Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Harper Fiction)

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When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where 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. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

Customer Reviews:

  • Wicked's Shortcomings?
    First I saw the musical, and I enjoyed myself so much I wanted to read the book. I found that the book was very different from the musical, and if anything, made me appreciate the musical even more.

    The book is about Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. The events of the Witch's origins are interesting, however there were a few events in the book that I wanted clarification on - it is at these points in the book that Maguire ceases any discussion on the matter. The author skips ahead 5 years at a clip when you want to know more, whether it be from an omniscient source or from another characters perspective.

    Certain portions of the book I really enjoyed, and certain aspects I enjoyed as well - the religion and political issues for starters. Character development, in my opinion is not the strong suit of this book. Ancillary characters have the appropriate amount of development, but I felt that I UNDERSTOOD Elphaba at the end of the book about as well as other secondary characters. Her life is told from other characters perspectives, and rarely to you get a glimpse of her own convictions, and some of her life becomes confusing because of these issues....more info
  • Not what I expected at ALL
    The book isn't what I expected. I kind of expected a different twist on the Wicked Witch of the West...which it kind of was, but the author didn't really explain in depth what was going on. I was left with a ton of unanswered questions, and I'm not the type that enjoys trying to think of my own conclusions about the book. There's nothing in there about how the tin man was a victim of domestic violence, so I'm wondering why it's even on the back. It was also a very sexual book, which totally caught me offguard. There was some very descriptive parts of the book, including one particular part in which the author describes one of the characters having diarrhea. I'm not joking. I had to force myself to finish the book because there was no "grabbing" whatsoever. It's completely different than the play. I read the synopsis of the play and the play is more interesting than the book and also answers questions. I'd reccommend the play instead of the book....more info
  • huge disappointment
    It was very hard to get through this book!! To many unanswered questions and to many long drawn out boring descriptions. ...more info
  • They made a broadway musical out of this??
    I am halfway through this book, and was told its a little slow, yet so far it has not grasped me the way other similar fantasy books have. More to the point, how did they make a Broadway Musical out of this book? I guess I just don't get it!! ...more info
  • Nobody told me I was going to cry...
    In all the reviews I've read of this book, not one mentioned the searing sorrow poor Elphaba endures. Maybe I'm oversensitive, but I found myself really depressed after reading this story. The first couple of sections are very witty and sometimes very funny, but the book takes a more serious tone around the middle that nonetheless does not prepare the reader for the extraordinary heartache to follow. I'm glad I read it, because it is a (fairly) well-written book with a very original and interesting take on a classic, but I wish someone had warned me that it certainly isn't a lighthearted frolic. It isn't Elphaba who's wicked; it's the world she's forced to live in.

    ...more info
  • Be careful of your expectations...
    This disjointed story leaves many of it's more interesting thoughts unfinished and is basically a story of the people of Oz and their miserable, unlucky and depressing lives. While the author does a pretty good job of turning the Wicked Witch into a sympathetic character he seems to abandon all reason and character consistency to get her to the end we all know is coming.

    Hearing such glowing reviews of the Musical I mistakenly assumed the book from which the musical came would be at least as good. I love back stories on characters I am already familiar with. Then tend to give a more fulfilling appreciation of the story they originate from. Not so in Wicked.

    I was very disappointed with this book and found the only way to get past the first few chapters was to stop caring about any of the characters and where the story was going, or not going, as the case may be.

    Sadly I was left with a bad and unfulfilled taste in my mouth. As much as I might be interested in the back story of Oz I think I will leave it to my imagination rather than picking up one of these books again....more info
  • Could have been a great novel....
    I feel rather guilty that I didn't enjoy this book, "Wicked", which is, after all, a bestseller with multiple sequels and a hit Broadway Play based upon it.
    I could see what the author was attempting, and for the first half of the novel I felt he did create a new, wonderful and believable world based upon the land of Oz, which in turn was based upon the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" starring Judy Garland (and not the much older and less read "Wizard of Oz" series by L. Frank Baum). The world of Oz has many different races and cultures, including, of course, the Munchkins and others, it has talking and intelligent animals, of which the Cowardly Lion was only one, and it has a useless wasteful Nobility, as well as peasants and religious conflicts. It is led by an evil dictator...I don't want to go further on the plot...
    The second half of the book, in my opinion, began to lose steam. The author seemed to me to be having a hard time wrapping up all the subplots and multiple characters, and also in making the wicked witch actually "wicked". I finished it feeling dissatisfied and disappointed, because I do feel the concept behind the novel was excellent and creative, simply not quite made to work....more info
  • Really Really Bad
    I'm afraid I can't even spend enough time writing an in depth review of this book because I am just so glad to be done with it. I just wanted to add my vote to the one star side of the amazon spectrum. I can't believe the hype this book got away with. ah well. I was so disappointed, I wanted it to be a good book, but it was a horrible, unintelligible collection of drivel. boo. My sister kept advising that I quit trying to finish it. "The ending isn't any better than the rest of it" she kept telling me. And she was right. I didn't like any of the characters, they never meant anything to me. The plot was so disjointed and random, I have serious concerns about the author and his mental health. I am so happy that my life can now go on, and I can focus on new reading material. Ugh. ...more info
  • Not my cup of tea...
    I really wanted to like this book. The concept is intriguing and the book has been met with great critical success for the most part. It appears to be a very divisive book - either you love it or hate it. I can't say I hated it but I can say I didn't finish it and I read over half of it which is very unusual for me. Usually if I read that far into a book I will complete it.

    In my opinion, the author attempted to cover too much territory - everything from politics to religion to huma...more I really wanted to like this book. The concept is intriguing and the book has been met with great critical success for the most part. It appears to be a very divisive book - either you love it or hate it. I can't say I hated it but I can say I didn't finish it and I read over half of it which is very unusual for me. Usually if I read that far into a book I will complete it.

    In my opinion, the author attempted to cover too much territory - everything from politics to religion to human rights to the nature of evil... the list seemingly without end and none of the trains of thought - worthy though they may be - stay on track and many get derailed. Disappointing at best for me I'm afraid. ...more info
  • Required reading for Wizard of Oz fans
    Have you ever wondered how Oz became the land it is? How the ruby red slippers made it onto the Wicked Witch (WW) of the East's feet, and why the WW of the West wants them so badly after Dorothy commits at the very least manslaughter. Well, with brilliantly detailed prose, Gregory Maguire fills in the holes of the land of Oz with his book, Wicked.

    Ambitiously telling the tale of Elphaba, who eventually becomes the WW of the West, is no small feat. From a cursed birth with green skin, and born to an infidelitous mother, she nonetheless attempts to be wholesome contributor to her world. She attends college at Shiz University where destiny pairs her up with a rich, privileged roommate named Galinda. Facing blatant discrimination, even from Galinda, she realizes that others face larger struggles, and involves herself with the ongoing government intolerance towards the sentient A(a)nimals of Oz (which led to Galinda morphing her name into Glinda).

    Through exquisite detail, no stone is left unturned throughout the life of Elphaba. There is always more than one side of the story, and Maguire beautifully expands upon not only Elphaba's rise to infamy, but also the surrounding characters who influenced her life and led her towards a seemingly evil finale. Maguire does an even better job of adding depth to the land of Oz, detailing its undulating landscape, corrupt politics, and social/cultural divide.

    It's a brilliant prequel to a classic that challenges a reader's perception and understanding of what was taken as gospel in The Wizard of Oz. Why is Glinda good? Why was the yellow brick road built? How did Elphaba become "evil"? From beginning to end, this book is immensely enjoyable, and highly deserving of its popularity. Fast-paced and entertaining, this is a must read for any Wizard of Oz fan....more info
  • Not a good bedtime story...
    I bought the book Wicked on CD and could not get very far with it. I tried listening to it at night at the same time as I would ordinarily read, before bedtime. At one point, there was a description given that just thoroughly turned me off having to do with the time clock and an incestuous sexual imagining/accusation used to incite people to violence against a family. This was not an image or idea I wanted in my mind while drifting off to sleep. I saw the play awhile back and enjoyed it,and I do not recall imagery as off-putting in it as what was in the book. I think stories are often made more palatable when put into a musical format. I do think that creating an alternate story for The Wizard of Oz was a fantastic idea, and the story that the author did create in Wicked is a good one. However, I would not recommend the audiobook since I wasn't able to get to what I know is good about the story....more info
  • What makes a person 'wicked'? And who's to judge?
    Well, I finally delved into the raging world of Wicked. Admittedly, I had previous experience with the Broadway storyline, but hadn't so much as looked at the books until recently. Though I expected the tone to be similar, I found myself pleasantly surprised when the musical and novel were vastly different. Especially in that the musical has removed most political and dark themes, which are exactly what the novel thrives on!

    Maguire's Wicked is quite ambitious! Maguire wanted to delve into fairly deep introspective questions and political observations all while toying with a well-loved premise from L. Frank Baum's original Wizard of Oz world. In some parts, Maguire fails and in other ways he not only meets expectations, but surpasses into the realm of greatness.

    Plot: 3.5/5
    Wicked is the story of Elphaba, better known (to those not initiated in Wicked) as the Wicked Witch of the West. A primary question to the story is--how does one become wicked and who's to judge if they are actually 'wicked'? Thus, Maguire thrusts a green-skinned little girl into his fantasy world amidst a family that offers her little support. Though Elphaba's childhood is rough, as she grows she picks up different causes such as Animal rights, political activism (terrorism) against the tyrant-wizard, and atheism. By far the more interesting parts of Wicked take place before Elphaba leaves her university, Shiz, as Maguire seems to flounder a little after she gains freedom--hence the docked score in this particular category. Particularly, Maguire skips over a few untied threads with Animal rights and Elphaba's ascension into becoming an actual witch...

    Characters: 3.5/5
    The characters are strongly developed--so long as one's referring to Elphaba. Or, perhaps, Nessarose, Fiyero, or Glinda. All other characters get less consideration and usually serve only to drive home a point that Maguire wants to make.

    Writing: 3.75/5
    Maguire's writing was phenomenal, mostly. I could rave about his beautiful paragraphs; however, being better able to remember why I wouldn't grant a higher score is apart of my nature. Several times, I had to reference the dictionary (and I'm no vocabulary slouch, mind you). After referencing dear Webster, I would only frown and say, "That doesn't seem to fit that well, really" or "...did we really need to use such an obscure reference to the color green?". Thankfully, outside those handful of times (though annoying) he kept his writing fairly unpretentious. Another irritation was that sometimes Maguire would try a little too hard to force a point, especially political. When a light tap is all that's needed, one does not break out the sledgehammer, Mr. Maguire. The only other major bone I have to pick is in the last third of the book all events seemed to be nearly skimmed over, they moved so quickly. A lot of the lovely detail and thought from the first parts were lost. Otherwise, completely outstanding writing, truly.

    Originality: 4.25/5
    Despite having spawned from someone else's idea, Wicked is delightfully original. Maguire packs in his own questions, asserts his contrary view, and wreaks a lovely havoc all through the novel.

    Book Cover: 5/5
    The covers of Wicked are amazing. Whether you find the cream-colored cover with the beautiful illustration of the Wicked Witch of the West behind or the striking green cover shown above, the designers should be proud that they managed to make the book so eye-catching.

    Final Score: 4/5
    Truly a book that I recommend trying especially to lovers of fantasy or Oz. ...more info
  • not so great
    I'm still reading the book, I'm half way through and I'm surprised it's so bad...Actually I have to say it's boring. Very boring...YAWN!....I can't get myself to pick it up and continue. I really had high hopes for it but the right now I'm in the college years and I'm yet to get to the peak or close to the peak of the story.

    I think this book is riding on the success of THE WIZARD OF OZ story otherwise the storytelling is very poor....more info
  • Great premise, terrible execution.
    The only reason I even gave this book 1 star, let alone 2, is that it was the basis for the very charming and enjoyable Broadway play. Otherwise the book is just terrible. Maguire has created a wonderful plot line but he bogs it down with so much political detail that it just makes for a boring book to read. I managed to get through the first section and then gave up because I just didn't care anymore....more info
  • All Too Human
    This story will linger with me for quite awhile. It far exceeded my expectations... complex, rich and utterly deserving to be considered on its own terms apart from the traditional Oz canon. Elphaba (the erstwhile "Wicked Witch of the West") now ranks among my favorite literary protagonists... flawed, ultimately tragic, but consistently sympathetic and many times admirable. The world she inhabits is no happy fairy-land, especially under the callous hand of the alien Wizard, and the choices she makes in her journey from awkward youth to fractured adult are an understandable reaction to that world. As the idealistic champion of the rights of Animals (distinct from animals, in one of the most interesting aspects of this Oz) she is praiseworthy; as the embattled survivor of one too many murders she is someone, at the very least, for whom the reader can feel compassion. This complexity, intermingled with her desire to be loved and to be forgiven, renders Elphaba's transformation into wickedness a multidimensional experience that proves to be a quite satisfying human tale. The final scene of the novel is haunting and utterly right. I enthusiastically recommend this book without hesitation....more info
  • Great book
    I just love this book. I love knowing more about the Wicked Witch of the West. ...more info
  • Wicked
    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Harper Fiction)
    I did not like the book at all. I made myself read it....more info
  • Disappointing
    I so very much wanted to like this book...and I kept trying all the way through it. I came into it with no particular expectations; I'm not one of those who expected a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz nor am I in love with the OZ books (although I have read several of them). Even though Wicked is a "literary" work, it was readable and it wasn't difficult to follow the plot. But somehow it just didn't work. We get to see sections of the life of the titular character but each section seemed to be describing a different individual. Her very personality and even the way she reacted to other people changed in fundamental ways.

    And it was boring. Just when I started to care about the characters, we'd jump a few years into the next section of her life and I more or less had to start all over again. The result was a perpetual feeling of "let's get on with it." When I start to daydream about books I've read in the past or would like to read next, I know I'm in trouble. But I stuck with it and it never got better. The book smacks of wanting to be a literary work of art but the author pads the plot with conflicting characterization. And I never felt the texture of the environment or story backdrops like I hope for when reading literary works. Great potential subject; flat execution....more info
  • this book needed years more of work
    Having just finished Wicked, I find consolation in the 1-star reviews. The author, with all his noble intentions, fails - like the poor Elphaba -in all of them. So much promise, and such an annoying and depressing result. ...more info
  • wicked: the life and times...
    If I could, I would probably give this book 3 and 1/2 stars, because I did like it. Maguire takes so much time and detail to create the land, and what we're seeing the characters doing. The structure and symbolism of the story is great too, and I'm sure if I read it over I could pick out even more layers in the plot.

    However, I had disagreements with a few things. First, was that the characters seemed a little flat--I didn't get a glimpse into their minds very often, and it was as if I was only being told what they were thinking instead of being shown so it could be more believable. I especially would have liked to get inside Elphaba's own thoughts more, rather than being told what she was planning.
    There was also a lot of year skippping, which wasn't so bad, but the use of that may have taken away from the story. And I can handle just about 'x-rated' scenes when they are relevant, but frankly, the bizarre one here seemed out of place and I only found myself disgusted by it. But that's just me.

    Overall I would say this story is entertaining and thought provoking, and worth reading aside from those complaints. I knew the book would be very different from the musical beforehand, so be aware of that also....more info
  • Great *adult* read (too sexy by half)
    I'm coming at this rather late (the Wicked wave having crested several years back) but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Wicked is the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West as told from a sympathetic point of view. Greg McGuire has woven a compelling story that , while not contradicting the familiar story lines of "The Wizard of Oz," certainly gives it a new spin. The WWW in "Wicked" is the deformed child of a failed preacher and a lonely mother, whose personality, while as sharp as her prowlike facial features, is more hurt than evil. Accustomed to being shut out, she develops a dislike for authority and finds herself at odds with the Wizard himself, seen through her eyes as a genocidal despot.

    "Wicked" gives us the dark side of Oz -- a land of industrial exploitation, racial prejudice, backwardness, religious turmoil and political intrigue. It is populated by talking animals, empty-headed social butterflies and nasty boarding school matrons. In spite of her sharp tongue, rude manners and irreligiosity, Elphaba Throp (WWW's given name) sees too clearly to be a comfortable friend. Knowing that an ordinary life as wife and mother is likely out of her reach due to her green skin, she strokes out in more dangerous directions.

    "Wicked" is mostly clever about the way Elphaba gathers the familiar accouterments of her screen namesake. It would spoil the book by telling how, but by the end of the book, the reader will have seen her slow transformation from a scorpion-tongued schoolgirl to the dark robed keeper of magic brooms, looking glasses and flying monkeys.

    The book does lag in places, notably a section about the politics of Oz and another related to Elphaba's flight from civilization. In addition, at some point, it becomes fairly clear (from elements) that Elphaba gathers around her) how the familiar Wizard of Oz characters -- like the flying monkeys that terrified me as a child -- will come to be. Other sections were a bit too spicy for me and *way* too sexy for any but the savviest high schoolers. Two sections stand out as quite uncomfortable -- the night at the Philosopher's club (an audience-interactive sex show) and a graphic description of a love affair. Film this movie as written and it would rate a solid R, if not an NC-17. Not the kind of book to give a young person who loved the tamer Broadway show.

    "Wicked" is compelling reading, written with wit, humor and sparkling prose. Bravo to Greg McGuire for re-imagining a familiar world and imbuing it for plausible features of our own. Bravo to John McDonough for a terrific narration of the audio book, giving the characters their own voice, and giving Elphaba the rough, petulant and wounded voice of her own....more info
  • Great idea, bad book
    When I first heard of the premise of this book, I thought, "Wow, what a great idea!" I still think it is a great idea for a book, however, this book was incredibly disappointing! Too many odd names and places which makes it difficult to follow. After reading 1/2 of this book, I took it to a used book store and made $1.50 off of it. I was tired of wasting my time reading it each night hoping the story would hook me. It never happened....more info
  • What is the hype??
    OK, I broke down and bought the book after all the hype. I cannot figure out what was so great about the story.

    The idea is the Elphaba is the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. But, the catch is she is not really that bad. Yes, she is green, has a temper, and a fear of water. But she is really not that wicked. The story starts out with her mother being a higher up that left the city to marry a preacher and live in the country, which she hates all of it. She does lover her husband but is sleeping with everyone that comes around. She believes that she gives birth to a monster and calls in her nanny to take care of her.

    The next part is about Elphaba at school. She does not fit in and has strong opinions about the great wizard of oz taking away the rights of Animals, animals that talk and such. You also meet her sister, Nessarose, who is a religion nut. With a turn of events, she leaves school and hides out at the Emerald City and doing basic terrorist activities.

    From there she has an affair with an old school mate. Guilty she leaves the Emerald City to find the unfortunate wife to beg for forgiveness for the affair.

    I have to say that it is a good story if it would have been shortened to 300 pages. There was so much detail about everything that I had a hard time sticking with the story. I also got a little confused on the quick change of moods of Elphaba. I could not understand what was the point of sending the flying monkeys after Dorothy, inviting her to dinner, then threatening her with a little broom. She was not a mood swing girl, she was psychotic.

    I have yet to figure out if it was work keeping or selling or even worth reading the next books in the series....more info
  • Truly Bizarre But Impossible to Put Down
    I suppose that if I was going to take a famous children's story and make an adult novel out of it, I'm not sure I would have chosen something based on the Wizard of Oz. Maybe "Blueberries for Sally," where it turns out that the missing father from the story had been killed in a gangland slaying years before, and the Mom and Sally were now hiding in the Maine countryside as part of the witness protection program. And Sally was actually the daughter of Al Capone, and so on...

    The Wizard of Oz as adult fiction?

    Strangely enough, it works. Without changing any of the existing rules, characters, or storylines from the children's stories, Gregory Maguire weaves a story told from the point of view of Elphaba, the much maligned and misnamed Wicked Witch, making her a sympathetic and ultimately pathetic character. In the end, knowing that one day she will encounter a lost girl from Kansas with a bucket of water named Dorothy, we begin to hope against hope that maybe somehow, in this version, she will escape her fate. But just like in the movie Titanic, where we know, no matter what, that the ship is going down, there is no stopping the inevitable. But like Titanic, what makes this story interesting is how Maguire gets us there.

    We even end up feeling sorry for the flying monkeys.

    I will not take the time to review the sequel: "Son of a Witch," separately. It was okay - maybe a weak three stars - but nowhere near as good as Wicked. Perhaps Maguire should have quit while he was still ahead, although I understand he is coming out with a third book, focusing on the Cowardly Lion, if it is not already published. Perhaps he may recapture the magic of Wicked in that effort.

    To summarize, Wicked is worth reading, first because it is a heck of a good story in its own right, and second because to my knowledge nothing like this has ever been done.

    Maybe we can look forward to George W Bush writing an adult version of "My Pet Goat" in his retirement. Or maybe Lynne Cheney can knock that out for us now that her husband is ostensibly retiring as well, since she has already dabbled in adult fiction. And if you're wondering what I mean by that, and are in need of a good laugh, go read the reviews for Lynne Cheney's first novel, "Sisters," published 20+ years ago, elsewhere on this Amazon site:


    ...more info
  • Read a different book!
    I finally finished the book and I thought giving birth to my children was easier than reading this book. There are plenty of authors who create worlds, civilizations, and characters that are so much more vivid and compelling than the ones created in this book. Was it a comment on politics or religions or WHAT?

    When I started the book, I thought it was strange, but I kept trying to be open-minded. So I read about the animals, Animals, the Unnamed God, Lurlina, the Kumbric Witch, Tik Tok religion, the Wizard, the Grimmerie, and the shoes. You are probably asking, "What does all of that mean?". Guess what, I am asking the same question and I read the book! I was waiting for all of these pieces and many more to be explained. Sadly,they were not. It felt like I put together a puzzle only to find out that the last few pieces are missing. This book was a HUGE disappointment. ...more info
  • Wicked Awesome!!
    "A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the win's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air. " The first line of the book draws you in and reminds you of a certain scene from "The Wizard of Oz." Born with green skin and very strange teeth, Elphaba grows up to be an animal-rights activist, a nun, then a nurse who tends the dying, and, ultimately, the headstrong Wicked Witch of the West in the Land of Oz. This story tells the back-story of the well-known tale of Dorothy with amazing details.
    By the end of the book, you can see exactly why certain things are the way that they are. The Munchkins didn't just love everyone they met, but their leader, the Eminent Thropp (Elphaba's sister Nessarose), also known as the Wicked Witch of the East, was just killed. Glinda was not always Elphaba's enemy, but was her roommate in college who charmed the ruby slippers herself to help Nessarose.
    I thought the book began and ended very strong and very well, but the story got a bit dryer in the middle, especially as Elphaba becomes a nun and travels rather boringly across the desert to the Vinkus stronghold of Kiamo Ko. The story is a bit boring for that bit, but picks up and gets rolling again when some more familiar characters, such as Nessarose, Elphaba's father, and Glinda, come back into the story. But, the story ends extremely well. It leads you perfectly into wanting to read the next story with a cliffhanger ending.
    I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of adventure. But then, I also give you a warning to hold on during the slower portions, because before you know it, the story is rolling along again! Maguire has created a whole new side to Oz so rich and vivid that you will never see the story the same way again....more info
  • thought provoking!
    Thought provoking, vocabulary stuffing, fun house mirror type look into Oz. Great read, along with Son of a Witch - much better than Broadway show! (sorry, NYC) Maguire also has a neat book that spoofs Cinderella and the 'wicked stepmother' and sisters - broaden your horizons and throw out your judgments on what you think happened!...more info
  • Loved it!
    This is a light entertaining read for adults. It is fun and clever. I needed a mind candy treat at the end of the day and this was perfect....more info
  • "Wicked"
    I am very disappointed with the service from this bookseller. I ordered this book in early March. The book wasn't available until 3/12. Today is 3/23 and I still haven't received the book. But, my credit card has been billed already.... ...more info
  • I struggled to keep reading it
    I recieved this book as a gift, along with tickets to see Wicked. I was so excited to start reading the book, until I actually started to read it. There was just way too many charecters to keep track of. When one of them died, I had to page back in the book to jog my memory on who in the heck it was. It took me 4 months to get through the book. I just found it rambling on & on. So needless to say, I was not excited to see the show after reading the book, but I was surprised. The show was great, the book sucked. If you are going to write a spinoff from one of the most loved movies of all time, thing should really be a little more accurate. I watched the Wizard of Oz again, and the book is inconsistant with the movie. It's a shame because I think this book had tons of potential but fell really flat....more info
  • Wicked
    spine was torn and worn, multiple pages folded back and torn. didn't think it was as good as advertised....more info
  • what is the point
    I decided to read this book prior to seeing the musical in San Francisco. I am forcing myself to complete reading the novel. The characters are diverse and lively, all different and unique in some way, but just not very interesting. What is the point? What is the main theme of this story? This is a very strange book; I am halfway through and still waiting for the 'AHA!' moment. What happened that caused Glinda to soften in her atitude toward Elphaba? I'm still trying to understand how Fiyero fell in love (or lust) with Elphaba and vice versa. I am anxious to see the show and compare it to the novel, although I really don't expect much strong linkage there....more info
  • I have never been so happy to finish a book!
    I was very excited about the idea of a story from the witch's point of view. I liked the very beginning of the story up until the time she went to school. Then it was all down hill from there! It became a job for me to even finish this book. All the extra stuff thrown in there was what I didn't care for. The story it self, the story of Elphaba and how she suffered through her life. The dealing with her family was really interesting. But all the Animal VS animal stuff really what was that all for? Leave all that and the sex stuff out and you have a great story. I liked the ending of the book and was so very pleased that it was over and I never have to read it again. I wouldn't even think of starting the second book. I would not suggest this book to anyone. ...more info
  • dark dismal story
    I found this story to be dark and depressing. I did manage to finish the book (I kept expecting it to get better), but I was very disappointed. The book does raise plenty of questions about evil and its possible sources. but evil is evil: whether it is a learned behavior or a maladaptive coping mechanism, evil is still evil. the story is like explaining why Hitler turned out so badly. who cares?! evil is still evil.

    ...more info
  • It was good.
    I enjoyed this book, but it is definitely an adult book. I would say that it is good to read with the perspective of it being a look at different political systems, much like the original Wizard of Oz book....more info
  • LOVED!!!
    If i could give this book more than 5 starts i would..Im in college and i would read this book b4 i would read my books for school.. Even though you know how the story is gonna end you cant stop reading..great book!!!!......more info
  • Couldn't be bothered to finish
    I had high hopes for this book, as I had heard so many good things about it. However, having gotten 100 pages into it (just about a quarter of the way through, as it was 406 long) and having absolutely no connection to any of the characters or concepts presented, I decided that I would rather spend my time reading something that I would actually enjoy.

    I can't entirely put my finger on what turned me off about the book, but I will say that the first portion - detailing the birth and infancy of Elphalba - honestly bored me to tears. It is well written to be sure, it just... wasn't... very... interesting.

    Perhaps it's because I really don't care too much for the Wizard of Oz in general - I somewhat doubt this, as the first two chunks of book that I read only tangentially dealt with anything I remember from the book/movie that inspired this....more info
  • Nice story, lacked character
    I liked the book Wicked. I thought it was creative and witty, but most importantly, I understood and cared about the main character Elphaba. She had purpose and a history, it was obvious how she turned out the way she did, and what motivated her. I felt the pain that she experienced, having green skin, watching her beloved sister Nessarose and later roommate Galinda receive all the affection. Despite all of that, or maybe because of it, she attempts to better the world around her, with me the reader following and rooting her on the whole way.

    The second book of the Wicked Years features her son Liir. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't really follow him. I believe the point of book two was to show a boy who was unsure of himself grow into a man. The problem for me was that Liir never seemed to find himself and the author left it up to me to find. Liir was always dancing on the edge of greatness, of purpose, but he seemed to stumble his way through all of his success. I didn't fall in love with the people he loved, and I didn't relate to the characters at all. I don't think Liir even figured out how he felt about his destiny. I found myself thinking "Liir, you stupid boy, you had better follow-up on your promises and do something with your life" Which he does, but I think more because of who his mom was than from personal conviction or growth. I am probably too hard on the boy, and yes, I can imagine an end to the book where Liir discovers who he wants to be, but McGuire leaves that completely up to my imagination.
    I hope McGuire can create another character as compelling as Elphaba... Liir wasn't it though.
    ...more info
  • Slow starter...
    I was given this book by a friend who simply loved it. I admit being somewhat skeptical when she had first described it to me, forgot about it, and then received it as a birthday gift. I started reading it, and it must have taken me a week to get through the first section. I really, really wanted to stop, but felt an obligation to continue. I will normally give a book 80-100 pages to grab me, and this one barely made the cut.
    I admit, I'm not a big fan of fantasy, but on the other hand, have read LOTR several times, and love Harry Potter. So, I'm not completely biased against the genre. However, when an author chooses to invent words, it does become difficult to continue reading when the context or root language (e.g. Latin) are not easily discerned. I'm not certain what root language Maguire is using, but it does seem more Germanic and harsh than some other fantasy. Tolkien possessed a genius for linguistics, and his invented words and languages were lyrical and descriptive. In another example, when I read "A Clockwork Orange" (when I was 13), Burgess at least gave the reader the benefit of a glossary to help get you into the language of the book. Something like that would have been lovely here.
    That being said, the story itself is intriguing, and MaGuire's take on the nature of evil is interesting, well balanced, and not nearly as dark as some have said. Once you get into the story, it moves along at a reasonable pace, although there are a good deal more unlikeable characters in this book than average.
    I personally feel that good and evil exist independent of religion, and religion is not necessary in order for one to be good or moral. There is a good deal of evil in this world in the guise of religion, and a great deal of good done by those with no belief in invented gods. I think Maguire presents these ideas in a very imaginative way.
    Overall, I'm glad I felt a sense of obligation to my friend to read the book she bought for me, even though I cursed her for the first 100 pages or so. Does that make me more good, or evil???...more info
  • The Book is Great; The CD is Toxic
    I buy books on CD's to listen while I travel in my car. I read Wicked several years ago and liked it. So I bought the CD packaged by Harper Audio as a prelude to the two others in the Wicked Years series which I hadn't read.

    The Harper Audio packaging of Wicked is dangerous to drivers. The sequence number of each disc is almost unreadable, especially at night. It is printed in tiny letters circling the inner hub of the disc. This makes it extremely difficult if you want to know where you are in the set. To add to the insult, there are no chapter numbers elsewhere on the disc. Instead, each disc lists the track numbers and their contents as though the chapters were songs that someone might want to replay.

    It doesn't help that there is nothing recorded on the discs themselves to tell you which disc you are listening to or even to indicate that you are at the end of the disc. I bought all three cd sets at my local bookstore-- I returned Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men without opening them. They are too dangerous....more info