Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: Regan Books
How I Read It: Paperback purchased by me.
Synopsis: 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-nemesis, 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.
My Review: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Wicked, but I can safely say that I enjoy it more every time I read it. I adore getting caught up in the world of Oz regardless of the source, but Maguire’s world holds a special place in my heart. I feel like I catch more about this world every time I read the series, which makes me respect Maguire even more as an author.
This version of Oz provides a great backdrop for commentary on things that are going on in our society, and really can be modified to think of social issues we’re dealing with at any time. The struggle of the Animals in this book can be likened to the struggle of any minority in our social landscape, which makes it more sad to me because I know these kinds of horrible things have happened in our history, and are still happening now in some way or another.
Aside from all the political and social implications, we get to see the entire life of Elphaba, and her involvement with the other important figures of Oz that we are already familiar with – Glinda, the Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and the Wicked Witch of the East. Maguire does a great job of linking all these people together, since Oz is such a small land you know many of them would have come in contact with each other before Dorothy’s arrival. It also sets the backdrop for future books in this series, as we see the origin of the Lion in this book, who goes on to be a central character in the third book in the series. At the same time, I originally read Wicked before any sequels had come out, so it’s fascinating to see how Maguire has weaved these threads together over the course of the whole series, and built upon the foundation he sets up so nicely in the first book.
As always, I immensely enjoyed reading this book again, and even though we all know how the Witch meets her end, I keep hoping a little bit that it’ll be different somehow. Through the brilliance of the series, however, we do get to see Elphaba’s life carry on in a way, which really fills me with a joy. She’s such an amazing character, one that I feel so many ties to, and I’m so glad to have her in my life as often as I want.
Read this book if: I’m a huge fan of this series, so I would suggest it to anyone! I sort of force this book upon anyone who displays any interest at all.
My Rating: 5/5 – Did I say cool? Make that awesome!