Elphaba is born with green skin, a precocious mind, and a talent for magic. An outcast throughout her childhood in Munchkinland, she finally begins to feel as though she fits in when she enters the University in the Emerald City. While she hones her skills, she discovers that Oz isn't the Utopia it seems. She sets out to protect its unwanted creatures, becoming known as the Wicked Witch along the way.
Narrator John McDonough draws you in to Maguire's magical world of witches and talking animals, making it possible to believe in a land somewhere over the rainbow.
©1995 Gregory Maguire; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
"A staggering feat of wordcraft." (Los Angeles Times)
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
This book was well written, first and foremost. The language itself is beautiful. The story it tells is complex and involved, and the fully fleshed characters are consistently believable in their world. Excellent book if you like fantasy of Tolkein quality, or if you liked The Wizard of Oz and want a more detailed view of the world.
My only complaint was that the ending seemed forced, and there was a point near the end where the narrative seems lost, as though the writer had had so much fun with his story that he suddenly realized he wasn't sure how to get back to The Wizard of Oz story. It starts seeming a little more contrived then, and I found the ending a bit weak in comparison to the rest. Minor flaw, really, in the context of such an impressive achievement.
A note of caution: I got this to listen to with my kids. Mistake. This is not kid friendly. Lots of sexual innuendos and some outright sex. Not bad for adults, but you might blush while wondering how much of that your child understood.
I found Wicked facinating. The author managed to make Oz a complex land. The narrator was terrific - can't imagine the book being read by anyone else. However, I didn't care for the sexual content. It was sometimes perverted, but never graphic. Saw no reason for some of the sexual references & scenes. ALso, I wish that characters had been better developed.
The book as a whole was disturbing. It was occassionally funny and often depressing. I wasn't expecting a "FUN!" read, but some of the brutal things that happened were over the top from my POV. Overall, this was a good & highly imaginative book, and I recommend it with reservations.
Don't be deceived by all the good reviews! This book was interminable, and I usually love a nice long audiobook. I kept waiting for something significant to happen or for something interesting to come of the endless details. Just when you thought, "Oh, I'll bet this will explain something in the Wizard of Oz", the detail would fall so flat and be so unimportant that you realized you never really cared all along. No insights into the witch's thinking were really provided. Boring, boring, boring!! Do not be tempted to get this book.
Maguire fills in all the blanks, answers all the questions, and steps up to the plate for all those who wanted to know all of the "why's" to all those unanswered questions in The Wizard of Oz. Maguire skillfully winds the tale of yellow brick road making it difficult to do anything but focus 110% of this skillfully written tale.
Contrary to one recent review, this is a tale that NO ONE should skip the opportunity to read and become thoroughly immersed.
Christian, Texan, electrician, lover of reading-I lean towards Sci-fi/fantasy but enjoy the classics, history, and science titles also.
Probably not. The narrator was ok but the story was hard to swallow. The author spent way too long describing the color of tea, whether or not said tea should be consumed, and what the weather must have been like while the tea leaves we're growing and not enough time explaining what the wonderful magical beings of oz were like. After listening to the whole thing I am still not certain why the witch is green, why she hates water, and why she is such a grouch.
This book did not tell a story it just told about simple mundane tasks and life decisions that brought each character to where they ended up.
Mr. McDonough read this in a matter of fact way that felt a little one dimensional. I am however betting it was due mostly to the story content.
Perhaps I could have done without the image of the wicked witch of the west having sex.
This book repeatedly represents the witch as an animal lover and even describes a distinctly Toto like dog in her possession. What gives?
Bohemian Bon Vivant
John McDonough was the one saving grace of listening through the tedium that is Wicked. His narration is both entertaining and masterful, and far better than the material he was given.
What a terrible, poorly constructed and thought out hodgepodge of notions and little more, all glommed together inartfully, in search of a story, a plot, and of universal and resonant themes that never come.
The book starts out well and is mesmerizing in the beginning chapters when the witch is a baby. After that, it's a complete mess, and not particularly satisfying on any level.
To say it's half-baked would be generous.
I'm going to be quick about this review. This was a terrible book. The narrator was good, not great, but good, but after an hour of listening to him, I seriously wanted to strangle the man. I blame most of this impulse/need on the writer. His material is just SO terribly overdone, that it stretches and stretches and stretches on, for days, weeks, years. Some writers can do detail in such an interesting manner that it draws you in and keeps you there, keeps you interested in the story. This writer does not do that. His story sucks you in and tries to drown you. Overall, the story itself is dull, lacking, overinflated (How can it be lacking and overinflated at the same time? Trust me, it can.), and a downright insult to actual Oz-related literature. OK, not as quick as I should have been but I can't say enough how much I really disliked this book. Please read this, please take to heart what I've said, please, for the love of Oz, DO NOT listen to this book.
I am a big fan of the stage version, have seen it three times. i was well aware that the book and the stage were very different. the artistic quality of the book simply is not as high as the stage adaptation. i knew it would be darker, etc., and that would have been fine, but ultimately it dragged too much or was too depressing. Fine use of language to tell a story, but not enough to keep me going. DNF = did not finish.
part time gourmet, full time nerd
I enjoyed the Wizard of Oz books and loved the stage adaption and had high hopes of this story. Sadly it was not what I expected. The heavy religious and political plot was clunky and lacking in sophistication. It was also so hard to like any of the characters; I was apathetic for most of the story.
The first time I tried reading the book I gave up about two chapters in, the next time I made it halfway. I hoped that listening to the story would make it more interesting and it did, but it still grates on my nerves.
My annoyance was amplified by the poor audio quality of the recording. Every time I hear the narrator gulp I want to throw my ipod out the window. Even the Audible intro and announcements sound like it was recorded in someone’s bathroom.
I always wanted to read this book, so I didn't bother to check the reviews. But as the others said, I'm several chapters in to the book and it's chapter after chapter of the main characters having sex or talking about having sex, described in the cheapest, lowest way--this is NOT a romance novel. It's more like a junior high locker room novel (like Bennie Hill), with no plot. After all this time we are only up to the main character saying her first word. Don't know if I will bother to finish it--probably won't.
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