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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) Mass Market Paperback – Print, September 25, 2007
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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.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The book is a richly textured account of the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, here given an actual name, Elphaba, as she moves from student at Shiz University, an outcast and roommate to G(a)linda, to secretive activist in the Emerald City, to maunt (nun), to Auntie Witch, later to become The Wicked Witch of the West.
Throughout, the detailed religion, culture, and government of Oz supplement the narrative beautifully, adding depth to what could have been simply an unfounded story of what could happen to some flatly portrayed green girl from Oz. This story really makes you care for the witch and understand that even the most evil of people could simply be the victims of chance.
I thought the book began and ended very strongly, but the narrative sagged a bit in the middle, particularly as Elphaba becomes a nun and travels rather boringly across the desert to the Winkie stronghold of Kiamo Ko. The story stays rather low-key for a while, but picks up when some more familiar characters, such as Nessarose, Elphaba's sister, Elphaba's father, Frexspar, and Glinda, reenter the novel.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm about 89% finished with it, and I would definitely recommend it for those interested in adult fantasy/fiction. Read morePublished 23 hours ago by Nina R Foster
BOOK ARRIVES AS A PAPERBACK WITH ACTUAL PAGES FALLING OUT - HOW THIS QUALIFIES TO ANYONE AS BEING CORRECT IS BEYOND ME - BUT NEW - DO NOT TRUST GOOD USED WHEN SHOPPING FOR A BOOK ~... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Yøko
One of my all time favorite books. I have easily read this 10+ times and I discover new elements each time. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Sarah Pemberton
Excellent book, however one should re-read "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum before starting this book. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Frog
This book was a struggle for me. Although a friend told me that she "absolutely loved this book", I just couldn't become that enthusiastic. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Patricia
I probably made a mistake with this novel. I have seen and am a huge fan of the musical of which is based, and I would say loosely based, on this story. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Tabitha B.