Friday, April 22, 2005

 

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

This novel tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from "The Wizard of Oz". It starts off with the witch overhearing the lion, scarecrow, tin man and Dorothy gossiping about her. It then delves back to the day she was born and tells her story from there. The first section of the book is about her first two years of her life. It describes who her parents are and their reaction to her colouring. It also explains the origins of her sister. More than that though, it describes the political background of Oz which is essential to the story. And it describes some of the religious beliefs. I have to admit that I didn't particularly enjoy this section of the book but most of it was essential to the rest of the book.

The next section sees Elphaba at school. For half of this it is seen from her room mate's, Glinda, point of view. It is later on on this section that we get to know Elphaba and we also meet her sister Nessarose. Up until then you are sure she is evil or at least you wonder in what way are you supposed to feel sorry for her. However, when she interacts with the other characters you begin to change your mind and find she is portrayed as very intelligent and feeling. The book then describes her life right up to her death. It describes all the things that came up in the film and how they came to be (eg the flying monkeys). All the way through you are waiting for the point in which she becomes evil.

This book is basically meant to make the reader see things from her point of view. It also shows that what we think of as evil completely depends on perspective. Until we see things from all sides we really shouldn't make a decision.

Despite a slow start I really did enjoy this book. It even gives the original story more depth and I wouldn't mind giving the book a try. What I would say though is be prepared for your view of the original to change. If you really don't want this to happen I wouldn't read it but then you never know, you might actually like it.

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