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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Mass Market Paperback – Sep 25 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 603 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
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  • Son of a Witch: Volume Two in The Wicked Years
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  • A Lion Among Men: Volume Three in The Wicked Years
Total price: CDN$ 30.09
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (Sept. 25 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061350966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061350962
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 603 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Have you ever read a popular book and wondered why it was so popular? That's exactly how I felt as I worked my way through WICKED. Actually, that's not entirely true. I know why it's a New York Times Bestseller. Part of it has to do with the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I expected a light, fairy tale-like story. It's based on a children's book. There's a Broadway musical about it. Sounds like it should be fun, right? Uh, not quite. I get the feeling, though, that a lot of people thought as I did and bought WICKED looking for an easy-to-read lead-up to THE WIZARD OF OZ. I wonder how many of them finished reading the book when they figured out the truth?

Although to be fair, WICKED doubtless also owes some of its popularity to the fact that it's a well-written, literary novel that can be appreciated by well-read, literary-type people. Unfortunately, I'm really not one of those. Giving me a piece of deep, meaningful literature is like giving a copy of Hemingway's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA to a manatee. In other words, I was disappointed. My disappointment was partly in the book for not fulfilling my expectations, and partly in myself for not being able to appreciate a quality literary effort.

In case you've been living in a hollowed out tree for the last couple of years and haven't heard about the play, WICKED is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West. The book delves far deeper into the witch's life and times than any musical could in only two hours, however. In the book version of WICKED, readers are introduced to the witch, whose real name is Elphaba, when she is first born. She's green and has dangerous, pointy teeth. Needless to say, she's not too popular with the other children.
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Format: Paperback
This is a gorgeous novel. The writing is beautiful, every scene dances off the paper and paints itself like a magnificent oil portrait in your mind. The characters are three-dimensional, gripping and endlessly interesting. Elphaba (Maguire's name for L. Frank Baum's "The Wicked Witch of the West" is probably my favourite female protagonist of all time. She is fiercely intelligent, strong willed, and passionate, but these very traits make her unsure of what is the best path in life, hesitant, and she gains a cold and harsh façade as a result. The world of Oz itself has never seemed to fleshed out or tangible and critical fans of fantasy novels and world-building will have little to complain about.

WICKED is a prequel to, and inversion of, L. Frank Baum's children's classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (1900) but it is also a complex observation of society, politics, religion, humanity, and the nature of "good" and "evil." The characters are beautiful and you can't help but fall a little bit in love with them, the dialogue is perfect, and the language haunting. This is going to be a classic.
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Format: Paperback
Wicked: The life and times of the wicked witch. There simply aren't enough words on this earth to describe how truly wonderful this book was. When I bought it from the bookstore, the woman working there nearly fell to her knees praising the thing, so I figured I'd give it a go.
I loved the Wizard of Oz. It was, beyond doubt, my favourite childhood chapter book. But Wicked takes a whole new spin on Oz and it's inhabitants. The witch, whom I used to have nightmares about, is now one of my most favourite characters. She's an unconventional heroin that you learn to love and understand. Her life is sad and confusing and it leads her to the point of no return
To compare it to The Wizard of Oz is impossible. First of all, it isn't a children's book. It is a very grown up, dark and deep novel that only adults and older teens can appreciate. It's closer to Giorgio Kostantinos's--The Quest-- Than to our favorite childhood movie.
I cried at the end, I cried for Elphie, I cried for that witch that kept me up until 3am when I was 10. --.Thanks Barbara
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By A Customer on Feb. 4 2004
Format: Paperback
I know from looking at all the reviews that many liked this book. My only question is "Why?" The author rambles on and on about scenery, religion, animal rights, and the fact that Elphaba is all kinds of weird-looking. Which is great, if you like books where people rant about theology and politics in a FICTIONAL work.
Let us now discuss the story...This book seemed like it'd be good. I really wanted to like it. But I hated all the characters with the possible exception of Glinda. She was the only one who didn't seem like a cliche of herself. All the others were overly self-righteous cardboard cutouts. And it's supposed to be an account of what "Really" happened in the "Wizard of Oz," yet Dorothy doesn't even get introduced until the last part. Another point of contention: the weird incestuous overtones going on with Elphaba's lover's widow and her children. And the sex-scenes(and oh yes there are many)are pretty bad too. Anyway, save your money. Buy virtually anything else, or (if you like torture) borrow it from a friend. I'm glad I did.
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Format: Paperback
Sigh. I _really_ wanted to like this book. I was terribly disappointed and I had to steel myself to finish it as a result. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that it is billed as "brilliant", "insightful", and even as a "psychological study"... and so I expected a book on par with classic literary tales addressing the nature of good and evil, a book that could add to an already extensive body of sophisticated literature.
Instead, I read a book wherein the author merely dabbles in character development and philosophical concerns, and never takes on the risk of drawing any conclusions. Instead of creating believable characters (and I do not feel the term 'believable' forbids the fantastic) that struggle with legitimate and engrossing dilemmas, the author parades us past a whole host of one-dimensional characters and odd scenarios that are astonishingly devoid of any real complexity despite the elaborate and thorough descriptions employed. Maguire is conscientious in introducing a wide spectrum of issues that are at the fore of modern Western culture (such as homosexuality/lesbianism, living with disability, the nature of justice, etc.), but to claim that he gets to anything _beyond_ an introduction on even one of these issues is laughable. I would describe his method as the 'Post-it Note' approach to the themes he claims to address... and while Maguire's writing style is certainly palatable, that's no excuse for his lack of depth.
Sure, it seems oh-so-current and fresh for 1995, but this isn't a book that will stand the test of time. In this regard, it is almost embarassing to draw attention to it's dependence on the true classic children's tale, _The Wizard of Oz_... a book that never pretends to be more than it is and yet accomplishes so much more than Maguire's feeble and soon-to-be-passe attempt to update and maturate the original.
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