Wicked by Gregory Maguire - In Baum's land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil. From Goodreads
Having fell in love with Wicked the musical, I have been so intrigued to read the book it was based on. Although I really enjoyed Wicked, it wasn't what I expected.
The musical doesn't have much in common with the book. It takes the basic plot, but twists so many things, and doesn't go into much details. The book is very political, and the witch - Elphaba - is mostly a political activist. She is called wicked by the other side, but both - though loosely for some - are doing what they feel is right. Right for Oz.
Being a witch, you would expect her to have some magic, but she doesn't have any at all. Everything she does is practical not magical. She ends up with a spell book, and does some experiments with it towards the end of the book, but there is no real magic from either wicked witch in Wicked at all. Glinda has some aptitude for magic, and we know she does well in the subject when studying it, but we never really see anything you would expect.
At it's heart, Wicked is a sad and tragic story of someone who had strong opinion and morals, fought for what she believed in, and paid for it at every turn. Elphaba is such a strong woman, someone I really admired. She didn't give up, no matter what happened, no matter how many times she was knocked down. They just made her more determined to do what was right.
Wicked is a very wordy book, and feels quite literary. A dictionary was very much required more times than I could count. The style took some getting used to, but it made the story feel more credible. The Wizard of Oz is a classic, and Wicked is a classic retelling - it definitely keeps the classic vibe. And it's amazing how Maguire took a children's story, and expanded it so much to make an intricate and believable adult story, while still sticking to what we know of The Wizard of Oz. Fantastic!
A really fantastic book! I'm so looking forward to reading the sequel, The Son of a Witch!
Published: 11th September 2006
Gregory Maguire's Website