In Baum’s land of Oz, 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. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
I decided to read this book because I knew that the musical Wicked was based on it. Having said that, I haven’t actually seen Wicked – I’ve only heard a lot of good things about it. So, now that I’ve finished Wicked, I have very mixed feelings about it. There were some parts of this book that I really loved (like the descriptions and Elphaba and the middle section), but there were other parts that I just didn’t enjoy reading as much.
I think one of the reasons that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to was because of the writing style. I just found it hard to get into the book at the start because of the writing and that put me off the rest of the book for a little bit. However, I did enjoy the descriptions of Oz as Elphaba visited different places, and I thought that part was written very well. I could really imagine Oz and how different each area was to the next.
But my favourite part of this book was easily Elphaba. I loved her character right from the beginning, because she was intelligent and interesting but still very misunderstood and an outcast because of her skin colour. She was easily the most developed character and the most consistent – she wasn’t the sort of person to confide in others to start with but then she found friends and she changed a bit. Later on in the book, however, she changes back as she starts to forget how close she was to those people. I really loved her story because it worked, and I really liked the parts where she was challenging how things were being done and asking questions about what others took for granted.
On the other hand, I wasn’t really sure what the other characters were like. None of them seemed to have the same development as Elphaba and they just weren’t consistent, especially Glinda. She seemed to develop a lot while she was friends with Elphaba, but then her character totally changed when she was older and I found that very strange. This seemed to be the case with a lot of the characters.
Another thing I wasn’t so keen on were some of the plot points. Some weren’t explained very well, such as Elphaba wondering if she’d been living under a spell her whole life. It’s never really decided if there was a spell or not and I just wish there were more answers in this book.
I honestly wish I could’ve enjoyed this book more because a retelling from the villain’s point of view always sounds amazing, but this one really wasn’t. Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest of the books in the series, but seeing the musical is still definitely something I want to do!
“Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, or any others. No one controls your destiny.”