From Publishers Weekly
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny, Glinda's snobbish friends and the wide-eyed, soft-spoken Dorothy make this excursion to Oz worthwhile.
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From School Library Journal
YA?Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, has gotten a bum rap. Her mother is embarrassed and repulsed by her bright-green baby with shark's teeth and an aversion to water. At college, the coed experiences disapproval and rejection by her roommate, Glinda, a silly girl interested only in clothes, money, and popularity. Elphaba is a serious and inquisitive student. When she learns that the Wizard of Oz is politically corrupt and causing economic ruin, Elphaba finds a sense of purpose to her life?to stop him and to restore harmony and prosperity to the land. A Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and an unknown species called a "Dorothy" appear in very small roles... The story presents Elphaba in a sympathetic and empathetic manner-readers will want her to triumph! The conclusion, however, is the same as L. Frank Baum's. The book has both idealism and cynicism in its discussion of social, religious, educational, and political issues present in Oz, and, more pointedly, present in our day and time. The idealism is whimsical and engaging; the cynicism is biting. Sometimes the earthy language seems appropriate and adds to the sense of place; sometimes the four-letter words and sexual explicitness distract from the charm of the tale. The multiple threads to the plot proceed unevenly, so that the pace of the story jumps rather than moves steadily forward. Wicked is not an easy rereading of The Wizard of Oz. It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy.?Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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