Author: Gregory Maguire
Started: 15 May 2005
Finished: 30 May 2005
409 p / 16 d
I saw the musical of this a little over a year ago. It was great fun. Went with Brandy and Amy. Soon after I saw there was a book. I think I got copies as presents for a couple of people at one point or another. I knew that the book was darker and more political than the play, which while it had a few serious undertones if you looked for them, was basically a fun and lighthearted romp. One of the people I gave the book too was my teenage sister. I figured she'd like the political and animal rights bits... Oops, make that Animal rights. In any case, as I read the book the one thing I had NOT realized was different about the book was the sex. Yup, it has a bunch of sex. Including with Animals. And I gave it to my 14 year old (at the time) sister. Oops. She read it long before I did and sent an email saying it was "interesting". :-)
Well, odd sexual bits aside, it definately was interesting. I like the whole idea of looking at a story from the side of one of the supporting characters. It is just a concept that gets my attention. First time I remember coming across that sort of thing was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. We read the play in high school. I think I saw the actual play once. Never saw the movie I just linked to. Anyway, it got my attention right away. I don't remember much of it, but I remember the concept.
It worked well with Bean in the second set of Ender books written from Bean's perspective. (I haven't read all of those yet though.)
Anyway, I like the concept. In this case, tell the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West. Who is she really? Why is she how she is? What leads up to the events we all know in the Wizard of Oz. I liked a lot of the excecution. It is much darker than the play, and I think in some ways TOO dark and serious and political. I like it darker and more serious, but at times I think it went a little too far than needed to make the point. I do like how it is all put together though, and was facinated by the investigation into the backstory.
The ending is of course COMPLETLY different from the play. The play's ending was a little cheesy, but the book just hammers the negativity down and down and down... the witch just fails at everything utterly, and it ends as it did in the original Oz. Very tragic, very sad. Poor witch. I'm OK with the unhappy ending itself, but what drives me nuts is the number of loose ends left open. Question after question after questions are raised, but then they are all left open and unresolved.
Of course, I guess that is part of the point. Still frustrating though.
I did like it though. The author has apperantly done a couple more of these. One on Cinderella and one on Snow White. I am tempted, but not sure I'll be jumping right on reading those. Maybe. I'll think about it a bit.
I do recommend reading Wicked. But if given a choice between the book and the musical, in this case I'd pick the musical. (Although it is a shame that Kristin Chenowith has moved on to bigger and better things. She was an increadible Galinda!)