I finally finished a book I’ve been wanting to read for years, Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I have wanted to read this book since I realized there was a musical, which made it a perfect fit for my 2018 Pop Sugar reading challenge category: a book made into a musical. I already have this book on my bookshelf from when I borrowed it from my mother many years ago. I dove in shortly before my vacation to Florida this spring, and let it keep me up late each night during my vacation. What’s better than a reading vacation?
For those who are unfamiliar, Wicked is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west. As a reader, you’re immersed in the story of Elphaba’s youth, discovering the truth and injustice of the world as she does, and eventually come to understand the walls with which she surrounds herself. You’re also re-introduced to many of your favorite characters of OZ, like Glinda the good witch of the North, and the unknown, unnamed wicked witch of the east.
If you can’t tell from my reading history, I love stories that redefine what we know. Gregory Maguire does just that with Wicked by placing the villain in the position of logic and reason. Elphaba is portrayed as cold and distant, and even monstrous by even those who know her best. But, by reading her perspective of events, the reader comes to understand that not only is she not evil, but she is very nearly good. She spends her private time trying to understand the nature of good and evil in men and Animals, and understanding the difference between herself and those around her. She also spends the entirety of her energy trying to protect the world from oligarchic overlords who would control and destroy only for their own benefit.
I sincerely loved this book and the message it put forward. I am a hard believer that everyone is the hero of their own story, which was further reinforced when I started my chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance this year. You never know what story someone else is living, or what battles they are fighting, and so the least you can do to those you meet is be kind. In all of her actions, even when chasing the young Dorothy, Elphaba is trying to help, trying to be kind. She is the ultimate “Good Guy” Slytherin. (Did I lose you with that reference?) I am very curious about the lives and histories of Glinda and the other characters discussed in this story. The universe is so rich, that I’m really looking forward to the next installments.
If you love Wicked check out the sequel, Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. This installment follows the journey of Liir, Elphaba’s son, through his life after Elphaba. Just as thrilling and slightly more dark than Wicked, this is sure to keep your pages turning.
If you enjoy revisionist fiction style of Wicked, check out The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. This series delves into the battle for Wonderland, a universe covered many times over, with particular emphasis on the women in charge.
If you haven’t already, you definitely need to look in to The Lunar Chronicles Quartet by Marissa Meyer if you enjoy this genre. Marissa Meyer does a fantastic job of reworking classic stories, I’ve written up this entire series individually and highly recommend it to any Young Adult fantasy readers.
Have you read Wicked before or seen the Broadway Musical? What about any of the other installments or Gregory Maguire books? How do you feel this story compares to the original Wizard of Oz? I’d love to hear what you have to say so please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!