Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Mass Market Paperback – Sep 25 2007
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
My daughter loves this book. We went to see the play and it was awesome. Read the book as well and you'll really enjoy the story of the wicked witch and you'll have fun finding... Read morePublished 3 months ago by JC
I made the mistake of watching the musical and then getting interested in the book. My expectations were skewed as a result and it was difficult to make sense of the plot with the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by torontopanda
Best book ever! if you have seen the musical I suggest forgetting all about that when you read this book. They are not similar.Published 11 months ago by Star Chick
I really enjoyed the first part of this book, but in part to it stopped being a story and was just a discussion of politics and I lost interest.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
I really enjoyed the book but was disappointed with the ending. I just saw the play "Wicked" and was delighted that even not so wicked witches can have the " happily... Read morePublished on July 9 2014 by c Legere
Fantastic. Will be one of the few books that I will read several times. As with any good book it presents great ideas on humanity and what drives us. Read this. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2014 by Trevor A Loughridge