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October 26, 2012

I have never been a fast reader for many reasons, currently the most common reason being that I am just short on time and I’d rather sleep or not have to think anymore. I started reading Wicked this summer (when life was definitely more relaxed) because I’d heard people rave about the play (but I don’t know how similar the two are other than I assume both very very good, the book is for sure) and I love a good fairy tale remix. But the problem with this book is I knew what was going to happen. The Wicked Witch of the West will die in the end, how or why I didn’t know, but I knew she would end up dead. I liked the Wicked Witch (Elphaba) very early on in reading the book and didn’t want her to die. So when things were starting to move that direction, I put the book down. For several months. You know, so I didn’t have to be sad…

Well, I had the opportunity to go to Montreal last weekend for the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) annual conference and decided a plane would be the perfect time to finish it up. That only took about an hour, then I was out of reading material (And then got stuck in Denver for 12 hours overnight, awesome) ūüė¶ . In the end it was stupid of me to put off the ending I knew was coming and this book is really easy to read.

There are some nice illustrations in the book too, here I’ve only scanned the cover and inside cover art, even a map of Oz as it’s described in the text!

Title: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Author: Gregory Maguire

No. of pages: 406 (paperback)

ISBN: 0061862312

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantacy

Year of original publication: 1995 (hardback)

Synopsis: From the back cover:

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemisis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

The basic gist, in my mind, of this book is the question of “what is evil?,” something that is always hard to understand under the best of¬†circumstances¬†because humans are not simply good and evil. Everyone is a little bit of both inside, it just depends how a person thinks and presents themselves, and if you have force and power to back up your ideas. The evil of discrimination in all forms is also very¬†prevalent, mainly against the talking animals, but it can really make you angry sometimes. If the book’s only purpose was to help stop discrimination and segregation, I’d call it a win. Because to me it doesn’t matter what you’re intentions are, discrimination is just plain evil.

What did you like or dislike about the book?¬†I love when classic stories or fairy tales are rewritten, I went through a stage in middle school where I scoured book stores and libraries for fairy tales (mostly princess stories) rewritten. So this interpretation is right up my alley. And it makes complete sense that the Wicked Witch isn’t really wicked or a witch, she is just labeled that way because she is different and doesn’t put up with bullshit. The only down side is the plot can be slow moving at times, and some parts that I felt weren’t too important were elaborated on way too much, while other parts were just glazed over. But this is fiction so that stuff can just be left to the imagination.

I also don’t really like that it’s a series (there are 4 in total I think) because I don’t know how much more of the engulfing emotion of reading the first book I can take. I appreciate the detail, but like I said, somethings could have been wrapped up a bit more.

Would you read it again? Would you recommend it to others?¬†I won’t be reading it again, but I’ll consider picking up the next book in the series some day. And I definitely recommend it, long winded or not, it was hard to put down (except when I knew Elphie was going to die, then just I didn’t want to deal with the loss…).

Also:¬†For some reason after the¬†Broadway¬†play happened, several doll versions of Elphaba and Glinda were¬†produced. Of course I think a green skinned doll is pretty sweet. Here are my favorite two that I’ve seen:

Tonner Basic Wicked Witch from 2007, there were “non basic” versions too and many fancy outfits that Elphaba in the book would never wear.

Madame Alexander’s Elphaba. I think this one is more accurate to the play and I also think it looks more like Elphaba (from my head) because she wasn’t glamorous. But she needs a big trench coat or something.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2012 4:46 am

    I feel about as you did about the book- it was a hard read because I didn’t want her to have the end I knew must come, but I really enjoyed the read. When you decide to read the rest of the series- don’t buy- email me your address- I’d be glad to send them to you…the literary circle of life, you knows.

    • October 27, 2012 4:59 pm

      Did you like the rest of the series? Obviously it’s not part of the original story line so I don’t know what would happen, but I’m just not sure if it’s worth it or not.

      • October 27, 2012 5:01 pm

        yes and no. They were darker than I was wanting to read at the time, but well written. I’ve enjoyed all of Maguires books, except Lost.

      • October 28, 2012 8:31 am

        It’s got the same political vaguelly melancholy feeling

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