Wicked by Gregory Maguire

 

FantasyWicked WickedGregory Maguire; Harper 2007WorldCatThe Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

About 40 years before Dorothy’s tornado blew her into the Land of Oz, green-skinned Elphaba was born. She already had teeth when she was born. The midwife found that out when her finger was bitten. Elphaba’s father was a missionary of the Unseen God. Her mother was a rich daughter married to a poor man. This is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West that Dorothy eventually melts.

As a toddler the green skinned girl avoids water. She is quiet for many years, and her first word is “Horror.” Her family lives in Munchkinland. Elphaba is introduced to Munchkins her age to help her learn to socialize. Nanny has to watch them all closely to prevent any accidents. Her sister is born a few years after her.

As an idealistic teen, Elphaba attends Shiz, the respected school for those who can read and who can afford it. Her roommate is Galinda. They don’t get along well, but manage to live fairly peacefully together. Elphie becomes more politically aware as she stays at Shiz. She is especially drawn up in the Animal rights movement. She becomes part of a close circle of friends, including Galinda (now Glinda) and her sister, who help with the problem. After her mentor is killed, the friends still gather.

The IT network guy at my work thinks Wicked is one of the funniest, best books he has read in a while. I picked it up on his recommendation. I, on the other hand, too often felt bogged down. Stories are dropped and picked up years later. At times Maguire winds around with his words, losing me in the process. I could read two or three paragraphs and not have really read them. But I could refocus in at the new spot and not feel like I’d missed anything.

The wicked witch is humanized, which is fine. We all know that the truth changes from person to person as their perception is examined. Using Elphaba’s viewpoint makes Wicked a fun book. I especially enjoyed the beginning as she was a toddler and young girl. It lost me as she got involved in the politics of Oz – not because it was political in tone. Instead, the writing seemed to mire down. It is almost as if Maguire had a clear picture of the small child and insecure young teen who became the Wicked Witch, but the rest of her life is not as distinct in his mind. This then makes the rest of the story foggier.

More books by Gregory Maguire

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