25 January 2015

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Author: Gregory Maguire
Genre: Fiction
Published: 1995

What you should know: This book is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz (Frank L. Baum), written by a different author about a century later. Basically it is a long, thorough and very well written fanfic. Readers might be familiar with the Broadway musical adaptation, Wicked. I was inspired to read the book after recently seeing the play.

Brief Overview: The novel follows the story of Elphaba aka the Wicked Witch of the West, throughout her life. Life is difficult from the start when she is born green and continues along a troublesome trajectory as she goes to college, then is forced into hiding . The story of Elphaba 's life and rebellion is set against a backdrop of political unrest in Oz. The book includes the introduction of the familiar Wizard of Oz characters such as Glinda and Dorothy, although their roles and motives unfold differently than we might remember.

Impressions: If you have seen the play, you will recognize parts of the novel of course, but I was surprised by the differences. Where much of the musical is light and funny, the book is a bit more serious. The book was a good read, though by no means short. The author can be very wordy -possibly descriptive to a fault, though to be fair, the book was rarely dull. It also covers a lengthy time span and various political changes in Oz, which could be a bit hard to keep straight.At times I felt like I was missing some of the puzzle pieces as the years skipped ahead.
Topics explored include political rebellion, prejudice, the nature of good and evil and a myriad of others to wrap your head around. As I mentioned, not exactly the light read I expected. Despite my expectations I found I was sucked in to the world of Oz that the author so thoroughly built for us (or perhaps more accurately, that he remodeled from the original). I rushed through Wicked, and quickly moved on to the next books in the 4 book series.

What to read next: Son of a Witch (Gregory Maguire), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis), The Wizard of Oz (Frank L. Baum

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