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Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West (2015)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (2015)

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3.49 of 5 Votes: 4
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0060987103 (ISBN13: 9780060987107)

About book Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West (2015)

I love my physical edition of this novel...while the reading experience wasn't as good as always thought that it would be.A thing that I got amazed when I started to "label" this book, in the process of my review, in my virtual shelves of Goodreads was how many different genres the novel touches... Politics, Religion, Romance, Humor, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery and even Espionage.And I was very tempted to select Military too but I opted not.And certainly the mood and themes of the story embraces all those genres and maybe more.I knew about this book series some years ago while I was researching about the topic of Oz in general and since then I thought that it could be good to read it.Some months ago (2013), by chance, I found this edition in a shelf of a local bookstore. I recognized the title of the book and I took it by impulse. The cover was gorgeous with the poster of the musical version BUT what stunned me was the detail that this particular edition has the edges of the pages colored in green...GREEN!!!Ah?! Honestly I can't think in something cooler to make irresistible this edition.Those marvelous green edges on the pages of the book sold me the novel right away and I couldn't took back the book on the shelf. Thanks goodness the wicked magic of the credit card allowed me to go out of the bookstore with the novel.Certainly when I started to read the book, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore! Geez! The Cowardly Lion and the Tin Woodman kiss their mothers with those filthy mouths?! The introduction of the book is like a slap to the readers to make them understand quick and hard that this is indeed an adult book.You know? I am not a prude, not in the least, but I think that Maguire made a hard effort to make sure that this will be an adult novel since I think that many of the issues touched here could work just the same without the need of some big words and sex scenes, while the drugs had to stay, hehehe, since indeed here the drugs played an important purpose on key moments.It was like well "since we have sex, drugs and rock n' roll (well no, no rock n' roll, really, not even on the musical version :P) this is a story for only we, the adults, sorry kids, you will have to keep busy with the Baum's cute books meanwhile you grow up some years."Well, C.S. Lewis said that any children's tale that it can't be enjoyed by adults just the same, it's a poor children's tale.So, facts of life... first, kids aren't dumb, they can understand heavy topics, even more the new generations that grow up with internet as nanny, and second, adults don't need sex, drugs and r... (you got it) to enjoy an intelligent story.Since this is a really smart tale, but maybe I had some expectations that affect my final rating of the book.First, there are really big "jumps" between the chapters and while there some unexpected turns and twists (that one can think that it's something good) but some of those twists were... ah? With him? Really? Geez! And romance left the building! Later, I really expected an explanation of how a person can turn to be evil or be seen as evil, but Elphaba turned out to be wicked not as evil but as crazy and for reasons really odd. Also, since the beginning there is something that I don't understand. Elphaba born with green skin, okay, HERE, in our beloved Kansas and the rest of the Earth around, it could be a real trouble but hey, they aren't in Kansas anymore, that's Oz, a land where animals can talk and people can do magic! How odd really can be a person with green skin over there? Honestly I could be more freak out for a talking goat or lion than watching a person with green skin. Also, the green skin resulted an odd issue again at some point, you see, Elphaba is in hiding, but hey, she is walking around the city... how good can be in hiding for "several" years if she is supposed to be the only woman with green skin in all Oz?! What? The Gale Force recluted colorblind people?! Geez! Also, I have my theories about the physical problem of Nessarose (Elphaba's sister) but since it wasn't approached beyond of being just a birth defect, I don't see the point of her problem. Even I think that the story was evolving quite fine until Maguire tried to put together his own story with the original story when Dorothy arrives to Oz. Besides all my complaints, the book is still a smart vessel to touch sensitive topics of politics, religion and social interaction without worrying to be subjected to harsh critique since he smartly uses characters and themes in Oz and you have to deduce those allegories on your own and at the end, they will be your own ideas and not necessarily what the author wanted to say.However, the book lacks of some action, all stuff happened in a very appeased tempo. Nevertheless, I want to try in the future, other books by Maguire, on this Wicked series and his other stand-alone novels based on retellings of classic children's books.

Read a book with nonhuman characters.2.5 stars "'Listen to me, sister,' she said. 'Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.'"I have never ever been more frustrated while reading a book. As most of you know from my continuous status updates describing my turmoil at my insistence that I NEVER EVER DNF anything, I had a really hard time getting into this one. It was boring and academic, and I would constantly find myself falling asleep while reading. Excuse me, Mr. Maguire, but when you want to market your book as fantasy, please give your book a plot. A real plot involving action and intrigue and drama. Not pages and pages and pages of description of political plots that make absolutely no sense. I wanted to like this book so much. SO MUCH. But it's such a case of an amazing premise being swallowed whole by an author's ambition and preoccupation with style.On the plus side, I really loved the character of Elphaba. She was strong and intelligent and never strayed from her values and beliefs. Her romance with Fiyero was very deep and realistically portrayed, and the emotions and feelings that tied into that relationship were my favorite part of the novel. And that's saying something because of me and my you know, cold black cynical heart. And the romantic subplot only lasted for maybe 40-50 pages of the entire novel but made the most lasting impression on me. Some of the supporting characters, such as Fiyero and Boq were interesting and dynamic enough also, but for the most part, the other characters were pretty flat.God, did I say how disappointing this novel was? Because there were moments of sheer brilliance within these pages, but most of the time I was just so effing bored. When Maguire was on, he was very on. And the satire and political and social commentary was so good and interesting and thought-provoking. Things like this: "The more civilized we become, the more horrendous our entertainments."And "'The real thing about evil,' said the Witch at the doorway, 'isn't any of what you said. You figure out one side of it--the human side, say--and the eternal side goes into shadow. Or, vice-versa. It's like the old saw: What does a dragon in its shell look like? Well no one can ever tell, for as soon as you break the shell to see, the dragon is no longer in its shell. The real disaster of this inquiry is that it is the nature of evil to be secret.'"But every single time I caught some brilliance here, it was countered by boring writing, lack of imagination, and bizarre world-building. I even read the original tale in order to get an idea of the original world this novel was built on, and I became even more confused by it. I am hoping that a read of Baum's other Oz tales may shed some more light on his rendering of Oz. I certainly hope so. There were people and events mentioned in this book that were never explained and that frustrated the hell out of me. If they aren't important to the story, WHY HAVE THEM TAKE UP SPACE? UGH!And seriously? The conflict between the witch and Dorothy was only because Glinda gave Dorothy the shoes that Elphaba wanted? And Elphaba only wanted them because her father made them and they were promised to her. Seriously??? Well, I have read this one and the original, and I loved Elphaba more than I ever loved Dorothy so, I kinda think that Dorothy's a bitch now. Take that, Judy Garland! You shoulda just given her the damn shoes.All in all, this book frustrated me and confused me and gave me a headache, but it wasn't all bad. There was some juicy meat, but Maguire's dry style of writing made it hard to get to. I have heard from several friends both on here and in real life that Son of a Witch is much much better than this one, so I think I will give it a shot at some point.And we all know what happens to the Wicked Witch, so the ending is not a spoiler, but I was upset nonetheless. Why do we have to hate on people who are different? Who stand up for themselves and for those who can't fight? Why do we love the beautiful and hate the ugly? Elphaba, you get on with your bad green self. You made this girl love you.

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My own peculiar obsession with The Wizard of Oz, in both its book and movie forms, was both a boon and, at times, a slight disadvantage to reading this book: since our culture's two primary references for the Oz story are so very different, Mr Maguire has a fascinating dilemma in trying to create a narrative that honors both, and is also something new. He does so brilliantly, re-imagining characters, places, and circumstances of the movie and the books (most notably the second one, The Land of Oz, in addition to the Wizard of Oz) into something remarkably new, with careful (but thankfully not slavish) fealty to the source material. The result is not only a very engaging story with well written characters, but a special treat for those of us who recognize some of the lesser of Baum's characters when Maguire reintroduces them (including Boq and Professor Nikidik) and leaves our imaginations to fill in the missing pieces that connect this story to the one we already know.My only problem was in reconciling the many differences of the two versions of the story. Maguire obviously faced similar challenges, and does a remarkable job of picking, choosing, and combining details to suit his needs. It kept me a little bit removed from the story, though, a little bit on edge, until I made a simple discovery: if we assume Wicked is the true account of these people, it is easy to see Baum's book as a considered literary version from a man used to re-telling and re-imagining popular fairy tales to children. It is likewise easy to see the MGM version as Hollywood's Technicolor extravaganza re-telling of the story, in which the colors are brighter and good and evil are never confused. Once I settled in to the willing suspension of disbelief that allowed Wicked to be the "truth," I could read this excellent book without being caught up in my head. And I was richly rewarded.

I hated this book. Maybe it was because I was expecting so much with all the hype, maybe because I thought the original idea was so great, whatever. End result, I freaking hated this book. This is a book that makes you want to sit down and re-write it yourself because it is such a shame that such a great idea was so mishandled. I loved the idea of delving into the witches and their past and seeing them from a different view point. I loved the idea of the politics of the different realms of OZ. There was so much source material to interpret in so many ways. But no - the biggest thing I hated was the timeline. It would start with the witches childhood and get really in depth into it - chapters of the family and their day to day lives and the family dynamic. And then it was like the author realized that if they continued on this way, the book would have to be a series and every book in it a tome. So the next thing you know, abruptly, he jumps forward in time. And the explanation of what happened in that gap is only briefly described - if that! It is so jarring. I also felt that the characters were fleshed out during those brief times, but after the jump, And then it would seem almost like they were different characters. Or a variation of the character you had come to know. If there were life altering events during the gap that changed the character's personality, you can't just skip it! Don't spend that much time making the reader get to know the character and then change them without showing how and why! I hated the way the author would spend enormous amounts of time describing certain places or characters or situations in a way that gave the reader the idea that it would be significant and play into the main story. Nope. Which makes you feel so unsatisfied. Imagine an entire chapter (and a long wordy one at that) devoted to a certain character or group of people and then then just drop out of the story completely. Where did they go? What happened to them? Why spend so much time on them to just go no where with it?? Also, after awhile, it really seemed like the author had a definite AGENDA and he spent so much time forcing the characters and the plot to fit that agenda, that it disrupted the flow and felt forced. I often felt like the characters wouldn't have acted that way - given his own description of them! I don't like being preached to. If you want to really write a political book with obvious leanings, then do so. But don't package it like this. And this book could have been a great vehicle for a basic statement on many different things - animal rights, our ideas of "others", our treatment of people different from ourselves, a broad idea of what is good and evil as opposed to what people often label good and evil - but didn't have to be so skewed to the author's personal beliefs. (Animal Farm, 1984, and many others come to mind - I really believe that this story COULD have had the potential to be a classic, had it not been so mishandled.) So many of these concepts were brought up and then abandoned. Or they were brought up and dealt with in a talky soliloquy, and without any real opposing view or anything. It was like the author was determined to present every possible political view he had and, one way or the other, force it into the story. But as he got writing and trying to actually write a STORY as opposed to an editorial opinion piece, he lost track of what he was saying or the point he was trying to make. So many themes and ideas were a complete mess. Not explained fully, explained too fully, so vague and complicated they were impossible to understand, or more often than not, forgotten altogether. I would have appreciated ANY resolution - even skewed to the author's opinions - rather than what he often offered, which is nothing. It also felt so smug and superior - it seemed like he referenced things for the sake of feeling smart or proving he was informed- like a college student mentioning Nietzsche in conversation, not because he really wants to discuss the ideas or whatever, but because it sounds smart and proves he's beyond such things as keggers. I just didn't like anything about this book. I stuck with it to the end, hoping that maybe things would change, or maybe things would come together in a way I didn't expect - but nope. I can only assume that it was so popular because of the interesting concept of the book or the fear to admit that they didn't get it or the broadway play - which I have heard is great and might better explain of the popularity of the book. (People loved the musical and bought the book thinking they would like that too.) Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
—Claire Greene

I don't even know where to start. This book -- actually, the concept of this book -- had so much promise. This could've been a great revisionist retelling of the Wizard of Oz. Yes, it fleshed out Oz itself - what a rich land, people by various creatures: humans, animals and everything in between. The political and religious strata of Oz was well-thought out.But I couldn't connect to any of the characters, especially the main character of Elphaba. I felt that none of them were fleshed out. None of them were likable, either in a positive or negative way. Sometimes, you're drawn to characters who are so evil because they're interesting. You become interested in their back story (and there is always one) and what makes them tick. Of course, almost everyone is drawn to the hero of the story, be they good or flawed, regardless of whether they're the hero-type or the underdog. But in my mind, while Elphaba was the center of the story, there was just nothing about her that drew me in, nothing that made me want to know her better. Nothing tugged at my heart strings or made me go "Grrr...I can't stand her!"Maguire proselytized. Ad nauseum. To the point where I saw no point in going further with the book. While I can see that this work would appeal to some people who revel in exposition and live and breathe religious and political polemic (there are die-hard Wicked fans out there -- of the book, I mean, which is significantly different from the musical, and that has a large fan base as well) but sad to say, I am not one of them (a fan of the book). I think there's a place for everything, and when I pick up a book that purports to be about the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West, I expect a fantastical backstory about her.And that's the thing. I know very little about her. She's green, but why is she green? She's got normal parents, but how did she become this freakish green baby with shark teeth? You know about her parents' dalliances, their religious fervor, their sexual proclivities, their societal vagaries. But you don't see how this shaped Elphaba. There are so many holes in the story, so many unanswered questions, and whenever I expected to find an answer, there were one or two vague, often nebulous, non-answers.The story meandered all over the place, dropping characters here and there into the narrative -- characters that (one hopes) will enrich the characterization of Elphaba's life. Sometimes they did; most times, they didn't. About a quarter of the way through, I wondered where this was all heading. About halfway through, I wanted to rip my hair out and beg for something -- anything -- to happen that would make me feel connected to our heroine or the story. But there was nothing. Not even a clock dragon to crawl into.This novel could've done so much. It held so much promise. So much. But it failed to deliver, and at least for me, it was a supreme letdown.

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