Dorothy Must Die is one of those books that I was aware of but never really intended to read because of my insane schedule. However, I read the first few chapters on Epic Reads back in March, and I was hooked. I loved Amy's sass and snark, and I wanted to see how she would fare in Oz with her attitude. Sadly, Dorothy Must Die was not the book that I assumed it would be based on the excerpt. (I only read the first three chapters - I never went to the other sites.) It lacked the sarcasm and self-deprecation that was hinted at in the beginning of the book. I'm not saying that Dorothy Must Die was a bad book - it wasn't - it was just not what I was anticipating or wanted to read. There were some inconsistencies in character behavior, but I am willing to write those off as rookie mistakes. (Just so you know I'm being fair and not just going by an unfinished copy, I bought and read the finished version.)
Amy Gumm, the main character, had a lot of potential. She stood up for herself, even when she knew that it would only make things worse, and had a fairly decent moral compass. Amy also asked a lot of questions, which is good when witches are telling you to do crazy shit. Unfortunately, she got whiny and irritating after a while. I expected her to be kicking ass and taking names, but all I saw was her saying "why me" on repeat. I know it will blow your mind to read this, but I would've liked to have had a love triangle in Dorothy Must Die. Yes, you read that correctly. I was not on board for the Amy/Nox interactions, and I felt more chemistry between Amy and Pete, despite the shortness of their scenes.
As for the world-building of Dorothy Must Die, I really wish it had been set anywhere but Oz. I read nearly every book in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum as a child and grew up loving the movies. (Yes, even the horribly wonderful Return to Oz with Fairuza Balk.) I get that the Oz in Dorothy Must Die is supposed to be a darker place, but using some of the characters and settings does not necessarily capture the essence of the beloved classic. I feel that's something important that a retelling should do. I understand that Paige is attempting to make this book her own, but her Oz could have been any land in any other novel just by switching the names, species, places, etc. Dorothy Must Die just never screamed "Oz".
The story was also way darker than what I thought it would be. Yes, Oz had its own scariness in the original books and the aforementioned movies, but Dorothy Must Die was gory and brutal. To be honest, if Paige would have created her own world and history, this could have easily been a five-star read for me. She can write tense scenes and kept me on the edge of my seat, but it just didn't mesh with Oz.
Dorothy Must Die was also nearly a DNF for me about halfway through it. Something about Amy drove me nuts, and the seesawing argument of essentially "the end justifies the means" and "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" (it never uses those phrases, that's just what I gathered) got tiresome. Yes, Amy, I know that you don't want to be wicked. So does everyone else. Also, I needed more flying monkeys. Flying monkeys are always the best.
Despite the issues that I had with Dorothy Must Die, I'll probably read the next book in the series. Paige is a writer with a lot of potential, and I'm willing to give her and her Oz another chance. Just because I'm a book snob does not mean YOU shouldn't give the book a chance. Dorothy Must Die is a horrific, bloody new twist on Oz.
Yes, I realize that I'm coming into a series nearly two decades after its ascent into awesomedom, but I finally made it you guys! That's what counts, right? I mean, I'm one of those people who wants to wait until the series is finished to begin it because, hello? After eighteen years, there are only five books out. Kayla is not patient enough to wait so long to find out what happens to characters. But that's neither here nor there.
Now, I've tried to read A Game of Thrones before. When I was taking night classes to finish my degree, I attempted to listen to the audiobook. I was new to the media type, and I just couldn't get into Roy Dotrice's voices. I think he may've been too British for me, so I stepped away from the book. I also attempted an A Game of Thrones readalong in September 2012 with Clint from NorthWoods Dork (formerly Geeky Daddy), but I just couldn't get into it, though I got through about 100 pages. It was good, but I just had too many other things to do. I may or may not have left him hanging.
Why did I finally read it? Because, damnit, I'm tired of everyone talking about something without me! I'm supposed to be this book expert at work, and jaws would drop every time I admitted that I haven't read A Game of Thrones or watched the television series. DO NOT LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT! I decided to give it another try! I even used up one of my precious Audible credits! (And they are precious to me, by the way. Gollum, gollum.)
Okay, I'm a much more experienced audiobook listener now, so I found Roy Dotrice to be an excellent narrator who was able to capture the essence of each of the characters and created a distinct voice for them. I knew when Arya Stark was talking versus Ser Jorah Mormont, even when I spaced out while driving, because I knew how each character sounded. Roy Dotrice is a rockstar, and I have no idea how I found his voice annoying before. I clearly did not know what was good for me.
As for the writing in A Game of Thrones, you don't need me to tell you that George R.R. Martin is a master novelist. I mean, he has written like eight novels besides A Song of Ice and Fire, and there are some who treat him as a literary god. (I totally get it.) Martin is able to weave this world and create characters that are so complex and addictive that it's a hard book to step away from. I mean, I have review books in stacks waiting for me, but I put everything down to finish A Game of Thrones. Thank Bob that it whispersynced with my Kindle so I could read it when I couldn't listen to it. That's the only reason I'm not as behind on my books as I thought I would be.
Characters, characters, characters... There were only about a zillion of these. Okay, not really, but there are quite a few, and we are given several points of view throughout A Game of Thrones. Let's see... We have Will in the prologue (who I always seem to forget about), Eddard "Ned" Stark, Caitlin Stark, Bran Stark, Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister. Of these, my favorites are Arya, Daenerys and Tyrion because they each have something to overcome, and they own their situations. Tyrion is my favorite of favorites because he does not shy away from the truth or telling ANYONE how it is. He my favorite and my best, and if George R.R. Martin kills him off, I will show up at his house and have WORDS with him. You hear me, George?!
If you were like me and hadn't read A Game of Thrones, there is no time like the present to pick up the damn book. You won't regret it. I don't care if you don't like fantasy, multiple POVs, or magnificent things - this book is for you. *looks to the side* And you. so do yourself and your family a favor and read A Game of Thrones. When you're done, be sure to leave the book lying somewhere in your house so when you have visitors they'll know you're one of the cool kids.
And on a closing note, I give you a George R.R. Martin meme that made me giggle.