Title: Wicked (Wicked Years #1)
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: HarperCollins 1995
Rating: 3/5 stars 4/5 stars for the musical
Reading Challenges: Fantasy Project; ebook; Book to Movie (or musical); Lucky 14 -- Walking Down Memory Lane
This is the book that started it all! The basis for the smash hit Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Gregory Maguire's breathtaking New York Times bestseller Wicked views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker and greener (not rosier) lens. Brilliantly inventive, Wicked offers us a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West who, as Maguire tells us, wasn’t nearly as Wicked as we imagined.
I probably read this right around the time is was released. I recall reading it in high school but can't pinpoint the year, so anywhere from 1995-2000. I recall that I really enjoyed the novel. Upon rereading, my opinion of the book has lowered. I love love love the premise! We get to see how the Wicked Witch became the WW. I always assumed there was more to the story than she was just wicked. Overall, I gravitate toward villains. They usually have much more interesting back stories than heroes. I was to learn what makes them tick. I want to see their motivations for doing wicked things. So, I love the idea of this book. I love the concept the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch were friends once upon a time. I love the idea of expanding the discussion of politics and social class within Oz.
But then we come to the actual book and most of it falls fairly flat. The story becomes a bit convoluted. I got lost in all the small details of the world that are included but don't seem to matter much in the long run. I was disappointed in the little growth exhibited by Elphaba and Galinda. I wanted to see more. I wanted to really track their paths to seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum. The side character flit in and out of the story with little to no consequence. I wanted to truly explore the world of Oz, but the choppiness of the novel impeded my ability to dive in and get lost. Upon rereading, I just didn't love this book.
On the other hand, I adore the musical. I saw a production of Wicked in Chicago in 2008 and fell in love. Of course, I didn't get to experience the musical with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, but the actresses in the production were very good and enjoyable. The musical succeeds by narrowing the focus to the journeys of Elphaba and Galinda. It cuts out Elphaba's childhood and some of the minor plots from the book. We also contain the action to Shiz and then the Emerald City. By doing so, we get a better sense of the women's journeys and the implications of their choices. Plus, it has some great songs!
- #1 Wicked
- #2 Son of a Witch
- #3 A Lion Among Men
- #4 Out of Oz