Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is the first book in a 4 part series from Gregory Maguire. This is a book I’ve had on my shelf for years and never quite got around to reading it until now.
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Wicked is a book about the Wicked Witch of the West, from The Wizard of Oz. Her side of the story, so to speak. Who was she before Dorothy’s house landed on her sister? The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies. It is timeless and I can watch it over and over. Needless to say, when I found this book, I was intrigued!
Have you read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West? Come on in and let me tell you about it!
If you’re enjoying this review, feel free to read more about my favorite books.
About Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
This is the book that started it all! The basis for the smash hit Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Gregory Maguire’s breathtaking New York Times bestseller Wicked views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker and greener (not rosier) lens.
Brilliantly inventive, Wicked offers us a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West who, as Maguire tells us, wasn’t nearly as Wicked as we imagined.
Thoughts on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Let me first say that Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is not a young adult book. There are sexual references and talk in the book, that I would not recommend for kids. It is very much an adult themed book, and should be treated as such. Many people who have seen the Broadway play adapted from the book run out and buy the book, only to be very surprised after reading.
I have enjoyed reading Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and I’m looking forward to starting the next book, Son Of A Witch. Gregory Maguire takes a lot of time to delve into the characters. Character development is so important in this kind of a book. I had a preconceived notion of what the Wicked Witch was supposed to be. Since this is “her side” of the story, the characters are vital.
My chief complaint with the character development in this story is that there is too much of it. Yes, it is important, as I just talked about. The biggest problem is when it is overdone, the plot gets lost in translation. When the plot is lost along the way, the story becomes tedious.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West bounces around in parts of Elphaba’s (The Wicked Witch) life, and isn’t the most cohesive account I’ve ever seen. It feels like the reader is left to guess what happens in the parts the author leaves out.
Elphaba is said to have started out life as a “good” person or child, and it was only after Dorothy’s house dropped on her sister that she became evil. Yet I don’t get that impression when reading the book. Religion and politics play a huge role in the book. That also contributes to the length of the book.
Elphaba’s father was a religious leader in his region of Oz. Yet Elphaba claims not to have a soul, dropped out of college to join an underground organization. She was basically a homegrown terrorist in her younger years. Not knowing who she “worked” for, just waiting for orders to do different missions or tasks.
Final Thoughts on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Toward the end is when the plot makes a real comeback and things get interesting. Elphaba is starting to be rumored to be a witch. Then the plot becomes part of what we all know from The Wizard of Oz, and it all starts to make some sense.
My recommendation for reading this book is to read it slowly. This isn’t a book that can be rushed, because it is simply too busy with too many names and characters to keep track of. Wicked took me longer than normal to read too. But I wanted to follow along with all of the characters.
Have you read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West from author Gregory Maguire, or any of the other books in the series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
About the Author
Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979-1985.
In 1987 he co-founded Children’s Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Purchasing Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
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