Books, Music, Movies, Youth Issues, Random Stuff

Book Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

with 8 comments

 From the back cover: When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we only heard 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?

One of the highlights of the book is the complexity of character the Wicked Witch of the West aka Elphaba. She reminded me a lot of the character Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. She is loving toward a select few, and cold toward others.  She is strong with most characters in the book, yet vulnerable to the reader. Her duality made her very real and human. Depending on who the reader is,  it might make a lasting impression.

Another highlight of the book was the story world. While it is based on  L. Frank Baum’s Oz, there are many allusions to  the real world within Maguire’s Oz . For instance, an Animal is an animal that can talk like humans and is discriminated against for wanting to do things like humans do. If the animal can’t talk, it is considered normal. The Animals could be virtually any discriminated group in the real world including Hispanics, blacks, or homosexuals.

One of the shortcomings of the book was the plot. When things were heating up and the story is reaching the climax, it is like the author stopped writing and came back to the book. Due to certain circumstances, Elphaba ends up sitting still somewhere for a time and the plot gets tedious. The only way the reader will keep reading at that point is if they really empathize or sympathize with Elphaba (as the case was with me). Furthermore, when the book moves on to its next section (the book is divided into four sections with its own chapters), it felt like there was something missing, as if certain events could have been drawn out more.

In addition to the plot, this reader did not enjoy the way it was told from various characters’ points of view. The book is supposed to be about Elphaba, the girl who would become the Wicked Witch of the West. Why not just focus on things from her point-of-view? This reader did not care about a classmate named Boq; this reader only cared about Elphaba’s story! If the story had just been told from Elphaba’s point-of-view, then the confusion felt when going from section to section could have been avoided.

If you are a fan of the musical Wicked, then you might know that it is based on this book. If you are a hard-core fan of the musical, do not read this book because you might end up disappointed and bored. However, I do recommend this book for someone who is looking for a good fantasy story. Due to the violence and sexual material, this book is best suited for older teens or adults. Wicked was not great, but it was good.

8 Responses

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  1. Agggh I’ve really wanted to read this book since I saw the theater show! The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favourite movies although I’ve yet to read the set of original books – but I really want to. *sigh* my tbr pile and wishlist is neverending! Lol.


    November 30, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    • I ended up reading this book after clicking on a Wiki link about the musical. And, I ended up clicking on the Wiki page about the musical after looking up a wiki page on one of the actresses Idina Menzel, who also starred in the ONLY Broadway musical I appreciate: RENT. Anyway, somebody showed me a clip of one of the songs from Wicked, and judging from what I saw, the musical has a much happier tone than the book does. If you do read Wicked, I hope you aren’t disappointed by it. Thanks for commenting!


      November 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM

      • Ohh really? That’s interesting. To be honest, I think I would like it a bit darker, the musical was almost a bit too sugary sweet for me!
        I’ve never seen RENT but I’ve heard really good things. 🙂


        December 1, 2012 at 5:46 AM

      • Unfortunately, you and I will probably never get to see RENT live on broadway; the show stopped running four years ago. However, there is still the movie, which features most of the original broadway cast.


        December 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      • No, no, noooo! You’re misinformed, there’s hope! When I went to New York earlier this year it was still on Broadway because several people went to see it, but I went for Phantom instead because I didn’t know anything about RENT at the time. 🙂


        December 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      • Sorry, but that was the off-Broadway production you saw and it closed in September. The original Broadway production closed in 2008. While there is a DVD of the original Broadway production’s final show, I prefer the movie because it has most of cast that was in the show when it first started in 1996 (that is the true original cast). The one that closed in 2008 has all new cast members and I don’t want to get to know new people playing characters I like when I’ve already gotten comfortable with others.


        December 2, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      • Ohh, that would explain why then because I went in February. I never assumed it was the original though. That’s fair enough I guess, I’d never want to go see The Wizard of Oz for example because the film is too perfect.


        December 2, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      • Exactly. Anyway, I hope you enjoy Wicked when you read it. Thanks for all the comments 🙂


        December 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

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