I'm a rabid Oz fan that loved the series as a child and was interested to learn more about the Wicked Witch of the West. Her backstory is okay at first, and there are a few good parts, but Elphaba does not end up being the same witch found in The Wizard of Oz. Her story does not neatly tie into the fairy tale, and she acts in rather uncharacteristic ways...so, it was a disappointment. The political commentary also doesn't seem to fit the world that Baum created, especially when compared to the series as a whole. John McDonough is boring. He isn't the worst I've heard, but I found myself falling asleep to his readings so often that I would have to listen to another book after about an hour at work just to stay awake. He only has like three different voices, and I had a hard time keeping what character was talking straight at times. This book is also a lot more adult than Baum's series, so there are some graphic descriptions.
Okay, when I saw the word annotated I thought maybe there would be some sort of notes at the end of the chapters or something describing where Baum got some ideas. No. Annotated means the exact same boring introduction describing the books and the land of Oz are pasted at the beginning of each volume of the series. It's a very long introduction that you have to fast-forward through (the actual story begins about 25 minutes into the reading). I love the Oz books. And though Ron Knowles does have a wide variety of different voices for the different characters (that he sometimes misuses), he's boring. Definitely don't bother using a credit on this one...I would suggest buying them instead.
Bacigalupi is very imaginative in The Windup Girl. Imagining a future where the growing of crops has been dominated by genetic engineers in the Midwestern US that release terrible plagues to ensure the viability of their own goods, he gives a chilling view of what might happen after petroleum reserves run out and global warming has flooded major cities. Very well written, from a variety of different viewpoints. I loved Jonathan Davis' narration--he did a very good job creating a unique voice for all characters and mimicking accents characters from various locales in Asia. The Windup Girl herself is very empathetic. As a warning, there are very graphic parts in the book, especially in regards to the profession the Windup Girl is forced into after she is abandoned by her original owner. Still, I highly recommend it. I gave it 4 stars because there were a few times when it seemed to drag a bit and was a little repetitive. But it's a great listen if you've got the time.
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