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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked…

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Wicked Years (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,47251673 (3.61)1 / 513
  1. 243
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (TuesdayNovember, lucien, sturlington)
    lucien: An obvious choice and one that's already listed. I will add that if your only exposure to the original is the film, I'd recommend this short read. There are several ideas Maguire plays with that are only in the book.
  2. 92
    A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (KrazySkaterChick)
  3. 94
    Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Kerian)
  4. 30
    Grendel by John Gardner (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are books that give you the "bad guy" take on classic tales.
  5. 52
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (Shuffy2)
  6. 42
    The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (joyfulgirl)
  7. 20
    The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (mhmolinaro)
  8. 31
    Was by Geoff Ryman (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: Set more in the 'real world' this re-telling of Oz compares three protagonists: a gay male actor with AIDS, a girl called Dorothy who a fictional L. Frank Baum 'created' Oz for, and a makeup girl on the set of the original film version film who encounters Judy Garland.… (more)
  9. 32
    A Barnstormer in Oz by Philip José Farmer (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: More affiliated to Science Fiction, this retelling focuses on Dorothy's son who returns to Oz by accident.
  10. 10
    The Librarian (Book Two: Unhappily Ever After) by Eric Hobbs (Othemts)
  11. 11
    A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez (infiniteletters)
  12. 00
    Good Omens by Terry Pratchett (sturlington)
  13. 23
    Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (khoov00)
    khoov00: This book seems to appeal to some with the same sense of humor as it would take to appreciate the book Wicked.
  14. 315
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (hayfa)

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English (506)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (514)
Showing 1-5 of 506 (next | show all)
i thought this was going to be a comedy: a satire or parody on L. Frank Baum's work and the movie. instead, it was a dark re-writing of an iconic character and story.

Maguire takes Oz and makes it real. as real as a fantasy realm can be. he Tolkien-ized Oz, in a sense, adding depth with real-world, adult issues like religion, greedy politics, adultery, and lots of other taboo or semi-taboo subjects in children's lit. although it is mythologically epic in its scope, there's no mistaking it for a bedtime story for your kids.

without giving too much away, Elphaba, the Witch, becomes the hero of this tale, standing out as just about the only sensible and honorable character in the book. she comes into the personality and power we see in the movie and the book partly by birthright, partly by upbringing, and partly through happenstance --or what appears to be happenstance. she is forthright, strong-willed, honest to the point of alienating most people around her, and the poster child for frustrated introversion, anti-prejudice, and blundering but biting wit.

Dorothy is depicted as an Innocent just as she is in the book and movie but is sympathetic and friendly with the Witch in the end, literally killing her with an act of kindness. the Wizard turns out to be more than a charlatan: he's from our world, indeed, but consorted with the likes of Madame Blavatsky of Theosophical Society fame before making his way over to Oz to recover a lost grimoire or "grimmerie." Discussions of there is a major reveal near the end that seems to have everything make sense.

i love stories that teach us how fragile and arbitrary our point of view can be. how seeing the same things from even a slightly different perspective can alter them profoundly. rather than the wolf's in sheep's clothing, an evil queen disguised as a kindly crone, we have the opposite happening here. suddenly, the terrorist becomes a freedom fighter, the monster a misunderstood savior, the devil your only true friend; Quasimodo, Jean Valjean, and Severus Snape come to mind. now, i can count the Wicked Witch of the West among them. i will never see the Wizard of Oz the same. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
First of all, he should get his own characters. It's a great failure of imagination to rip off someone else's. Secondly, what up with the pansexual Swamp Thing? Ewwwww! He would have had sex with the whole neighborhood but he got cold feet (ba-dum-dum). I understand the musical derived therefrom is quite entertaining, but I'll take the original books. Yes, books. There are a whole slew of them. ( )
  JMlibrarian | Mar 3, 2015 |
First of all, he should get his own characters. It's a great failure of imagination to rip off someone else's. Secondly, what up with the pansexual Swamp Thing? Ewwwww! He would have had sex with the whole neighborhood but he got cold feet (ba-dum-dum). I understand the musical derived therefrom is quite entertaining, but I'll take the original books. Yes, books. There are a whole slew of them. ( )
  JMlibrarian | Feb 27, 2015 |
This is the fantastic beginning of the Wicked Years series. I first picked up this book in 2006 and have gone through three different copies. I decided to read the book because I am also a huge fan of the musical. This book differs in lots of ways. There is much more emphasis on politics in the novel than in the play. The character line-up also differs. In spite of the differences, reading this is always a joy. Very much worth the 5 stars. ( )
  thatgreekkid84 | Feb 23, 2015 |
After developing a taste for Gregory Maguire’s writing style I decided to tackle the Wicked series. Wicked is the story of the witch from the story of Oz. Maguire blends elements of the original Wizard of Oz, not the movie, with his own imagination, providing a ‘background’ for not only the witch, Elphaba born with a green skin and sharp teeth, but also for the Lion and Tin Man, weaving their stories into Elphaba’s. From her birth to her death we see Oz through her eyes, giving us a completely different view of good and evil. Was the witch evil or merely misunderstood?

The continues along through Elphaba’s early childhood, then jumps to her going to school. A sort of university, we learn of what happened in between by conversations Elphaba has with her new friends and later in the form of flashbacks and comments by Nanny. A woman who took care of Elphaba’s mother, then Elphaba and her siblings. The end is written in such a way to convey Elphaba’s frustration with how her life has turned out. I also thought the ending was really well done, arranging the ‘murder’ of Elphaba to fit with Dorothy’s personality.

Overall I found this to be a compelling read. I gave it 4 stars and recommend it. ( )
1 vote BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 506 (next | show all)
Although Mr. Maguire demonstrates a knack for conjuring up bizarre adventures for Elphie and introducing her to an eccentric cast of creatures (though nowhere near as enchanting as the many creatures Baum invented in his multiple sequels to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), his insistence on politicizing Oz and injecting it with a heavy dose of moral relativism turns a wonderfully spontaneous world of fantasy into a lugubrious allegorical realm, in which everything and everyone is labeled with a topical name tag.
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny and Glinda's snobbish friends make this excursion to Oz worthwhile
added by kthomp25 | editPublisher's Weekly

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory Maguireprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Avirom, JoelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Tis very strange Men should be so fond of being thought wickeder than they are. -Daniel Defoe, A System of Magick
In historical events great men--so called--are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity. -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, War and Peace
"Well," Said the head, "I will give you your answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do?" asked the girl. "Kill the wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz. -L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This book is for Betty Levin and for all those who
taught me to love and fear goodness.
First words
A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.
"Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt. And maybe the cost of belonging is worth it."
"Ah, we're slow learners, Nanny countered. But they can't learn at all" (p.12).
"You're not so bold at all," said Elphaba, "you're about as bold as tea made from used leaves" (p.129)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, comes of age in the land of Oz, rooming with debutante Glinda at the university, and following a path in life that earns her the label of Wicked.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061350966, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:19 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A fable for adults on the subject of destiny and free will by a writer of children's books. It tells the story of Elphaba before she became the Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz. The novel traces her career as nun, nurse, pro-democracy activist and animal rights defender.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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