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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"
    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
  • 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:


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  • Enjoyed the reading
    I read the book before I watched the play and I liked the book far better than the play. I couldn't keep the book down because there was always a little twist that kept me on my toes. There are two sides of every story and this book conveyed that of the Wicked Witch of the West. Nonetheless, the play was superb and my date and I enjoyed it thoroughly, which had its own twist of the Wicked Witch. I would recommend this book to family and friends....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
  • very good read
    This was my first book that I purchased on my kindle. This was for sure a great first choice. I can't wait to read "Son of a Witch", the sequel to "Wicked"....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
  • Just plain boring.
    Never have I have struggled so much trying to finish a book. Finally I gave up, because frankly, I just didn't care anymore.

    The author spends way too much time describing every nook and crany of the scene to the point of being boring, and then leaves little to say about the actual characters. The story also jumps around so much it's hard to follow. As soon as it gets somewhat interesting, the story jumps to a new time and place, with all new characters with no history.

    I really wanted to like the book, and gave it multiple chances, but it was just not for me....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Something Wicked this way comes!
    Are we born evil or does our environment/situations create evil? Gregory Maguire's revision of the world of Oz takes a look at the evolution of Elphaba, best known to readers and lovers of the popular film as The Wicked Witch of the West. But was she really wicked or just completely misunderstood? Either way, you'll never think of Dorothy or the Wicked Witch in the same light again!

    Maquire takes us to beginning as new parents Frex, a religious man, and Melena, born into a life of privilege, receive into the world a little green skinned daughter. Melena, unsure of what to do with the tiny monster she has given birth to, is helped by her childhood nanny to give little 'Fabala' a better start in life. With a mouth of sharp teeth, green pigmentation and "horrors" being her first words, Elphie is a force to be reckoned with. But Nanny works her magic and we next see Elphaba attending Shiz, the university where she meets Galinda (later to become Glinda, the Good Witch). Glinda is a spoiled young lady whose main concerns are popularity and the right people to be seen with---essentially a spoiled frat girl. Through a hand of fate, she and Elphaba become roommates and so begins a lifelong relationship filled with ups and downs.

    It is at Shiz where the genesis of Elphaba's love for animals begins. Eventually she becomes an animal activist and political terrorist to support the rights she is dedicated to. Along the way, she has an affair with a married man, a Prince she met at Shiz, who becomes the love of her life. But her secret, dark life effects her hidden lover and she is soon on her way to become a maunt (a nun).

    From birth to her time at the university and beyond, Maguire shows us the gradual evolution of Elphaba and the woman she becomes by the time she meets Dorothy, a young lady from the other world, who's house lands on top of and kills, Elphie's sister, Nessarose. There's a lot of components in Maquire's world of Oz---psychology, fantasy, thriller, romance, politics. There are many touches of dark comedy introduced in the story as well, particularly between Elphaba and Glinda. Maquire gives us a complete world full of political struggles, corruption and denied rights of individual and animals that mirror todays world. In the end, the reader can decide if Elphaba's actions were evil or if she was evil from conception. At any rate, I think readers will enjoy this trip to Oz, even more so than the popular film that everyone recognizes. ...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
  • One Demensional
    This book was just blah. There was soo much potential to make this a truly outstanding story, and instead you walk away feeling you only got half the story. The characters were one demensional, the plot seemed slow, pedantic, and irritating like a sticker in your shoe. And what was with the sex scenes? I am by no means a prude, but they just seemed so heavy handed, and you could definitely tell a man wrote them. I wanted to know more about elphaba's inner dialogue (by the way I didn't like the name because I found it detracted from the story. my mind stuttered over it whenever it was on the page. they should have just stuck with fabala.) I expected this to be a really good book. Now I'm putting it on my shelf of disappointments, right beside the da vinci code....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
  • Loved it!
    Love this author. His writing style takes a bit to get comfortable with but once you have you will definitely enjoy it! Highly recommend it. I plan to purchase all of his audio books....more info
  • Rated "R" book
    I am an avid reader, and have read many, many books. I purchased this book to read because I love the music and the play. I did not read this book because it held my attention (because it did not do so- ), But rather, I read it because I was curious to know the biographies and backgrounds of the characters mentioned in the musical. It did provide me with the information I desired, but I had to sift through a lot of "sludge" to get it. This book should be rated "R". It's descriptive talk of the various sex scenes is disgusting. It details sexual positions, orgasms, lust, cheating, adultery, and other steamy subjects. Though the book as a whole is not like that, there are several chapters that are just written pornography. I don't recommend this book to anyone; especially minors. But, even as a 22 year-old single male, I will never read this book again, nor will I recommend it to anyone....more info
  • Wickedly Wonderful!
    A no-put-downer! Best book I have read in a LONG time. Although I am not generally a fan of science fiction or fantasy stories, this one kept me fascinated and enthralled. Unique, imaginative and creative with enough of a tinge of reality to make it believable, Gregory McGuire subtly and wickedly 'captures' the reader with his incedible command of the English language and adept story-telling. I would recommend this to adult readers and to only the most precocious of younger readers, as his blend of authentic and falsely-construed words could be confusing to most. My favorite of his techniques was perhaps the way in which he named many (but not all) of his characters-- "Avaric" (avarice,) "Madame Morrible" (horrible,) "Liir" (leer) etc., etc. To read it is to be swept up in a journey as good if not better than the journey of Dorothy and friends down the Yellow Brick Road!...more info
  • 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
  • Truely Amazing
    I had heard that this book was a truly terrible, dark, and over all a terrible book. But I decided that I had time to lose so I read it, and it is AMAZING! If you're a person who believes that there is only good, and only evil, then this isn't the book for you. But if you think maybe, just maybe there is an area in between, then you will love this book.

    Nearly every one has heard the story of The Wizard of Oz, and thought The Wicked Witch of the West is an evil and mean thing. But then you wonder why is she so wicked? Well this book tells you! It will contradict what you think of Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy, and most of all The Great and Powerful Oz him self. I completely recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13. But only because of the hate and love in the book
    ...more info
  • Don't bother reading this one...
    It should be called AWFUL, not Wicked. I was EXTREMELY disappointed by this book and wish I could get my money back. While the writing was fair, and the plot could have been good if it had been edited well, it includes awful pornographic imagery that does not build upon the characters' descriptions. It leaves the reader to wonder at the author's mental perversity and wonder what has affected him so despicably to wish to convey this pile of rubbish to his readers....more info
  • A fantastic novel
    Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz, but most of us see it only in Dorothy's point of view. Like most books, we don't really get to hear the antagonist's side of the story. Wicked tells the story of not only the Wizard of Oz, but also the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West before Dorothy even entered the picture. It starts with Elphaba being born into the home of Frex and Melena. Immediately after birth, she is ignored and treated with disrespect by almost all people. As she grows and matures, she goes on to working for Animal rights and voicing her opinion to the world. Though many events occur, in the end, we realize she is simply a misunderstood girl contrary to her popular belief of her being wicked.

    I would really recommend this book to anyone who was even in the slightest bit fantasized with the Wizard of Oz. If that is not enough to pull you in, by simply enjoying quality writing you are sure to be pleased. Gregory Maguire can really paint a picture in your mind of what is happening and get you to empathize with Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. This is truly an exquisite book, so I highly suggest it! ...more info
  • A Wicked story from start to finish
    I had no idea what to expect from Wicked.. but it certainly didn't dissapoint.

    It had a few slow places through the middle, but mostly, it was spellbinding throughout. Some twists that I didn't expect, and some completely new perspectives on the entire story of the Land of Oz....more info
  • Overly Dirty
    After seeing the amazing stage production of the same name, we bought this book and were excited to read more about it. We were shocked by the opening chapters to be reading such filth! Why were such dirty details necessary--the musical didn't need them in order to be successful! We kept reading for a bit to see if it cleaned up to get on with the story, but unfortunately it did not. It was sad to have to put it away, unfinished....more info
    This story begins with too much vulgarity and distastefulness for me. After putting it down several times, I finally closed the book having read only 40 pages and said, "that is enough." The writing is demented and demoralizing. My message to everyone: CHILDREN SHOULD NOT READ THIS BOOK! It is an adult story. Do not be fooled by the cover or the title. Personally, I think all copies should be burned at the stake....more info
  • A totally nihilistic view of life
    This book tells the story of Elphaba, who was born with green skin and teeth like a shark. The Land of Oz is a confusing place to grow up in, wracked with religious and political schisms, and slowly falling under the tyranny of the evil Wizard of Oz. And so, Elphaba must make her way, living her own life, but seemingly doomed to never make her world a better place.

    Well, you can't please all the people all the time, right? I must say that I really disliked this book. I found none of the characters to be likable in the least - from Elphaba's religiously myopic father, through her immoral and unfeeling mother, her self-centered sister, Glinda the spoiled witch, and so on. Even Elphaba herself is a highly unlikable person, outside of her feelings for the repression of talking-animals, she is completely unable to show any warmth or empathy for the people around her.

    Does this book explore the nature of evil? I don't see it myself. Elphaba stayed the same unlikable person she was born as, never showing any real movement towards sympathy. Is it great social commentary? Well, if so, I missed it. No one is particularly interesting or likable...or even particularly tolerable.

    All that I could find in the book is a totally nihilistic view of life and people. If that's the sort of story that appeals to you, then you will like this book. If you are looking for something more, then you will be disappointed...God knows I was!

    [By the way, if you saw the musical, Wicked, you saw a completely different story than the book. I highly recommend the musical, I do NOT recommend the book.]...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
  • Wicked
    What can I say... this book is... wicked!

    I thought the book was great. I thought the quick ending short changed the story, though....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 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
  • 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
  • phew
    This book is one of the rare ones that I find unenjoyable, unreadable and boring. Read about 30 pages and threw it away. Will not recommend it. The transaction was acceptable but the product wasn't....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
  • This is not an easy read
    I found this book to be a particularly hard read. The context and the material didn't set the scene properly and the language that was being used in certainly not modern English which goes well with the book although i found myself stopping to contemplate the intent of a sentence frequently....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
  • Exceptionally Twisted
    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Harper Fiction)

    What Gregory Maguire has done is take the sugary sweetness that Hollywood infused into the Land of Oz and torch it like a wicked witch. Here is a fresh look at the characters we all grew up with that will give you a new persepctive not only on the time honored story, but also on life in general. Anyone who can read this book and not come away with a new view on the world around them needs to read it again and pay attention....more info
  • Tough read but worth it
    I enjoyed, although, sometimes the farcical character and places and dates became a lot to contend with at any one time. However, with maps in the book, and paying close attention, it was quite the captivating read!
    ...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
  • Wonderful new look at an old favorite
    Maguire captures a part of Oz that Baum never went into depth about -- what happened before Dorothy crash landed on the Wicked Witch?

    This book raises issues about morality and ethics in such an engaging manner it's almost impossible not to be pulled into the mix....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
  • 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
  • Gregory Maguire sheds an amazing new view on Oz...
    Being a huge, dedicated fan of the original "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" children's classic by L. Frank Baum and it's MGM companion movie, I was slightly scared that getting to know the story through the witch's eyes would heavily twist and distort my vision of the classic. Surprisingly, this novel has done nothing of the sort... if anything, it has given me a wide new and exciting outlook on the story that I've been obsessed with since I was a child.

    ...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
  • A Beautifully-Written Story
    Gregory Maguire is a fantastic and very creative writer, putting depth into every little detail he possibly can. This book paints a very clear picture of the life of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she came to be the villain in the renowned tale of The Wizard of Oz. This is a must-read for any and all book enthusiasts!...more info
    I read this book because everyone was raving about the play. honestly, the best possible description is: great idea but TERRIBLE product. see the show, don't waste your time reading this....more info
  • It's a good book. Just not a good Oz book.
    In L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," you are asked to take it on faith that the wizard is good, Glinda is wise and the Wicked Witch of the West is evil. "Wicked" attempts to turn this on its head, with varying results.

    The Oz of "Wicked" feels a bit uneven. Maguire borrows some of his Oz from the original books and some from the 1939 movie. But he discards many of the most entertaining elements (Where's the golden cap used to control the flying monkeys? Why aren't the trees alive?) and, in doing so, doesn't use the fantasy universe he's chosen to its fullest. It was as though Maguire couldn't decide if he should use Baum's Oz, MGM's Oz, or create an Oz of his own. The result is a schizophrenic land of Oz. It was aggravating for me to keep boucing back and forth between these different ideas of one place in the same book. If you're not already an Oz fan, you might not have this problem.

    Having said that, "Wicked" is well-written, moves along quickly, and raises some interesting questions about good and evil. In the end, it doesn't matter that it's based on a well-known work of fiction. Elphaba begins the story as a misunderstood little girl and ends up as a woman who's eager and willing to kill an innocent for a pair of shoes. What could happen to make someone that hard-hearted? It's an interesting journey to take. On the way, you meet Elphaba's sister, who begins the book twisted due to a crippling deformity and eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the East. You also meet Elphaba's college roommate Glinda, the witch of the north, who hides her brilliant mind and expertise at sorcery behind a shallow facade. (Unfortunately, Baum's aged Witch of the North has been written out of this version. Like I said, it's a scatter-brained land of Oz). Are these women good or evil? Or do their actions lie somewhere in between? The plot gives the reader a lot to think about.

    I'd reccommend this one. Just don't expect to see a coherent land of Oz. ...more info
  • Awkward interface with original
    Maguire's lack of success in fitting his story, with the original Wizard of Oz story, condem this book to mediocrity. Its a strong compelling story until the moment Dorothy arrives. The pace changes, the narrative gets crisper, and the story carry forward to the witch's death with far less of the depth and texture than was in the previous pages. I would have much preferred if Maguire had not tried to be so true to the original story and resolved the witches life on his own. The scene where Dorothy kills the witch is just very inadequate - reads almost like a newspaper report. So I, like several others who reviewed here, was disappointed. I suggest either reading to where Dorothy arrives and stop, or begin when she arrives. In either case you will probably enjoy Mr. Maguire's book. Just don't read both. ...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
  • Keeps you reading!
    I found the book very interesting. It was one of those books that you can not put down. You keep thinking that I will just read one more page, and then another, and another. It makes you stop and think how things are not always the way someone else perceives them. That there really are two sides to every story....more info
  • Paranoid
    Despite the shared cover image, Wicked the book has little in common with the derivative musical. That is neither right nor wrong: despite a surprising enjoyment of the present Broadway production, I approached the book with a fresh mind.

    Maguire uses the frame of the Wizard of Oz, a mixture of Baum's book and the subsequent film, as a context to investigate the difference between good and evil. A full appreciation of this symbolism-rich telling would take at least two readings, as episodes early in Elphaba's life echo toward the book's end.

    But rather than enhanced insight into evil, my reading experience was of a descent from idealism to paranoia and insanity. The distinction between the sane and the insane is one we each struggle with in our disfunctional consumer culture. But as Elphaba's delusional slide gained momentum, it was a relief when the book finally came to an end.

    I'm not sure this one was worth its more than 400 pages. This one gets a bit heavy at times. I'll pass on the "Son of a Witch". But I may check out the San Francisco production of the musical.
    ...more info
  • wicked, paperback book
    The book was in good shape. I did not really like the story. I guess I really didn't understand want it really was about....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
  • 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
  • Fantastic Beginning, Slow Ending
    Wicked / 978-0-06-135096-2

    "Wicked" is divided into five sections, each detailing the life and time of the Wicked Witch of the West, or Elphaba, as we are to learn she is called. The first segment of the book details the unfortunate circumstances of her birth and her unnaturally green skin (you didn't think that green skin was from her own inner wickedness, did you?), bright eyes, and sharp teeth. We then skip ahead to follow her through her difficult teenage years at a far-away college, studying life sciences and laboring for the Animal Rights Movement. After witnessing the terrible prejudice and injustice against the speaking animals, she deliberately choses a life as an outcast, far beyond the reach of civilized society, first as an underground agitator and then as a recluse in a far-away land, laboring to forget the misfortune she has known and the pain she has witnessed.

    "Wicked" humanizes the Witch in a way never thought possible. We see her joys, her struggles, her sorrows; the pain of being different and distant because of her strange skin, her lost childhood caring for her younger sister (the unfortunate original owner of the ruby slippers), and the lost opportunities when the powerful Wizard invades Oz and forcibly takes it over for his own. Elphaba struggles, fights, and passionately cares about politics and human/Animal relations ('Animals' speak and think, like the Cowardly Lion; regular 'animals' do not). She joins a separatist rebel movement and tries, in the valiant earnestness of youth, to make a difference.

    Had the book stopped at the third volume, I would easily have given it five stars - the subject matter is delicious, the pacing is excellent, the vigorous pain of teenage years leaps off of every page. Yet the last two sections, dealing with Elphaba's outcast years and her eventual, regrettable demise have very slow pacing. The tone here is introspective, but the actual effect is hazy, lazy, and eventually rather dull. I felt as though I was slogging through to the end, which is a disappointing feeling after such a superb and promising beginning. I recommend "Wicked" as a very good read, and as a superb treatment on the nature of evil and the importance of eschewing prejudice, but do be prepared for the eventual slowdown of narration near the end. ...more info
  • Slow and Steady
    It has taken me some time to get started but it is very interesting. It is more sexual then what I had thought it would be....more info


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