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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1)

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  464,413 ratings  ·  21,243 reviews
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 ag
Paperback, 426 pages
Published 2000 by ReganBooks (first published 1995)
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Veronica Juarez What? Really? Did you really find this book that explicit about sex and drugs? I really don't think so and I actually believe children are not that…moreWhat? Really? Did you really find this book that explicit about sex and drugs? I really don't think so and I actually believe children are not that dumb about these topics, of course, as someone already said it depends on how mature kids are but I definitely do not put an age appropriateness to this book. If people feels doubt about it, the best you can do is reading it together with your kid.(less)
Theodora Me too . I am only 17 , but I really hated the book . It ruined my language (Serbian)to me . I thought it was just a bad translation , but I was only…moreMe too . I am only 17 , but I really hated the book . It ruined my language (Serbian)to me . I thought it was just a bad translation , but I was only 12 when I read it . I haven't seen the musical , because it isn't available in my country . Only thing that I liked was the name of the Witch(very original name-Elphaba -L.F.Baum).That was amazing . I am so sorry you have been through that .The book could easily get a PG 13 rating (violent and sexual themes , thoughts about God , good and evil ,genocide ), while the musical could get a PG rating because of genocide (less)
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Disappointing Books
3rd out of 2,072 books — 4,414 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Instead of my usual griping style, we'll do this review in list form.

Things That I Really Wish Gregory Maguire Had Bothered To Explain That Might Have Made Wicked Worth Reading:
-Why Elphaba is green
-Why Elphaba cannot touch water
-The "Philosophy Club" which seemed to be some sort of bizarre sex club which was introduced towards the middle of the story, and then never mentioned again
-How it's physically possible that Elphaba gave birth to a son, but may actually not have, because she doesn't rem
Dec 08, 2010 David rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like modern takes on fairy tales and who can't read beyond a 5th grade level
Recommended to David by: Steve W
I have a confession: I wanted to read this book because I saw the Broadway show, and the idea of a Broadway show based on a book based on a movie based on a political satire intrigued me. I heard the book and the show were quite different, so I wanted to see the difference.

The biggest difference is that the show is good, and the book is not. I don't want to be mean to the poor author (Gregory Maguire), who has made a fortune and franchise from this book and ones like it, but it's absolutely terr
Claire Greene
Mar 28, 2014 Claire Greene added it
Recommends it for: Nobody - literally not one body
I hated this book. Maybe it was because I was expecting so much with all the hype, maybe because I thought the original idea was so great, whatever. End result, I freaking hated this book. This is a book that makes you want to sit down and re-write it yourself because it is such a shame that such a great idea was so mishandled. I loved the idea of delving into the witches and their past and seeing them from a different view point. I loved the idea of the politics of the different realms of OZ. T ...more
Max Ostrovsky
From the first page, I couldn't put the book down. I loved it! And as my love for the book Wicked and the Wicked Witch of the West grew, my hatred for George Lucas grew in direct proportion. How could he have gotten it so wrong?
I never pretended to like the new trilogy. It could have been a new story. It could have really delved into the character of Darth Vader, or rather Anakin Skywalker and truly made him tragic.
Instead of trying to fool the audience into liking Anakin by hiring cute kids an
I’ve pretty much stopped buying lunch at my work cafeteria because no matter how often the description of the day’s entrée induces those salivary glands into action, the end result is always terribly disappointing. The food looks like it should be good—braised beef that seems savory, fresh-looking tomatoes to impart a robust flavor, colorful specks of herbs that hint of a certain deliciousness and make the tummy grumble. So it’s a fresh shock to the system almost every time when it turns out to ...more
I love my physical edition of this novel...while the reading experience wasn't as good as always thought that it would be.


A thing that I got amazed when I started to "label" this book, in the process of my review, in my virtual shelves of Goodreads was how many different genres the novel touches... Politics, Religion, Romance, Humor, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery and even Espionage.

And I was very tempted to select Military too but I opted not.

And certainly the mood and themes o
As far as fairy tales are concerned, adults recall them to be simple moral stories of how things go wrong if you want the wrong things. As fond of them as adults may be, the stories aren't often dissected, interpreted, or believed in for much farther than that.

The brilliance behind Maguire's books, is his capability of understanding that both the fantasy world and the real world can be united by infiltrating the mystical with hard situations, realistic emotions, and simple human spirit. Even in
Aug 02, 2007 Keith added it
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
This book as become increasingly popular, mostly due to the success of the musical by the same name. the truth is however, its not very good. There are many interesting and intriguing plotlines in the book, and you wait for them to be clerified, and expanded upon, but many never are. many fantastic characters are introduced, and are hinted at playing an important roll later in the book.. doesnt happen. the book doesnt even really give you the background you want on the witch. it is made clear fr ...more
Beth F.
Here is yet one more instance that supports the old adage that “hindsight is 20/20,” because had I known how much I’d have enjoyed this book, I’d have read it sooner. I have no one to blame but myself for taking all the negative reviews so seriously.

For starters, there are several types of people who should not read this book because it will make them angry. The biggest one is that group of folks who is opposed to S-E-X appearing in books. The sexy scenes in this book are not graphic. They aren
Jan 11, 2008 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book clubs; fans of the stage show
Recommended to Amy by: a particularly messy houseguest
I don't remember the original impetus for reading this book - I do recall discussing it with a particular friend, but whether I read it on her recommendation or because I wanted to all on my own I don't recall.

As is evident from my star-rating, I can't say that I liked this book. I did really like the first chapter, when Elphaba was this awful baby, with her terrible teeth and who would only say 'Horrors', as though she were an infant Kurtz. But each successive chapter I liked less and less, unt
Jul 18, 2008 Polly rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
I’ve been trying to get through this book since last summer, and THANK GOD ON HIGH I finally finished it last night. Given that Wicked was popular with both critics and lay people, AND the fact that there’s a wildly successful stage play associated with it, I figured this book couldn’t possibly disappoint. And yet…

First, the themes/motifs were all. over. the. place. Animal rights, “otherness”, gender, good v. evil, and religion were the major players underlying the plot. And when I say underlyin
Jason Koivu
Busting out my born-and-raised Bostonian accent, let me just say, this is Wicked awesome!

Without taking itself too seriously, Gregory Maguire's Wicked takes Frank L. Baum's original work quite seriously, using reverential satire, witty wordplay and just plain silliness to tell a fan's version of the Wicked Witch of the West's backstory. Like a roaster lightly and lovingly giving the roastee a tender "going over", coddling his target out of a deep love and respect, Maguire delicately prods Baum's
Don't waste your time! And don't let your teen read it. I kept reading to the bitter end of this book hoping that suddenly it would all come together in a glorious flash of beautiful, meaningful allegory that would make all the crap worth it. Not even. I was just really mad when I was done that I'd wasted so much time on it hoping that it'd pull through.

Not only did it delve into the kinky, it was just plain boring and didn't make sense to me.

If you're interested in it because of the broadway mu
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for

Have you ever read a popular book and wondered why it was so popular? That's exactly how I felt as I worked my way through WICKED. Actually, that's not entirely true. I know why it's a New York Times Bestseller. Part of it has to do with the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I expected a light, fairy tale-like story. It's based on a children's book. There's a Broadway musical about it. Sounds like it should be fun, right? Uh, not q
Ugh. Where do I start? I am giving this book one star, even though it appears that I am in the minority in thinking this. I got through the first couple of sections and I just couldn't stand it anymore. It was painful. I'm sure the Broadway musical is great; I really do want to see it some day. People who have seen the musical and have read the book too say that they are very different. I hope this is true. As I turned each page, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs out of sheer boredom. Th ...more
Apr 18, 2008 Anne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anne by: Diane
I enjoyed reading Wicked, but found it perplexing.

Maguire's Oz is a complex, political society, and his Wicked Witch Elphaba and her contemporaries are fascinating, moving, original characters--but the landscape and people are so far removed from their base story that the purpose of the reimagining, reworking seems lost to me. There's no particularly compelling reason to set this novel in the framework of Baum's Oz story; it doesn't gain anything by the association and it doesn't lend any insi
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

Read a book with nonhuman characters.

2.5 stars

"'Listen to me, sister,' she said. 'Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.'"

I have never ever been more frustrated while reading a book. As most of you know from my continuous status updates describing my turmoil at my insistence that I NEVER EVER DNF anything, I had a really hard time getting into this one. It was boring and academic, and I would constantly find myself falling
This is one of my favorites. I generally like McGuire's books, but in my opinion this is by far the best of them.

After reading my teenaged years away through endless sci-fi/fantasy books where the characters are often painfully stereotypical "golden boys" (and they are almost always boys), it is refreshing to encounter a book where the protagonist is deeply flawed, but yet we respect her. The characters and interpersonal relationships in this book are complicated but leave you guessing about de
Krystle Ricks
Awful. The musical is absolutely amazing, but this book had whole chapters entirely for explicit sex. It was written very untastefully, you don't even associate the sex scenes with loving feelings. It was so terrible I didn't finish it.
Seth T.
I had the vaguely unique opportunity to approach MacGuire's most famous work without any immediate familiarity with his source material. I had neither read L. Baum's original work nor seen the Judy Garland vehicle. Certainly, some of the Oz mythos has filtered down into society at large over the years and I am broadly aware of some of the stories more famous bits.

I knew of the yellow brick road—upon which I presumed the entire tale took place. I knew of the ruby slippers, though little more than
Dostoyevsky meets Frank Baum.

This was not as much fun as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies maybe because it is more revisionist than mash-up, parody or spoof.

This is actually, strangely a very mature work but set in Oz and from the perspective of Elpheba the wicked witch. But it was amusing, entertaining, thought provoking, head scratching, etc etc.

Published 2 years before Harry Potter and 4 years before Phantom Menace, the influence on both series is apparent. Fun.

Very interesting book! Lots to like, and lots to dislike, but overall I enjoyed it, definitely wanted to keep reading, and found a lot to think about. What struck me most is the story of Elphaba alone. She starts life as an outcast for various reasons, & really never recovers, though she's bright, determined, brave, a good friend and caring family member, and in some ways sensitive, though self-involved. The book seems to cast her as someone of great promise despite her rough start in life. ...more

I must state that there appears to be a particular type of novel which does not draw my fancy. Wicked happens to be that type of novel. That said I was expecting more from what I did read.

With such a novel proclaimed as an imaginative retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and a popular bestseller I felt I owed it to myself to give this a try. However I find similar issues with this novel as with the second of G.R.R Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice novels. In other words there feels a deliberate
I received my copy of this book as a Christmas present from a teacher and friend, and I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of my favorite books and favorite authors. My mother had brought me up loving the stories where the told the other side of the tale, that tried to explain that things aren't so black and white, and maybe there's a good reason for the "villain" to be doing what she's doing. Things like Fractured Fairy Tales from Rocky and Bullwinkle, and The True Story of the Three ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
I loved Wizard of Oz so I thought that I would really enjoy this book. Nada. I hated every second of it. Made no sense at all to me.
Oct 24, 2011 Francine rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like driving all over the place, getting lost, and ending up in the middle of nowhere
I don't even know where to start. This book -- actually, the concept of this book -- had so much promise. This could've been a great revisionist retelling of the Wizard of Oz. Yes, it fleshed out Oz itself - what a rich land, people by various creatures: humans, animals and everything in between. The political and religious strata of Oz was well-thought out.

But I couldn't connect to any of the characters, especially the main character of Elphaba. I felt that none of them were fleshed out. None o
Dec 05, 2011 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Adult readers who enjoyed reading L. Frank Baum's Oz books and are not offended by freaky sex scenes
Reading this book was like returning to an old friend ... it was written in the style of the Oz books I had enjoyed as a kid, except now ... with X-RATED COMICAL PASSAGES! Woo-hoo!

I bring this up because I see a lot of people posting that they take offense at the sexual nature of some of the passages. I think the author was trying to portray Oz as an "other world" loosely patterned after the European Renaissance (not entirely, of course: details such as train travel came later). From my underst
Apr 02, 2008 Helen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who find the below description appealing
Recommended to Helen by: The Witch of Fluff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Martin

I thought this book was good and sad. I thought I had listened to it on tape years ago, but I didn't remember it at all.

I felt really sorry for Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west) because from the day she was born (green) she was not liked by her parents or too many people in the world. She was tolerated and a few choice people liked her. It's just like normal society where people are prejudiced against anything different. I'm guessing that would turn a lo
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Kindle Book Club ...: SPOILER ALERT, Wicked, Reading Completed 4 9 Nov 06, 2015 06:29AM  
Kindle Book Club ...: Discussion, Wicked, Reading In Progress 11 23 Oct 26, 2015 11:14AM  
Wise Witch's Wood...: October 2015 - Wicked 1 1 Oct 04, 2015 08:20AM  
Other books with characters like Elphaba? 7 92 Sep 16, 2015 07:50PM  
Book vs. Musical 93 842 Sep 13, 2015 08:40AM  
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Gregory Maguire is an American author, whose novels are revisionist retellings of children's stories (such as L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Wicked). He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children' ...more
More about Gregory Maguire...

Other Books in the Series

The Wicked Years (4 books)
  • Son of a Witch (The Wicked Years #2)
  • A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, #3)
  • Out of Oz (The Wicked Years, #4)

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“People who claim that they're evil are usually no worse than the rest of us... It's people who claim that they're good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” 4148 likes
“Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.” 721 likes
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