Friday, March 25, 2011


Gregory Maguire
406 pages
Publisher: Harper
Source: Barnes & Noble

You can read the Goodreads summary of this novel here.

Yeah, I got on this train late in the game seeing as how the first edition of this novel was published back in 1995, when I was eight years old.  Because of that it was off my radar until I got to high school and the Broadway show was produced.  For years I waffled off and on about reading it and it wasn't until I found it on sale at Barnes & Noble (buy two get one free table) that I finally took the plunge.  Even still, it sat around for a few months.

I went into this book knowing that many, many people have read it with high hopes and have ended up disappointed, actually really hating the novel.  Despite knowing that many people have been disappointed, I couldn't help think they must all be wrong.  Surely it's not that bad.  My copy says it's sold over four million copies, surely four million people can't be wrong!

Here I sit, having just finished the novel, dismayed that they weren't completely wrong.  I didn't hate or abhor it as other people have, but I'm not in love with it.  It wasn't until page 306 that the book redeemed itself for me; things got really interesting and made sense in the larger context of the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  That's what I'd been looking for all along!  Really, for me, the beginning was good, the middle was a struggle, and the ending was great.  That's why this book gets three stars from me.

One review I read claimed this novel was written at a fifth grade reading level.  It absolutely is not that easy of a novel to read.  Rarely in a book do I come across words that I don't know, but I came across quite a few in this novel, which I consider a good thing.  If I'd actually bothered to look the words up, I might have learned something!  A big plus.

Another pro - it's a fairytale retelling.  Who doesn't love a good fairytale retelling?  Although I wish there had been more focus on Baum's characters and less on Maguire's made up characters, like Elphie's parents.

On the other side of spectrum, I found parts of the plot confusing.  Although it must have been mentioned somewhere, I'm not sure how Elphie went from place to place.  I don't mean, did she walk or ride a horse, I mean what in her life spurred her arrival at the convent, or at least I think it was convent.  But I didn't miss so much that I didn't understand the plot as a whole, which was a relief.

What more can I say?  You will probably enjoy it if you're big on fantasy books and I did thoroughly enjoy the ending, which made it totally worth it for me.  If you're interested in reading Wicked, you can find it on my PaperBackSwap shelf.

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