Monday, July 14, 2014

My Review of "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West"

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Book: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Author: Gregory Maguire

I loved all the Oz books as a kid, and have enjoyed re-reading many of them as an adult.

I wanted to like Wicked.  I thought that I would.

I didn't though.

It just wasn't . . . good.

To be perfectly fair, I started and stopped this book over the course of a year.  (Which I don't think I've done with any other work of fiction that I've read.)  I tried to read it while in the throes of morning sickness, all nine months of it.  That alone doesn't bode well, I suppose.  It was a real struggle to finish the book.

The basic idea of the plot I like, and there's so much potential!  I would like to know the back story of The Wicked Witch.  I would like to know what drives her.  I would like to empathize with her.  I would like to see another side of Oz.

I was even fine with The Land of Oz losing some of it's innocence.  Although, I did not appreciate all the sexual innuendo, or sex, it just came off as crass and unnecessary.  (Side note: this is an adult book, Baum's books are safe for all ages.)  Maybe I'm a bit of a prude, but I can live with that.

The writing style was a bit irksome at times.  Maguire, rather excessively, shows off his wide vocabulary.  It often felt pretentious rather than natural.  Phrases that were meant to be poetic (I think) were simply awkward and burdensome.

The plot development was rather disjointed. It was annoying that each section ended rather abruptly -- lots of build-up without real resolution.  Characters finally started to develop and then we moved on to new people.

Maguire seemingly attempts to struggle with the concepts of good, evil, religion, and god but he never really gets anywhere.  I got the impression that the book wanted to be deep and thought provoking, but instead it simply wasn't.

In my humble opinion, this was a case of good idea, bad execution.

What did you think?  Did you find the book to be a worthwhile read?  Did you enjoy the musical more or less?

PS: Despite my dislike for the book, I do want to see the musical.


  1. I had mixed feelings about the book as well, and the sequel, too. I think it tried to be too political at times. And it definitely lost the innocence of Baum's work. But I still would like to see the musical.

  2. ^What she said, and what you said too. The musical is very good, one short scene lets you know how Elfaba was conceived out of wedlock, and the rest is all G rated.

  3. I didn't love or hate this book. I thought it was odd, and like you, I wished there was less sex, but overall, I was sort of left feeling a sense of "meh" from the book, which isn't really what an author wants to hear, I imagine! Thanks for linking to Quote Me Thursday!

  4. Son of a Witch, for me, was much better. Reading it first made me want to go back and read Wicked again, and then I liked it. I do agree with the pretentious use of vocabulary though. It's almost like Maguire was trying to prove that he knew how to use a thesaurus.


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