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)
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!
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!
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.
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.
I found it really weird, but I really didn't care for this book. I love the play, and the idea is one of the best sounding out there to me, but the book itself has a talent of getting me mad and losing my interest. The aspects I didn't like are probably things that others wouldn't mind or would even love, but I couldn't help but be distracted by. I didn't even finish the first 7 hrs of the book, so for all I know, these things are different later on, and I'm only speaking for this section of the story. Anyway, I was distracted by the racism, the point of view shifts, and the incorporation of religion.
Firstly, the racism, I feel like could have been a wonderful facet to the story, but it was done in a way that I found inconsistent and unrelatable. Specifically with the Animals, there was very little said as to why the Animals are lesser creatures. The segregation seems weird because no one seems to think they are intellectually any lesser than humans, or if anyone does they don't say so, which I guess would make the segregation purely an aesthetic thing? Plus, in a college setting, where the thinking is generally more liberal and everything is questioned, the Animals debate is never mentioned. I know not everyone saw Animals as lesser, so why was there no division among the students even in just this aspect. Even when the story was being told by Boq, he didn't ever express any view on the segregation even though apparently Dillamond was his idol. I like seeing passion in a character, and having a crush on Galinda/Glinda is not good enough for me. It made him unrelatable and sort of two dimensional. Anyway, this is something I know I'm being picky about, and that didn't make this a bad story, it was just something that distracted me.
Secondly, I would get confused with who was telling the story and why. The point of view shifts from third person to first person (always the p.o.v. of a character I didn't care about) and I was distracted by this. I was also disappointed that the writer didn't take full advantage of the point of view switch and use it more for character development. It was like some outside person was writing a story from the point of view of a person they are observing and assuming thoughts that the person is having based on their actions. People think a lot more than the writer lets on and I felt like I couldn't understand any of the characters more than superficially. I know this is also me just being picky, but I felt like the switches made the story less fluid, and I didn't get the information I wanted that would make up for the awkwardness of the switch.
Lastly, and most importantly to me, the incorporation of religion. Now, I'm all for this, and all for fictional religions, but I didn't know what was going on here until the religions were explained by Frex and Nanny later on in the book while debating. This is a wonderful way of explaining things in a movie, but this isn't a movie. I didn't understand the significance of the clock at the beginning and why it was bad, why Frex was against it, why the people were so affected by it, and really what it was other than a prop. Since nothing was explained before Frex started showing action in his work, I had to assume that the religion was not made up and was possibly something like Catholicism or Christianity. But then the unnamed god was brought up, and the pleasure faith mentioned (which I had nothing really to compare to, other than maybe people who live life just for instant gratification and pleasure, but then, it didn't feel that way as it had a god itself which made me think this was inaccurate) and other actions confused me, like why he was so against the clock at the beginning. I really need someone to just name the main religions and just give a sentence or two on what they believe then I'd be able to understand what's going on better.
All in all, the reason I gave such a bad rating was because of the sequels. If this book was the only one in the series, I'd probably be able to finish it and still grumble about it a bit, but probably enjoy it overall. However, because of the sequels and because the writer apparently likes to leave some things unexplained until later makes me completely uninterested in finishing this book because I don't want to have to go on to the next books just to understand something in the first book. Overall, not completely terrible, but terrible for me personally.
This book was disturbing to say the least.
I was very shocked to find this book was completely full of disgusting sexual situations: Hermaphrodites, Bestiality, Homosexuality, etc. I will never read another one of his perverted books again.
The narrator does a good job.
Left me DEPRESSED.
If you love the Wizard of Oz I would caution you against reading this book. While the premise is actually very "clever" and the book well thought out, reading it left me rather depressed. I almost didn't make it through. My mom reading us the Oz stories from her own ancient copies of the book is a very happy childhood memory. For me the land of Oz should remain a pure and wonderful place that is not sullied by real world depravity, callousness, filth, bigotry, cruelty, and abject suffering. I am an adult and I do like adult themed books, but if you have any love of the pureness and innocence of the original OZ books, please think twice about reading WICKED. I wish I hadn't.
I imagine the stage show version is a bit more cleaned up and possibly more palatable.
I like realistic books that stretch the truth and the laws of physics...and also emotionally resonant narration that doesn't suck.
This is one of those "study in irony" books that examines the dichotomy between our ideas of good and bad and right and wrong, and reality. It was VERY lengthy, and I thought that much of that time could have been filled with more direct and reasonably ordered writing, but the writing was also very impressive in it's imaginative inventiveness and high, regal wording. I can't imagine an average person having the skill or patience to create such a work!
I'm more of a fan of sci-fi and fantasy-realism than cerebral questionings of reality, so I may be slightly biased in my review of Wicked because it wasn't QUITE what I expected it to be, even though it was still close enough to my favorite genres to impress me with its depth. I think that just a little more of a witty comedy edge would have rounded this story out into a less bleak and tedious whole, as was masterfully accomplished in a new rendition of the story of king leer, and I just know I'm not spelling that correctly, but the great new twist on that story is called "The Fool" (FANTASTIC read there, go drop a credit on it, you'll more than likely be pleased, no matter what you're into!)
All in all, I'd say that you should only buy this book if you really, really liked the play, just love a good long story that entertains And makes you think, if you're highly appreciative of fine use of the English language, if you have an aversion to genre fiction but want some fantasy in your life, or if you've got an especially long trip ahead of you and you're looking for some distraction.
I love the world of Oz. I had heard a lot of buzz about the musical "Wicked" so was interested in the concept of "from the Wicked Witch's side". I have started this twice and between the boring voice and the storyline that I just can not begin to get interested in I have not been able to get past the first few chapters. Not worth the time or credit, in my opinion.
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.
Make his characters more likeable and more 3-dimensional.
No. Choosing a male actor to narrate a piece with mostly female protagonists doesn't make sense.
Only to never read another Maguire novel.
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.
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