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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West | [Gregory Maguire]

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Heralded as an instant classic of fantasy literature, Maguire has written a wonderfully imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. More than just a fairy tale for adults, Wicked is a meditation on the nature of good and evil.
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Publisher's Summary

Heralded as an instant classic of fantasy literature, Maguire has written a wonderfully imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. More than just a fairy tale for adults, Wicked is a meditation on the nature of good and evil.

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (4440 )
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3.9 (2105 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tryshch Oakland Park, FL, USA 11-28-05
    Tryshch Oakland Park, FL, USA 11-28-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    8
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    "VERY adult"

    I got this book because I love the Broadway version. I was very surprised at the extent of the "foul" language... I was quite surprised, because he has such a great vocabulary. I would have expected more creativity in the "bad" words. Many explicit and suggestive scenes in the story, making for some interesting sub-texts. I did enjoy the thorough was the characters were developed, although some parts did seem excessively long. The narrator was very good and didn't get in the way of the story as some narrators do.

    43 of 52 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nina Olney, MD, United States 11-12-08
    Nina Olney, MD, United States 11-12-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    5
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    "Sometimes Hard Listening, but I Couldn't Stop"

    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.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corrie Emeryville, CA, United States 11-03-11
    Corrie Emeryville, CA, United States 11-03-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Biggest waste of time, no joke"

    I really don't get all the stellar reviews on this book. I mean if you take a look at the good ones, they either fairly vague on what is "good" about the story or look more like a synopsis. I was interested due to the popularity of the musical and how this was suppose to be another point of view of the story, but I couldn't help but continually get bored and sometimes disgusted. I never cared about the characters, not even Elphaba (and most of them were extraordinarily annoying) probably because I couldn't relate to anybody. I constantly felt like I was some bystander being thrust around to just be left behind scratching my head or my thoughts wondering off. I just thought it strange for the author to create this world of what I picture to be like our 1800s where there is formality and old-fashioned ways to also go into rather gross detail of all the sexual encounters (not even arousing either - just trash so don't get excited) including beastiality that were just pointless to the story - so not for kids AT ALL. So much of what happened was either not explained and just seemed to happen with the author, I guess, assuming that we could immediately understand his version of the culture of Oz, just a lot of implied occurrences and confusion. So I didn't think it was well written at all. But if anything, this would take the cake on being way too long, I just couldn't finish it and I don't think I ever will. Plus it got old with the authors pretentious rant on politics and religion. Rather than the story being a soapbox for the author, maybe he should have spent more time making sure the story was actually interesting and made sense. Don't waste your money or credit.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nik 09-08-07
    Nik 09-08-07 Member Since 2007

    Enjoying audiobooks daily!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
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    76
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    "Interesting"

    This was a really great book to have read to me and my first ever audio book experience! I really enjoyed it. I think the narrator was wonderful and the story was intense. I really could feel Elphaba's emotions, especially her loneliness. She really got to me. I always knew she was misunderstood, even if a bit of a grump. Galinda was a priss and a snot who only became human briefly. NessaRose was just plain weird. I couldn't get her at all. Liir was a whimp of a boy. The Emporer of Oz was a meglomaniac if I ever saw one, and I enjoyed his dialouge. I loved Nanny and Chistery the winged monkey. Overall, it's good to know Elphaba had love with her pain in life. Who cares about Galinda and her pretty dresses! I have a new outlook on an old favorite now.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan B. Bay Area, CA 01-27-06
    Susan B. Bay Area, CA 01-27-06 Member Since 2005

    Susan B.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OK, but not a classic"

    After hearing all the hype about this book, I guess it wasn't a surprise that I was disappointed.

    The plot line was a very inventive & creative one, but the author strains to hard to make everything mesh with the original Wizard of Oz story line. It becomes less creative and more of a stretch.

    Like other reviewers, I agree that the story tends to ramble on quite a bit. And there is some plain just weird, pointless stuff.

    I'm glad I listened to the story so I know about it, but I wouldn't listen or read it again. Your imagination of the concept is probably better!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Huntersville, NC, USA 12-26-05
    Mary Huntersville, NC, USA 12-26-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wicked is captivating"

    This book was an absolute joy to listen to (best narrator I've heard yet) and was not only entertaining but stimulating and thought provoking. I don't consider myself a fantasy reader but this is really no fantasy. It's an adventure of the mind and spirit...and full of good humor too. I will never see the Wizard of Oz in the same light again!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Wife Louisville, KY 02-08-06
    The Wife Louisville, KY 02-08-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    "Would this book ever end!"

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nina Arlington, VA, USA 06-29-08
    Nina Arlington, VA, USA 06-29-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yawn!"

    At the end of the day, I felt no richer for having read this book and appalled that it had gained so much praise. But then I felt perhaps some of the blame had been my own. The title is: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It implies a straightforward, telling of the happenings and events in this one characters world. It was simply my mistake to assume I'd discover a vibrant flesh and blood character brought to life in these pages.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 04-17-13
    Mary 04-17-13
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    "Imaginative but fails to connect"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Probably not. The writing style is a little cold and makes it very difficult to connect with any of the characters. By the time the book was over, I just didn't care what happened to everyone.


    What could Gregory Maguire have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Make his characters more likeable and more 3-dimensional.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    No. Choosing a male actor to narrate a piece with mostly female protagonists doesn't make sense.


    Did Wicked inspire you to do anything?

    Only to never read another Maguire novel.


    Any additional comments?

    This book could have been really exceptional, but the writer spent way too much time on metaphorical ideas and simile descriptions and not nearly enough time on the interactions between the characters and how to make his readers connect with them.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Brentwood, TN, United States 05-03-12
    Barbara Brentwood, TN, United States 05-03-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Expected to like it but I hated it!"

    How this book ever got popular is beyond me. I kept on listening figuring that maybe it would get better, but it never did. The Broadway play was a big smash hit--but this story just plods along, half fantasy, half political diatribe and wholly a bore. Don't waste a credit on it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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