Synopsis of Wicked by Gregory Maguire
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?
Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
My Review of Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Wicked has been on my to-read list for many years. I’ve never seen the musical, but I am very familiar with it’s story and with the soundtrack, and I read Son of a Witch (the second book in this series) a very long time ago. I’m pretty sure I’ll read it again now that I’ve read Wicked, and since it’s been so long since I last did.
I have heard many mixed reviews about this book. It seems that people I know either love it, or they hate it, there isn’t a lot of middle ground. Most love it, but there are a few here and there that it was unsettling for, and I can understand why after reading it. However, I quite enjoyed it.
Gregory McGuire spins a very in-depth tale filled with so many creative story lines and characters that you can’t help but become enthralled from the beginning of the book. How can you not when he’s built on a classic such as the Wizard of Oz and is giving you a great look at so many characters the beloved movie missed or just passed over? Don’t you want to know why the Wicked Witch of the West is wicked? Or why Glinda is just so dang good? Or is she even? What about the Wicked Witch of the East? You hardly know anything about her in the Wizard of Oz because she dies right away, but how about learning about her and her real name and story? Don’t you want to learn about Nessa Rose? Do you want to learn how the flying monkeys came to be? Or whether the witch ever knew love in her lifetime? Spoiler-you do.
There were so many different political things that he brings out in this story that mirror our own. So many things related to race-instead of skin color it’s type of being, though even there you find issues with skin color just as Glinda states she’d never be with Fiero because his skin is black. Gregory McGuire must have pulled much of his inspiration from our own troubled past.
If any of these things make you curious, or if you just love the story and want to expand on it-read this book. However, I will warn you of a few things.
First, Elpheba isn’t an all together lovable character. I mean you start out feeling pretty sorry for her and her circumstances, and you can understand why she’d become bitter with the way she was treated. Then you kind of fall in love with her crazy charisma and the good she tries to do for a while… Then, she kind of loses it. Eventually by the end of the book you don’t really feel sorry for the fate she encounters at Dorothea’s hands. Though, even that interaction isn’t quite as you remember it from the original tale…
Second, if you are a person who needs to have things nice and wrapped up in tidy little bows-this book might drive you mad. Honestly, this is where the author loses a star on this book from me-so many things feel unfinished. There’s no real sense of finality on so many characters and story lines. Sometimes, they just end abruptly and you don’t really find out what happened. Most of the time you get a glimpse into it, but you don’t get the whole story and you’re left as maddeningly unknowing as Elphie is. But maybe that’s the point?
Anyway, long story short, read it. I highly recommend it and I enjoyed almost every second of it.
Also I listened to the audio book on this one, and the narrator-John McDonough-was fantastic.