This novel presents a disturbing and provocative view of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective. Finally deemed worthy of a name, readers follow the life of Elphaba as she grows from a neglected infant to a much misunderstood woman murdered by a cold mercenary from Kansas. Author Gregory Maguire paints a bleak, cynical picture of Oz filled with secret police, racism, oppression, sadism and more. This isn't the fairy tale from your childhood...
Overall the book is thought-provoking and extremely rich in language and imagery. It's a treat to read. The exploration of morality is compelling and the conflict between good versus evil is reduced almost to a debate between semantics. In some ways it's possible to compare Wicked to Lolita in the way the evil of the central character is humanized.
Not so much bound together by a story, the book explores a darker side of Oz by outlining its history. Expect the book to offer a wealth of ideas and images rather than a page-turning plot. In many ways, the novel is poetic in nature.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it. Oz is less enjoyable now that I am an adult and the debate Maguire raises in Wicked is more compelling, in some ways, than the black-and-white morally clear world Baum painted for my childhood.