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Showing 1-10 of 984 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,810 reviews
on July 16, 2016
Wicked does a lot more than just tell The Wizard of Oz from the Witch's point of view (which is probably a good thing, since that book would have read something along the lines of "Chapter 20: More Exciting Times With Those Creepy Flying Monkeys"). Wicked actually flips Oz on its head and, in a lot of places, departs entirely from Baum's novel and the 1939 movie. In Wicked, the Witch is misunderstood, the Witch of the East is a religious zealot, Munchkins are prone to mob violence and bigotry, the Wizard is a dictator, and animals can talk.

For the Wizard of Oz fans and non-fans alike this is an amazing read!
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on August 30, 2016
Among the best books I have ever read. A discussion of good and evil in an alternate but not completely unfamiliar universe, the story is complex, many-layered and very funny. It touches on both the value and the absurdity of families, communities, and politics. The conversation at the dinner table in Elphaba's former school of Shiz after the "murder" of Madame Morrible is worth the attention of those interested in philosophy and theology. Gregory Maguire's writing is superb throughout. I will read it many times, I think, just for this kind of fun :"Were you waving your wand where it wasn't wanted?"
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on November 23, 2015
I was introduced to the music of the Broadway musical Wicked not that long ago, and was immediately intrigued with the idea of the Wicked Witch of the West not being as evil as she was made out to be in The Wizard of Oz. What if it was the Wizard who was the evil one? The idea of turning such a revered story on its head was too much to resist, and I was pleasantly surprised when my friend starbreiz sent me some items from my Amazon wishlist, including Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

::: There Is Always More to the Story :::

Gregory Maguire's first novel turned one of the most established legends of our time on its ear with its premise: what if the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz wasn't so wicked after all, but was actually viewed that way based only on perception? The story surrounds the life of Elphaba, the daughter of a minister and a woman who wasn't the most faithful minister's wife ever. Her unfortunate tale begins with her birth, when she is born with green skin, teeth so sharp she bites her own skin, and an aversion to water. Her mother turns to herbal drugs, and her missionary father believes that Elphaba's condition is somehow his fault. The only stable figure is really Elphaba's mother's former nanny, who comes to take care of the little green girl.

Elphaba's childhood is defined by her father's missionary work in Quadling country, the poorest section of Oz, and a far cry from the upper class of Munchinland to which her mother was born.

Maguire picks up the story when Elphaba is older, and a new student at Shiz, the university of Oz. The university is divided into all-male and all-female colleges, and Elphaba ends up rooming with the very snobby Galinda, much to Galinda's dismay. Elphaba quickly becomes suspicious of the headmistress, Madame Morrible, and after an Animal (the walking, talking, intelligent versions, much like the Cowardly Lion) professor dies under mysterious circumstances, Elphaba finagles an audience with the Wizard for herself and Galinda, where she quickly realizes that the Wizard is not the paternalistic ruler he was believed to be.

Elphaba sends Galinda back to Shiz and begins a life of resistance, first on behalf of the Animals, then with a life in a convent (or mauntery, as they call it), and finally ends up in the land of the Vinkus, where she creates her famed winged monkeys, begins to dabble in sorcery, and her story intersects with the story of Dorothy that we all grew up with.

::: Politics, Social Classes, Despots... Just Like Real Life :::

Trying to sum up the various plots in Wicked is impossible, and I feel impotent even attempting it. Maguire has created an incredible character and the book will leave you unable to watch the movie the same way again. Not only has he created a rich and sympathetic character in Elphaba, but he has also created a world that seems so real that every time I had to put the book down to do something else I felt as if I was being jolted from one world to another.

While at times it might seem as if Maguire is leaving too much out, jumping as he does from one period in Elphaba's life to another, he has chosen the most significant points to focus on; each set of experiences is one that would have shaped the woman who became known as the Wicked Witch of the West.

The hardest part of reading Wicked is knowing how it is going to end. From the start, you know that Elphaba is doomed; that she will die at Dorothy's hand, and nothing will change that. Still, even knowing this, you find yourself hoping against hope that Maguire will change the story and find a loophole for Elphaba, that she won't truly die, but live on, fighting the corrupt Wizard and everything he has created.

::: This Isn't Broadway :::

For those introduced to the softer side of Elphaba through the Broadway show of the same name, the novel will probably be a huge surprise. "Based on" is the operative phrase in the description of the musical, which has a far simpler plot than the novel. It would have been impossible to condense all the political intrigue and vast cast of characters in the novel into a musical, and many of the plot devices were oversimplified, including the love affair between Elphaba and Fiyero. The Boq of the novel is, in fact, a Munchinlander who had a crush on Galinda/Glinda, but he plays a far more important role in helping Elphaba in her research for Doctor Dillamond, and later, in helping Dorothy. While I love the show, the book has a much greater depth than the musical, and requires more of the reader than the audience member.

Wicked is one of the best novels I've read in a long, long time. I find myself reading it over again, still hoping that Elphaba can be saved, and still getting lost in the world of Oz as Maguire sees it. This is a book not to be missed, and I guarantee that you'll never view blue gingham and ruby slippers the same way again.
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I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn't finish it. At the 42% mark I decided it was taking too much effort to pretend to like it and trudge through to the end.
Excessive
, irrelevant detail, slow moving plot, and dark, political subject matter all contributed to my decision. There is enough political dissent in the country today. I don't need to slog through it during my nightly escape reading as well.
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on July 5, 2016
i finished it. mostly because i kept hoping for some character development or resolution... even though i began to doubt that the material was ever going to wake up from the murky green-glass lethargy that settled on everyone's spirit from the very beginning. Elphaba almost broke free. But then when heartbreak threw her back into a haze so deep she didn't know her own body - we never quite saw that rich fighter spirit again. her character was squashed to blend in with her flat surroundings - with any fight or transition occurring completely off-stage where the reader has to fill in the blanks or just give up on sympathizing with her development.
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on May 9, 2017
Even before it got so popular in the Philippines, I've been fascinated by stories which show the other side of the tale so when I reas the plot etc, I ordered Gregory Maguire's Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, and Lost. (I got the Lion Among Men and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister later). They were hardbound and were among my most priceless possessions. But termites infested that side of our condo. And before we moved, I was extremely grieved to see that the termite had such expensive tastes! It ate all my Gregory Maguires which I got from Amazon US and none of my softbound books! I was so sad and disappointed but couldnt do anything about it.
So when hubby got me my Kindle, I immediately bought the Wicked book for it. It isn't the same as holding the actual book and rifling the pages but the story iz still as great as it was. Am thinking of rebuying the books over Amazon actually. Just hope the shipping and taxes don't kill me! Lol
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on October 3, 2016
Enjoyed reading this book. I have never seen the entire Wizard of Oz movie so it was interesting to have a new viewpoint for the characters. I never knew who the witch was tha was crushed by the house and had her shoes stolen. I always liked the Wicked Witch of the West and now I like her even more!
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on November 10, 2013
Maguire explores human nature and how we are shaped by our environment, and the question of what truely makes someone wicked. He does this in the land of Oz, painting a vivid picture of its different cultures, social structures and geographies.
I was enthralled from the start with the story of Elphaba's parents and the backwater they lived in where Elphaba's father Frex could follow his calling of missionary zealotry. How her mother Melana ran from the falsness of a luxurious high society life to be with Frex, but didn't find any more value in a landscape of isolation and ignorance, and the vices she turned to make her situation bearable.
Elphaba's university days in Shiz were equally fascinating. I loved the effect she had on empty headed Glinda - who illustrated how someone can be thoughtllessly shallow, simply through a lack of ever having a different perspective to consider, or being asked to consider difficult questions.
I loved Elphaba's strength, her insistence on questioning the status quo as the power brokers of the day systematically marginalised Animals in society. This theme was Maguire's way of exploring how Jews in Nazi Germany were oppressed; a way to see how great wrongs can occur while ordinary people just go about their everyday lives. Elphaba choses the moral high ground, and Maguire shows just how much courage and strength is required to do this when everyone around you just wants an easy life.
I note from reviews I have read that this series of books tends to polarise people - they either love or hate them. Given Elphaba's preordained fate, the narrative loses hope as it progresses. Characters make flawed choices and bad things happen to good people - as in life. Some folk don't like that in their fiction. Personally, I think this is one of the most compelling and illuminating commentaries on human nature I have read in a long while.
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on October 13, 2013
I'm not sure how anyone who has seen the Wizard of Oz, loved the movie and idea behind it, and then went on to read this book can say that it isn't good. Wicked is a fascinating story which shows the story of Oz from a completely different perspective, and after you read the book, you are sure to think that Gregory Maguire is a genius for thinking of the things that he did in this book. As you see all the different ways that the story is tied to the original story of the Wizard of Oz, you will be amazed and enchanted.

But it's a hard book to read. The reason is that the character names and terminology used is confusing. Some of the language in the book is 'Oz-ian', which means it isn't words at all, but some language you have never heard of. And there are so many characters in this book that it's often hard to keep up. It's also a long book, and you may find yourself feeling that it could have been shorter. But when you get to the end, you won't care how long it is, because it just ends so greatly.

The story follows the journey of Elphaba, who will become the Wicked Witch of the West, as she grows, goes to school, and eventually transforms from an outcast to the full blown witch that she winds up becoming near the end of the story. During the book, we also meet Glinda, the good witch, and Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East. The book also shows how the story of Dorothy is integrated into the story of Elphaba, and the integration is sheer genius.

If you are interested in reading this book, I would recommend seeing the musical (if possible) as it will prep you for a lot of the events of the book. If you are unable to do so, then read slow, re-read if necessary, and think about what you are reading carefully as you go through the book. If you try to rush through this one, you will not get much out of it. But if you take your time and savor the writing of Gregory Maguire, you will enjoy Wicked as much as you did the Wizard of Oz.
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on May 13, 2017
I decided to finally read this to find out what the hoopla is about. I found it a slog: slow-moving, full of uninteresting characters and pointless pseudo-philosophies. A lot of people seem to love this story, which is now a series of books, a musical, and an upcoming film.

Its very thin charms escape me, I fear. None of the characters were likable, and I wouldn't want to spend ten minutes with them, let alone the hours it takes to read this book. Deleting this from my Kindle with relief.
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