Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wicked - Gregory Macguire

I went to see the musical Wicked for my friend's birthday celebration in December last year, it was a week before Christmas and I absolutely loved it, and that's just the start of how much I liked it. I loved the songs, the storyline, the characters - everything. It took me 2 months to get the songs out my head.

My copy was borrowed from my friend, but actually bought by me a week before our outing when the day before she had told me about the storyline and the book. I bought it for about £1.49 in a charity shop nearby.

Synopsis: Years before Dorothy and her dog crash-land, another little girl makes her presence known in Oz. This girl, Elphaba, is born with emerald-green skin -- no easy burden in a land as mean and poor as Oz, where superstition and magic are not strong enough to explain or to overcome the natural disasters of flood and famine. But Elphaba is smart, and by the time she enters the university in Shiz, she becomes a member of a charmed circle of Oz' most promising young citizens.
Elphaba's Oz is no utopia. The Wizard's secret police are everywhere. Animals -- those creatures with voices, souls and minds -- are threatened with exile. Young Elphaba, green and wild and misunderstood, is determined to protect the Animals -- even it means combating the mysterious Wizard, even if it means risking her single chance at romance. Even wiser in guilt and sorrow, she can find herself grateful when the world declares her a witch. And she can even make herself glad for that young girl from Kansas.

Review: I so wanted to love this book, to be amazed by the world of Oz, to see the teenage years of the Good and Bad Witches and to find out who all these people actually are. I was so looking forward to that when I started reading this book. 

First thing first. Anyone seen the theatre performance? You have? Well, you're not going to enjoy this book. 
Haven't seen the musical but are DYING to see it? Read this now.

It is one of 'those' books. The friend I borrowed it from read this book before seeing the show and loved both. I, on the other hand, have seen the show before reading the book and did not enjoy it very much. I'm not saying DON'T READ THIS BOOK, no I certainly am not, but be careful about your judgements when you do. 
The start is well, average. There's nothing thrilling or amazing and to be honest, I got bored and wanted some action. Which never happened. 
It wasn't until Galinda started narrating that things got interesting, which then went all down hill again when Boq took over. I feel bad for not liking this book but I just did not enjoy it. And I have a secret....

I didn't finish the book

That makes me feel worse. I've been reading this book for 3 weeks and I felt I had made no progress and didn't like the book anyway, I was reading it constantly and I realised last night that I was only on page 306...out of nearly 495. So I threw the book across the room and gave up and grumbled upstairs to find another more interesting book. The book just made me hate reading and hate being a blogger. Two things I love doing at the moment - it wasn't doing much for my stress levels and blood pressure. I'm glad I did...and I'm not glad I did.

Let's get to the root of the problem. The characters are all very different, even minor characters. You can tell which ones are the goodies and baddies straight away. The storyline is well...complicated. I think part of the problem is that Gregory Maguire talks on and on and on about everything and adds really unrelavant bits which I couldn't care less about. He reminded me of Jane Austen where I have no idea what he's rattling on about. 
The plot is very very different from the show and there are different characters in it that aren't in the show and vice versa. There are also different relationships with one another e.g. in the show Fiyero and Galinda are really good friends when in the book, they hardly talk when you are with them. They're both there - but there are no personal conversations. 
The book challenges some of the Wizard of Oz story and of course, the stereotype of the bad witch. The writing is good and fluent, although there are some very...interesting 'adult' scenes which I was cringing to myself at. It's, erm, quite detailed. 

What annoyed me what that the world they were in was basically Earth but with magic. The Land of Oz is supposed to be completely different without things like coffee or wine. I mean, they call Dorothy an alien, but they act the same as her so can't really say that! It says on the front that it is a best-seller and it probably was as it is so different but, then the show came along and it probably went down hit from then.

I am quite stuck with this one actually and I'm sorry, this isn't a thrilling review. This book is great to tackle the stereotypes that society makes and has made for years, it also gives a sense of what another civilisation that isn't our own would be like, maybe in some far galaxy.
Verdict: Read if you haven't seen it before, it is a good book for those who haven't. Give a wide birth of you have seen the show.

I give it 3 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 495
Publisher: Headline Review
Challenges: None


  1. I've heard from a few people who LOVED the musical that the book is terrible, so while I was curious I decided not to bother. I've seen the musical four times, that's enough for me :-D

  2. ha, yep, Stay well away from this book then :)


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