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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Paperback – Illustrated, November 28, 2000


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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West + Son of a Witch: A Novel (Wicked Years) + Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years
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Product Details

  • Series: Wicked Years (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060987103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060987107
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,372 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, has gotten a bum rap. Her mother is embarrassed and repulsed by her bright-green baby with shark's teeth and an aversion to water. At college, the coed experiences disapproval and rejection by her roommate, Glinda, a silly girl interested only in clothes, money, and popularity. Elphaba is a serious and inquisitive student. When she learns that the Wizard of Oz is politically corrupt and causing economic ruin, Elphaba finds a sense of purpose to her life?to stop him and to restore harmony and prosperity to the land. A Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and an unknown species called a "Dorothy" appear in very small roles... The story presents Elphaba in a sympathetic and empathetic manner-readers will want her to triumph! The conclusion, however, is the same as L. Frank Baum's. The book has both idealism and cynicism in its discussion of social, religious, educational, and political issues present in Oz, and, more pointedly, present in our day and time. The idealism is whimsical and engaging; the cynicism is biting. Sometimes the earthy language seems appropriate and adds to the sense of place; sometimes the four-letter words and sexual explicitness distract from the charm of the tale. The multiple threads to the plot proceed unevenly, so that the pace of the story jumps rather than moves steadily forward. Wicked is not an easy rereading of The Wizard of Oz. It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy.?Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

A good book has both plot and character development.
beththatreads
Evil in Wicked seems to mean that villains are people too with real feelings, which is not a huge revelation to me.
Michelle
This is an incredible story about the life of the wicked witch of the west, very interesting.
"jessy1206"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

848 of 940 people found the following review helpful By Growllingbear on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you can find a better bang for the buck than Wicked, please let me know. I picked up Wicked, knowing nothing except that its subject matter was the Wicked Witch of the West, to be drawn immediately into Maguire's splendidly imagined world of sentient animals, multiple societies, and unique physical laws. Wicked is an enthralling, great read, hugely entertaining. On top of all this, Maguire has Bradbury's gift for creating atmosphere. The pages are heavy with dark, mysterious magic; its moral laws are ultimately incomprehensible.
Apparently doomed at conception, Elphaba is a truly terrifying infant. Razor-toothed and preternaturally intelligent, she is shunned from birth as a freak and a curse. She is nonetheless the tale's most complex, human, and compelling character, possessed of high moral sense and great courage. But neither of these qualities enables a single one of her brave, ethical actions to succeed. What are we to conclude from this?
How is it that Dorothy, the sturdy little nobody from nowhere who committed manslaughter as she landed in Oz, skips down the Yellow Brick Road impervious to danger while Elphaba strives and plots to reap only negative results?
Why is one protected while the other is doomed? Read Wicked and you will learn how the witch's monkeys became winged, where the rubies for those slippers came from, and, indeed, why the witch's skin was green. But you will wrestle, long afterward, with Maguire's moral pessimism and the snarl of grace and doom that underlies this novel. I know I will.
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190 of 223 people found the following review helpful By Omeed Dariani on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sorry for the inelegant title. I sat here for a little while... trying to come up with something clever, but nothing captured the scope of my feelings about this book quite as well as that.

I found Wicked to be one of the weakest novels I have ever read and would strongly discourage you from picking it up. I'm not actually in the business of reviewing literature, but I have been astounded by the critical acclaim for this book, despite its incredible lack of depth and character.

Wicked starts from a safe premise: take a well-loved story and write a story within it. Tom Stoppard has made a career out of this, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead being a prime example. However, Maguire fumbles this by diverging from the source material at almost every contact point. His vision of Oz is pallid and mostly uninteresting. The development of Oz's religions, local customs, and such are limited in scope and generally not fresh. Unlike the world of Harry Potter, where the little touches make you curious for more, I felt very much that Maguire was crassly trying to flesh out the world of Oz simply to create storytelling space for future stories.

The characters are defiantly flat and frequently step out of their own characterizations to do things that are pointless and, often, absolutely baffling. Elfaba, a character who refused to carry out an assassination in the presence of a group of children, randomly, and spitefully, attempts to kick a well-meaning child in the back. Sarima, a widow whose husband disappeared under mysterious circumstances, is not at all interested in discovering the truth about her husband... even with the truth knocks on her door and BEGS her to listen.
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199 of 235 people found the following review helpful By Kneel on September 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
(Note: I agree completely with Bruce Aguilar's review below.)

I was excited to read this book; I expected a great read.

Wicked relies on a gimmick. Though the result could be worthwhile, and I expected it would be in this case, it's not. There's just the gimmick.

Wicked is too long by at least a hundred pages - though the story could easily have been told and done, and the reader is feeling done with it, we're still left slogging along.

Just as the story is building to what turns out to be the (aborted) climax, halfway through, the author suddenly, jarringly, shoves the protagonist into a convent (though she's a complete non-believer), and then has her do absolutely nothing for the next several years (well, she cleans some floors or something).

Though we're still left a couple hundred more pages to wade through, the book is over right there. You keep hoping, expecting, it to somehow start up again, but neither the book nor the characters will every have any interest in anything again. It's over.

The story has, at that point, somehow become a political thriller (Wicked zigzags all about without ever finding an identity). Perhaps the deadness of spirit in a once-impassioned radical, after she's lost faith and/or hope, would have been a worthwhile exploration.

Instead, the story just ends. For some reason, the author keeps writing more pages. For no reason, really.

(The Nature of Evil theme is so incredibly weak and puerile in its rendering as to be nothing more than a tedious distraction from the plot. The characters basically step outside the story for a bit, discuss it, and then go back to whatever they were doing.
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