I recently got done reading Wicked for book club, and was SUPER EXCITED to talk about it. I’ve read the original Wizard of Oz and I’m an American so I’ve obviously seen the movie approximately 1548443456 times, BUT I’ve never seen the Wicked musical. So I was coming into reading this book from an interesting place. It gave me a surplus of feelings regarding the story, and I was super engaged while I was reading and even gave the book some serious thought after I was finished (even though I’m also working through Game of Thrones right now). BUT book club was supposed to be last night and it was cancelled due to one of our member’s weddings being next Saturday (I’m MoH! So exciting!!) and her being super stressed and having too much to do). I did still have one of the girls over for a regular hangout session, but we had our boys and our dogs with us, so we took pity on them and didn’t discuss the book, much to my dismay. SO SAD FOR ME, LOOK AT MY FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS AND FEEL BAD FOR ME. Ahem. Anyways. We did reschedule, but since we’re apparently now adults with schedules and stuff, we aren’t getting together for like THREE WEEKS, which is super unacceptable for me and my opinions about this book. So, I’m going to have to let some of those feelings out here. Sorry this is a bit long; like I said, I had a lot of feelings about this book and was raring to get them off my chest when book club got cancelled. I did truly enjoy the book, but first up the few things that made it impossible for me to love love love it the way I thought I would based on people’s reviews (I’m not sure how many of those reviews were actually based on the book and how many were based on the musical, however):
- Nothing that had to do with the book itself, but due to a combination of circumstances (scheduling & financial) I took a new friend up on her offer to borrow the book rather than purchasing my own copy. Obviously, writing in my books is SUPER IMPORTANT to me, so it was incredibly annoying to try to read and not do that. I ended up taking notes on post its and sticking them into the various pages, hence the photo at the top of this post. So, sorry Gregory Maguire, but my inability to buy your book totally counts against you.
- OH MY GOD WE GET IT THESE PEOPLE HAVE CRAZY FREAKY SEX BECAUSE THEY’RE CRAZY FREAKY ADULTS AND THIS ISN’T THE OZ WE GREW UP WITH. Geez. I mean, OK. I’m not a prude and I’m totally OK with sex in books and whatever but I just honestly started feeling like it was contrived and put in there to further separate his work from Baum’s (and, of course, the movie) and it wasn’t necessary because his work stood on its own without the excess shock value.
OK, seriously, that’s probably all I disliked. I thought it was a really well done book. Now for my favorite parts:
- I felt it was super interesting how Maguire kept good and evil extra ambiguous – opening the book I assumed it was a straightforward defense of the Wicked witch, and I adored the fact that nothing was that simple.
- I thought it was ambitious to take Oz – which in Baum’s original book was a pretty simplistic land, suitable for a child’s understanding, and turn it into a pretty sophisticated, adult world. I thought he did a good job giving it a political and financial landscape, filling it out further than the paper-doll landscape Baum dropped Dorothy in.
- I loved, loved, loved, adored, cherished, etc, the relationships between Elphaba, Nessarose, and Glinda. Coming to the story from the mindset of The Wizard of Oz (book & movie) I was constantly expecting Elphaba and Nessarose to reconcile and Elphaba and Glinda to fall out, and I was entirely surprised by how dry and political it all turned out to be.
- In general, I loved how well drawn the characters were and how realistic their arcs were from where they started out to where they ended up – while I as the reader knew where they were going (or thought I did, anyway), I never had a sense of anything being forced or jammed into place.
- I loved that he provided an almost entirely alternate version of events once Dorothy was introduced, rather than trying to shoehorn his character into Baum’s version of events. It played nicely with his version of Oz as a highly political place as well as provided a much better ending than I think he was otherwise set up for.
So, those are my thoughts about Wicked. Have you read it? Agree? Not? Think I missed the damn point?