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Showing 1-10 of 115 reviews(3 star, Verified Purchases). See all 2,810 reviews
on July 7, 2016
I tried to like it. This book has really interesting background and I feel like it could have been better
Maybe I expected too much.
I just can't shake the feeling that Gregory Maguire created this elaborate backstory for Elphaba, only to waste it away.
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on January 8, 2014
This cleverly wove a story during which the reader could sympathize with the Wicked Witch of the West. There are numerous profound political and social commentaries throughout. However, much of the political and philosophical conversation is obtusely written and difficult to follow, even for this reader with a philosophy degree. The story was compelling and interesting, but I found the ending unsatisfying in terms of revealing more of the back story. I would not recommend this book to any young audiences (teen or younger) due to previous comments on clarity and the incredibly intense and graphic sexual scenes that would likely fall in most people's description of "depraved" behavior.
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on October 22, 2007
I saw the musical "Wicked" in May 2006, and decided to give "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire a try. *Warning: Spoilers are to follow*

It's difficult to convey my feelings on this book. On one hand, I think the idea of a 'true story' of the life of Elphaba "The Third Eminent" Thropp is intriguing and brilliant, since it provides proof that sometimes there are rational explanations for seemingly irrational circumstances and behaviors. (Why was Elphaba green? Why was Elphaba eventually labeled Public Enemy #1? What was so special about Nessarose's shoes that The Witch wanted them so much?) Of course I knew how the story would end, but at least there was no misunderstanding how and why everything happened the way it did.

On the other hand, there were times when I closed the book for a few days and forced myself to continue because there were so many questions and not enough answers, or the answers were delayed by unimportant happenings. How did Glinda *really* become the 'Good Witch of The North'? (She stayed at Shiz and became a sorceress, but what actually led to her elevated position?) What really happened to Fiyero? (Here's a hint for those who saw the musical: Chances are, he wasn't *The Scarecrow*...he's presumed dead but in fact, we never find out for sure!) If Elphaba truly had an aversion to water (Examples: When she cried, her tears 'burned like fire'; she had no running water in her loft because she 'didn't use it'), then how was she able to drink water-based beverages like tea, ale, and at one point lemon-barley water? (Could she just not touch it?) While some questions were in fact answered adequately, more questions arose and were left to ponder over, and that was frustrating at times. The biggest question, of course, was Liir's background: First, it was strongly hinted at that he's Elphaba's son with Fiyero (she even acknowledges that possibility at one point in the story); later on, we're led to believe that since he looks nothing like Elphaba or Fiyero, he's really some orphan that the maunts stuck Elphaba with to get them both out of their lives forever. At the end of the story, there's yet another 'flip-flop' as we're told that after Elphaba's death, Liir went 'to look for his half-sister Nor' (as in not 'his possible half-sister' but his 'half sister', as if it was the answer we're looking for...but again with no valid explanation). It's a very simple question: Was he or was he not Elphaba's son? If he is, shouldn't his character hold more importance since he is her living legacy? If he's not, what exactly is the importance of his character? We never find out! (I'm in the process of reading the sequel, so I hope this mystery is finally cleared up)

Overall, I suppose the book is worth a read for those who like their fantasies dark, but I feel that I must add this advice: If you have seen the light-and-airy Broadway musical that was (VERY, VERY) loosely based upon this story, you may be disappointed and even bored with the serious tone and bleakness throughout this book; if you haven't, then you may find this book fascinating and enlightening, and find the musical to be silly trash. Another bit of advice: This is NOT a children's book. Despite the all-too-familiar illustration of the two witches on the cover, there is much mature content that should not be read by people under the age of 16 (My 8-year-old niece recognized the cover and wanted to read it, and I had to explain that it was a 'grown-up book'). I say this not because of the sexual content (Although there's no shortage of that) but because of some of the more realistic undertones hinted at throughout the book. (politics, questioning good and evil, etc.) If you decide to read this, take a bit of precaution, and prepare to hear The [Shocking] Other Side of The Story.
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on June 17, 2016
Before reading this book, I could have sworn I had already read it once, a long time ago, but I'm wondering if I only read the first few chapters. I also think I may have somehow conflated it with The Golden Compass, which has similar anti-religious themes.

Having listened to the entire Wicked soundtrack many times and read the Wikipedia summary of the musical (come to think of it, perhaps my perception of the book before reading it for real was actually just from having read the play summary and the list of differences between the book and the musical), the book is worlds different from the musical.

In the end the book was good, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more (and given it four stars) if I hadn't been constantly comparing it in my mind to how I thought the book was going to go. I think perhaps part of my problem was that Elphaba is a lot less likeable of protagonist in the book. Still, I can definitely say that the book gave readers a fair bit to chew on.
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on June 8, 2014
I gave this book 3 stars because the writing is very good and the vocabulary rich. I haven't seen the play but it sounded like an original fun story. However, it's a very depressing long book at almost 500 pages on my Kindle. None of the characters are very likable. The perspective switches around and then you wonder what happened to that character. Horrible things happen to many of them and many things are left unexplained. The story touches on politics, religion, animal rights, war, injustice, sex, apathy, greed. Typically a smart conversation on these topics would interest me but not in such an overwhelmingly negative way. The book is way too long and we really don't need to know every little detail from before the main character was even born. This book is well written but depressing and too long.
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on January 9, 2014
This story was certainly interesting and creative. However, I don't know what the point is. It seems like some people in this world seem to have this driving need to humanize evil. If I had to guess then this is what I think this book is really about. We live in a time where it is not politically correct to see someone as evil, period. There has to be a reason. There is no way that they are just evil inside. Someone had to make them the way that they are. Enter the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz. The author could not leave well enough alone that the witch is just evil. He had to make up a story explaining that evil and showing why it is not really her fault. The witch is good, the wizard is bad and made her what she is. Turn everything on its head. I don't see the need.
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on August 29, 2011
Wicked is broken up into five sections. The final one is splendid; the others, a bit of a slog. The prose is wondrous; Elphaba makes a great, complicated heroine; and I admire the way Maguire has expanded Baum's skeletal Oz into a rich, detailed fantasy world all its own ... but I was often bored an impatient reading this book. There was not enough action or forward motion, and I was often left confused as to what philosophical truth about good and evil was being expounded. Occasionally the novel was very funny, it was always intelligent, and the finale, though expected, was thrilling and heart-wrenching, but in the end the book takes itself a little too seriously. Fans of literary fiction may love it. I wanted to, but couldn't.
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This book has caught my eye several times. It worries me, though, that it's caught my eye in the Young Adult section of the bookstores. If anything, it's Adult. I don't mean porn or erotica, but it's certainly mature. I would not want any child under the age of 18 reading it.

What is so mature about it? Some of the sexual information in it is very mature. And yes, there are a few four-letter words.

When I first started reading it, I took to Facebook and to Twitter and asked, does it get better? It starts off very slowly. In fact, the first part that focuses on the childhood of Elphaba drags on like my cat when I tried to teach her how to walk on a leash (this was in my childhood).

If you're picking up this book and thinking it's a light, easy read, put it back down. It's full of references to the Holocaust. Religion and political issues are at the forefront.

Did I like it? I am not sure. There were some great parts but there was also quite a bit of tedium. I think if you enjoy fantasy in general, you will really like this book. I'm not into it the way that I used to be.
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on January 1, 2015
Disclaimer: I'm one of those that read this book AFTER watching the original movie (The Wizard of Oz, 1939) and the stage show of Wicked).
So, after reading some of the negative reviews here, I still purchased this thinking that some people just didn't have enough of an open mind - expecting things from the book based on what they saw in the original film (Wizard of Oz, 1939) or the Wicked musical.
I'm not sure how many people were actually authoring this story, but about 1/2 way through I had the impression that some 20-something female writer (that writes those crappy romance/sex/adventure books) had taken over.
For WICKED lovers: If you are interested in this book to help fill the gaps from the stage show, like I did, this is NOT what you want to read. The musical is said to be based on this book but, wow, they changed so much! I'm at a loss for how someone read this book and then said "Hey kids! Let's put on a show!". This is not a fun read. In fact, it is a very tedious read. And just when you think they are finally getting to the parts you want to know more about, it switches to something completely different (and practically unrelated to the story plot). This is a very long book, and by time I got half way through, I couldn't believe how much more I had to go. When I got to 3/4 finished, I was wishing it would just end, but I endured hoping for a big pay off in this last part of the book - NO! Every time you think it will finally explain things from the movie or the stage show, it again takes a different direction leaving with a very dejected feeling of despair - all the way up to the very end!
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on April 13, 2014
This story is full of politics. If the excessive politics are pulled out you do wind up with the musical Wicked! I'm not very interested in reading about such fake and intricate politics as this book puts forth however the actual story part is very interesting to read. The political backdrop doesn't become over powering until 2/3 of the way through the book. I still think it is worth a read - it's just not at the right value yet for what you get.

The back-story for the wicked witch is very interesting and worth while - the political discourse when she grows up makes it hard to keep opening the book.
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