Christine's Reviews > Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Wicked by Gregory Maguire
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Jul 24, 07

Read in May, 2005

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 the realms he creates (some which are fantastical, others which are rather simple, and common earthly places) he manages to prove that no matter where you are, life happens. People get jealous, people feel resentments, and hurt. There isn't a sugarcoat and there isn't always a simple solution to everything.

He does not intend to create a pretty or perfect world. It seems rather, that he intends to take the perfect pretty worlds we are used to, and turns them into something we hate recognizing about ourselves. He fills his pages full of the things humans refuse to admit about themselves and in several cases he actually makes us sympathize with characters who we as children once hated.

It's easier to believe that there is a very blatant line between good and evil, do or don't do. In reality if things were so simple, wouldn't human beings find less struggles?

I love Wicked. The once negatively portrayed green queen of evil from Oz (as I liked to call her) is thrown into very sad situations, situations that seem so bizarre and yet, she feels things the same way we all do. It allowed me, to look at people I had once considered enemies, and see they had human nature built into them long before they became my "enemies", they had feelings that led them to wherever they happen to be now.

Many people might not find a cut and dry moral in this book, they may think it's dry, or that it fails to meet the standards of The Wizard of Oz. I'm not afraid at all to say this darlings... but we're not in Hollywood's Oz anymore.


Fact is, if you properly read Baum's original Oz books, Oz was a pretty morbid and cynical place. Aside from names and places; Wicked, The Wizard of Oz movies, or Baum's Oz books really don't have much to do with eachother. They have their own missions.

Just like Elphaba and Dorothy had their own missions.
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Comments (showing 1-9)




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message 9: by Rachel (last edited Jun 28, 2008 02:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rachel HERE, HERE!

You've summed up many of my feelings on the subject. I was surprised to see how many people posting on goodreads didn't understand or appreciate this book. I'm guessing much of the dislike for it stems from a misunderstanding that it would be a book suitable for children. Also, a lot of people have only seen the Wizard of Oz movie and/or the musical Wicked (and haven't read any of the Oz books), so they went into it expecting something totally different.


message 8: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam One of the things that many readers of the Wizard of Oz don't realize that it was a political novel when it was published. It was both a childrens' entertaining story, and a criticism of political abd economic policies of the 1890's. Wicked itself, has political as well as philosophical themes. What is the disenfranchisment of Animals but a look at how ethnic and racial groups are deprived of their rights. Maguire helps us look at the nature of evil, and gives us reason to question what good and what is the difference.


message 7: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Tucker It seems rather, that he intends to take the perfect pretty worlds we are used to, and turns them into something we hate recognizing about ourselves.

Sadly, I only got halfway or so through the book before I had to return it to a friend (at the end of our university term). But this is exactly the sense I had about it, and I greatly appreciated what Maguire chose to do here.


Christine Amber wrote: "It seems rather, that he intends to take the perfect pretty worlds we are used to, and turns them into something we hate recognizing about ourselves.

Sadly, I only got halfway or so through the bo..."


I completely understand about the having to return books thing. I don't really borrow books from friends but I do from the library and sometimes its really inconvenient to have to rush to renew or return a book before getting to finish it. I'm curious about investing in one of those electronic readers like the Kindle but preferably less expensive for this reason... but man how I would miss the ability to flip a page and smell a book.

I hope you get to finish it sometime. It really is one of those stories that makes you go "Ahh, I always knew there was more to it than what was on the surface."


Vera i think it's really interesting how, like you mentioned, Maguire does not attempt to create a perfect, pretty world. I feel that Wicked is more realistic than the Wizard of Oz and many other fantasy stories. Wicked highlights several of the negative aspects of the world that not many other stories include. It can be quite a wake up call. We are so used to reading books to enjoy an alternate, wonderful universe. Wicked (surprisingly) has a strong, mysterious, realistic element to it, and it really makes an impact on how strongly and effectively the themes and lessons appear to the reader.


message 4: by Christine (last edited Nov 20, 2013 07:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christine Vera wrote: "i think it's really interesting how, like you mentioned, Maguire does not attempt to create a perfect, pretty world. I feel that Wicked is more realistic than the Wizard of Oz and many other fantas..."

It's great that that's what you observed in the book. You're absolutely right that we tend to seek out books of fantasy expecting a happy and perfect world with minor conflicts. I really appreciated the richness of complexity in this one. I loved that it was so thoroughly realistic in how, even as they tried to solve several problems, there were many others around the bend. It's true of life. Nothing is ever perfect and there's always another mountain up ahead, but the journey makes it worthwhile.


David Sarkies Maguire certainly does explore the idea that our experiences and our lives can have an effect upon how we turn out. I think he did a really good job is creating the Ephelba who was to become the Witch of the West.


Madeline M Thank you for writing this!


Christine Madeline wrote: "Thank you for writing this!"


Thank you for taking the time to read it! :)


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