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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 (4935 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alison Philadelphia, PA, United States 07-14-06
    Alison Philadelphia, PA, United States 07-14-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    102
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    281
    14
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    4
    3
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    "Worst book ever!"

    This story is about as engaging and believable as a George bush speech. Badly written and slow to develop, the story is compromised for character development, and when all is said and done you are left with unbelievable characters that you can't relate to.

    This is a drab and humorousness tale of a woman's struggle for change in a repressive, hierarchical, and tyrannical society. Instead of the fantastical land of ahz we love, we are shown a fascist state: complete with a personality cult, prison and child indoctrination camps. A bad allegory at best, this book is entirely without substance and uninteresting.

    Look elsewhere to use your credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Littleton, MA, United States 07-14-06
    Stephanie Littleton, MA, United States 07-14-06 Member Since 2002

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    72
    ratings
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    224
    31
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    14
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    Overall
    "Cool Idea"

    Wow, this is either a "Love" or "Hate" relationship with this book. I did like it. It was not 'action packed' but did bring up interesting ideas and a pretty good perspective to her life. If you are ready to sit back and enjoy a good tale, then this is good. If you think that, after listening to this, you wasted 20+ hours of your life, then Geez, don't listen past the first 3 hours. d'uh.
    Good book, good narrator, good story.
    Steph

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luvzhorses Hutto, Texas 06-14-06
    Luvzhorses Hutto, Texas 06-14-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "EXCELLENT!"

    I truly enjoyed this entire book. I was, of course, heart broken with the ending and only wish that Elphaba could have been better understood and her life not so tragic...but then there wouldn't be THIS story, right? At any rate, I highly recommend this audiobook and I can't wait until the musical becomes affordable for us working folks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Cedar Falls, IA, USA 06-02-06
    Kelly Cedar Falls, IA, USA 06-02-06 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    130
    1
    Overall
    "A pleasant, nostalgia-challenging surprise"

    Wicked is one of the most clever books I've heard or read in a long time. I'm impressed by how the author has completely changed the way I feel about characters I've "known" most of my life. In Elphaba, he has taken a character I've always considered completely villainous and made me like her, and he exposes the goodness of characters like Glinda and Dorothy as simply a mask for shallow self-absorption. I also appreciate how the author's explanations for things are seamlessly woven into the story: why Elphaba wants the ruby slippers so much, why the monkeys have wings, why Elphaba is sensitive to water, and so on. Now I'm looking forward to watching the movie The Wizard of Oz again to see how irritating I'll find Dorothy and friends to be now!

    This is a book that, in my observation, generates strong reactions and isn't for everyone, but if you don't mind having your perceptions of characters you've known and loved since childhood challenged, then perhaps you'll find, as I have, a new favorite book in Wicked.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mermaidblue 06-01-06
    Mermaidblue 06-01-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    5
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    "Wicked again"

    So I read this book many, many years ago, it was brilliant then. Listening to it this time was just amazing. I really enjoyed it and felt that the narrator truely gave life to the characters. I had recently read the second novel of this series, Son of A Witch and felt I needed to re-read the first one to make some sense out of the few things that I had forgotten about. It did the trick and still remains one of my favorite novels. I also feel that this is one of gregory Maguire's best books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl West Chester, OH, United States 06-01-06
    Cheryl West Chester, OH, United States 06-01-06 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wicked (Unabridged)"

    I enjoyed this book very much. Seeing it thru the Witches point of view gave me a whole new prospective on the Wizard of Oz.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    omahonycm 05-29-06
    omahonycm 05-29-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    Overall
    "A Cautionary Tale"

    The book obviously has appeal, as evinced by the Broadway musical based on it, and by its best seller status. It is much darker and more thought provoking than the musical, however. That being said, I have yet to finish it. My attention keeps straying, and because of its excrutiating detail and tight plot, I find myself re-listening to the same part. The narrator is good, but as the majority of the book focuses on female characters, his deep voice can be distracting.

    Should you buy this? I don't know. I won't get another of his books, but I think that if I finished it - I'd be glad I did. Listen to the sample, and see what you think.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Tucson, AZ, USA 05-26-06
    Michelle Tucson, AZ, USA 05-26-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book but I rather preferred reading it"

    "Wicked" is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it several years ago and was absolutely enchanted. I listened to it in order to refresh my memory of the story before listening to the sequel, "Son of a Witch." It is very well-read and I enjoyed it again but for some reason I feel that I preferred reading it. I am not sure why but the language he uses is just so beautiful, it is easier to savor in a book when you can go back over the words. I still recommend listening if you won't read it but if you are debating, pick up the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Minneapolis, MN, USA 05-18-06
    Anthony Minneapolis, MN, USA 05-18-06 Member Since 2003
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    "Not what I hoped"

    I thought the set-up was perfect for a witty and humorous story. This is not a comedy (which is why everybody is saying it is slow). If your interest is in a dramatic story comparing good and evil in an interesting world that is not ours then maybe this book is for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Amsterdam, NY, United States 05-16-06
    Michael Amsterdam, NY, United States 05-16-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Too slow paced for me"

    I'm an avid audio book listener and enjoy everything from fast moving fiction to Hawkin's "The Universe in a Nutshell." However, Wicked was simply way too slow paced for me to keep going. It's not that it's poorly written or the narrator is boring. It's just that it's so detailed and so slow moving that I could never get into it - after 12 hours I simply gave up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Kirsty Whittingham
    3/20/08
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    A fantastic retelling of the life of Elpheba the wicked witch of the west in Baum's world of Oz. Detailed and rich this is evocative and draws you in instantly. A great reading too.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Craig
    Denny, United Kingdom
    6/22/09
    Overall
    "Hard Going"

    I found this audiobook really hard going and it turned into more of a chore than a pleasure, i found that the story was really hard to keep track off at places moving to quickly and at others dragging out. Overall I didn't really enjoy this book and wouldn't recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Adrian
    1/2/10
    Overall
    "A nice twist"

    I love anything that gives a new twist to an established classic and Wicked didn't dissapoint. It's just unfortunate that it is keeping company with the Musical Version which to my mind was it's better is terms of characterisation, plot and twists. It just didn't seem as neat and clever as the musical but well worth a read!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    7/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A real twist"

    To hear how the wicked witch became wicked is a real twist on the yellow brick road story we all live Julie Garland for. It also makes you question who was actually good and who was bad. The book does drag in places and sometimes it was a little difficult to keep up with all the names but it was well worth it. I do have one question - what happened to Nanny?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Olly
    6/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story, dull presentation"

    Struggle to finish this amazing story as the reader was dull and monotone. Let down

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ollie Crook
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great audiobook"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I've always loved the book Wicked, and listening to it as an audiobook was a new experience entirely. I would recommend this to a friend as it really makes the story come alive.


    What other book might you compare Wicked to, and why?

    I don't think you can really compare Wicked to anything - it's a reworking of The Wizard of Oz, making a child's story into an adult novel.


    What about John McDonough’s performance did you like?

    The narrators pacing was very good, and he got the humor of the book well - be prepared for a few snorts of laughter when listening! There were lots of characters who's voices he managed to make individual and memorable, so you can recognise them.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The ending of course is memorable, and with the narrators pacing he manages to make it moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I had already read Wicked before listening to the audiobook, and I would definatly recommend it! It really brings the book to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nya H
    UK
    4/15/13
    Overall
    "Keep listening"

    This book starts off quite weird and you have to keep ploughing through, until you get to the good part. Im not sure I would have pursued it if i hadnt have seen the play and knew the story line. - its a prequel to the wizard of oz. That in itself was enough to keep me listening. How the wicked witch became wicked

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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