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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked…
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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
23,71058186 (3.59)1 / 595
  1. 263
    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. 102
    A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (KrazySkaterChick)
  3. 104
    Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Kerian)
  4. 40
    Grendel by John Gardner (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are books that give you the "bad guy" take on classic tales.
  5. 63
    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel 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. 11
    The Librarian (Book Two: Unhappily Ever After) by Eric Hobbs (Othemts)
  11. 11
    A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez (infiniteletters)
  12. 34
    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.
  13. 415
    1984 by George Orwell (hayfa)
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English (573)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (580)
Showing 1-5 of 573 (next | show all)
Rich in detail and highly imaginative. Slyly humorous. Slow moving in parts. ( )
  KateSavage | Mar 29, 2019 |
I have finally finished the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West, and I really enjoyed it. It gave me a different perspective on the witch herself, whose name was Elphaba, and put her in a sort of humane light. At one point, she had been friends with Glinda, the good witch, so that was a surprise. But over all, I enjoyed learning of her family life, and school days. A very good story, for fans of the land of Oz. ( )
  seascape | Mar 22, 2019 |
I am usually intrigued by retellings of classic stories from the point of view of the antagonist or another minor character. This is what initially drew me to "Wicked." I had also heard the book is nothing like the musical, and since I may get to see the musical for the first time soon (fingers crossed!), I decided to put the book on my "Currently Reading" list sooner rather than later.

As many others have mentioned, Maguire's writing drags along in a lot of spots. This prevented me from enjoying the book as much as I could have. However, I don't think the premise of the novel - "The Wizard of Oz" from the Wicked Witch of the West's point of view - is bad at all. The author leaves a lot of the questions we have about particular characters unanswered, which in turn allows us to consider larger themes (such as good versus evil) in a variety of ways. This ambiguity is the mark of a good writer.

I've concluded that "Wicked" is to "The Wizard of Oz" as "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" is to "Hamlet," in that in each retelling, things just happen to a lot of the characters, and they cannot make sense of all of the goings-on. If you've experienced the "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" and "Hamlet" in addition to the "Wicked"/"Wizard" pair, then maybe you get what I'm talking about. Not everyone understands "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" - indeed, it took me a couple viewings of the film version to understand it - so maybe not everyone is going to "get" "Wicked." However, even if Maguire's was aiming for a "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" effect, his slow writing in spots prevents it from being as smart as the adaptation of Shakespeare. ( )
  msoul13 | Mar 18, 2019 |
Actually, below a star, how it was possible to create an award-winning musical from this is beyond me. It breaks the premise that the book is always better. ( )
  sgilbraith | Feb 8, 2019 |
This book took me forever to get through and I was very disappointed. I saw the Broadway musical and I loved it so when I heard it was a book I had to check it out. It was not at all what I expected in many different ways. When the book started it was just a lot more blunt about life, which is fine, but as it went on there were more chapters that were just unnecessary and frankly disturbing and had no place in the plot. And not in that 'Oh, good heavens to Betsy! Did that young man just engage in inappropriate sexual activities?' It seems when Maguire could not think of repugnant scenes to add, simply for shock value, he rattled on about politics for pages before abruptly, and without any explanation, jumping 5, 6, 9 years at a time. I found it hard to care about most of the characters and many of them did things that did not seem to fit with their character.
This book was quite a disappointment and I'll probably not read the rest of the series. I do not recommended reading this book.

(07/11/2013)
*page 324*
I mostly liked this book so far but it's started to get a bit boring and slow. Also there are a lot of really unnecessary and frankly disturbing parts. No one want's a page long description of someone having diarrhea, or a threesome with a tiger, or a creation story about a goddess's urine. Sorry but no, you're not being edgy you're just being gross. This is defiantly not what I thought it was going to be.

(07/11/2013)
*page 325*
I noticed that my numbering is off because my edition is not listed and a typo. But I had to post an update of this book's continued disturbing unnecessary existence. I'm not sure what I am even reading anymore because it keeps skipping around in years without warning, and then just slaps some horrible scene in just for shock effect. Why is it necessary to put a 9 year old playing with her mother's nipple? It's not.

(07/11/2013)
*page 500*
This book went from trying to be too intelligent to being a painfully corny madhouse. ( )
  AngelaRenea | Jan 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 573 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory Maguireprimary authorall editionscalculated
Avirom, JoelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
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People/Characters
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Awards and honors
Epigraph
'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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

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.
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 become 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.
Haiku summary
A witch is a witch
Not evil - not understood
So men will kill her
(Nodosaurus)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:58 -0400)

(see all 11 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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