn’t realize to what extent it goes to. From the very beginning, inappropriateness is prominent. It eases in the last 3/4 of the book, but by then I’m already “scarred” by what I’ve read. This book is not kid-friendly, and I do not recommend it to young teens and under. Even for an older teen like me (I’m 16) , it can be too much. Some skimming may be necessary and probably recommended.

Overall, this was an enjoyable but not great book. I’ll probably skim it in the future, and I will be continuing on with the series eventually (cause I already own the second book).

-Lilian-

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