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)
From reading the reviews, this looks like a book that few are lukewarm about. Listeners either really loved it or really hated it! I'm of the group who loved it. And I feel compelled to say so after writing a negative review of the disappointing sequel Son of a Witch. I didn't truly appreciate John McDonough's excellent narration until listening to the author narrate the sequel. No comparison.
I'll admit that I didn't take to the story right away. It took about an hour. But a person driving a long distance is a captive audience and by the time Elphaba got to Shiz I was hooked. It's an odd story that takes place in an odd place and is certainly not for everyone. But it was for me.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
Yes, I'm taken with this novel. Humor, intrigue, and overall a good story. It's not the type of book I'm typically drawn to, but this time I'm glad I was.
This book had a profound effect on me. I will never be able to think of The Wizard of Oz, especially the wicked witch, in the same way. My heart goes out to Elphaba.
Wicked is wonderfully written and the narration excellent. I found myself eager to get back to it whenever I had to stop. This reimagined story is so much more believable than any other I have come across. It is well worth the time. And I would listen to it again.
Management consultant, video game player, avid reader of all types of books, and happily married father of four. I'll read just about anything, from Fantasy and SciFi, to mysteries and ChickLit.
A fresh concept - take a common childhood tale, and tell the story behind the story. Talk about the motivations and the story behind some of the non-core characters, and best of all, turn the concepts of good and evil upside down.
Wicked starts off well enough, with the birth of the Wicked Witch of the West to an ordinary enough family, with a bored, unfaithful heiress as a mother, and a stiff boore of a minister as a father. The story quickly deviates from the expected with its exploration of adult themes, ribald humour, and extensive political commentary.
Oz loses much of its magic, with the magic made mundane through its commonality and ultimate futility - in fact, magic doesn't play much of a role at all in the book.
However, as the book starts to move towards the familiar plotline of the Wizard of Oz, there is a feeling of events rushing headlong to inevitability. The reckless, but lovable character of Elpheba (the witch) strangely disappears, to be replaced by an almost characterless stereotype. Many lovingly developed characters, such as Glinda and Fiuro, are essentially tossed into the trashbin.
Ultimately, the story leaves us wondering still about the motivations of some of the characters, so fails as an expose of these events. It definitely left me scratching my head at the unresolved plot points.
Also, there is a common theme of homosexual tension throughout the book, which felt artificially inserted unnecessarily. I certainly understood the context, but it just didn't seem to make sense.
A good read, but disappointing in the end.
This story is dark, sarcastic, funny, sad, and, at times, racy, with a seductive (and surprising) beginning, climax, and end. Maguire's characters were engaging and as a listener, I felt like I connected with not only Elphaba, but all of the colorful cast. The narrator made the storytelling fun and hard to put away (he's a close second to Josephine Bailey). I'm already into my second listen. Be warned... this is nothing like the musical, but you won't be disappointed.
I've been a Wizard of Oz fan for far too many years to count, and a couple of years ago had the opportunity to enjoy Wicked on the London stage. I was very excited to find the audiobook here on Audible, as it goes into so much more rich detail than could ever be delivered in the stage version. Don't get me wrong, both were awesome, but the audiobook just delivered so much more and kept me enthralled for hours at a time. I literally could not wait to listen to more!
I'd heard so much about the book, I'd built up wonderful expectations for it. I did enjoy the listen, but I am quite disappointed in the novel overall.
First, I have to say the narrator was absolutely wonderful. The quality of voice and character was delightful, and I never tired of hearing him.
The story captivated me for about the first 2/3 and then started losing focus and the characters seemed to tumble out of control. By the end, I had absolutely no idea what the point had been. I had fallen in absolute love with Elphaba, and felt that her character was completely abandoned by the author in the last act. Some of the character turns were unpleasant, but necessary; others seem completely random and confusing.
Plot devices were introduced in the beginning, and then abandoned until the absolute end, when they addressed in a peculiarly obscure fashion, answering virtually none of the questions that were the basis of the story.
Since I have already purchased "Son of a Witch", I can only hope that the questions left unanswered are addressed there, and that its characters are treated with more care.
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.
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.
A bit of history of the well known Oz.. but VERY little... subtly tied to Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion and Scarecrow and of course, the Emerald City and the Wizard. This book has a hint of the obscure land of Oz where different cultures co-exist, magic is an accepted talent, and the land is ruled by religious zealots, religious heresy, and fear. The awful green child grows to become a beautiful independent thinking, strong-willed young woman. The well-known beautiful Glenda, her ex-roommate during her college days at a University where 'animals' are both Professors and barnyard pets.
An interesting suggestion that the 'wicked witch' was not wicked at all and simply assumed the role that whispers thrust upon her during her quest to do the righteous thing confessing to her murdered lover's widow. A touch of sex, rebellion, mysticism and destiny. Not at all like the Broadway musical by the same name...a bit unnerving but a must finish ending.
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