I managed to find a free e-book copy of this wonderful book to read for my Satire class, which you can get here: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/197/the-wonderful-wizard-of-oz
First, I would like to say that I am amazed at how different this novel is when compared to the movie that I grew up with! My professor actually went through great pains to compare the Hollywood film to the actual text, while also explaining why exactly Baum's story is considered a satire.
There are many Lucianic references within the text. Lucian, for those of you unfamiliar with the man and his work, was a satirist who wrote in Greek. Works like "A True Story" influenced many writers in the centuries following... including Baum. I would highly recommend checking "A True Story" out; while the beginning may be a little slow for some, it is a truly engaging read that has many humorous moments.
THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ is a quest-like adventure to discover the attributes that each of the three characters Dorothy travels with desire to attain. The irony, however, is the fact that the Tinman, the cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow all portray the characteristics that they believe they lack.
The entire party would be lost without the Scarecrow's intelligence and knack for problem solving. And yet, like we have seen while watching "The Wizard of Oz," the Scarecrow believes he is unintelligent and requires a brain in order to feel some sort of self worth. The Tinman, with his lack of a heart, actually has a violent backstory. I won't go into details, but our Tinman has compassion, is empathetic, and is a protector. Unsurprisingly, he feels he needs a physical heart in order to be truly happy again. Finally, the Lion's courage is the most prominent trait amongst the three. Courage is definitely not something he lacks. Hell, he even volunteers to fight to the death at one point.
While Dorothy was somewhat like a blank slate (I wouldn't go so far as to call her a Mary Sue, since she does
have substance), it would be incredibly easy for a reader to project him or herself onto this character and pretend that they were going on this adventure.
I still prefer the movie to the book, and I felt that after the Wicked Witch of the East's death, the story began to drag (though this may be because I was comparing the story to the movie the entire time). What I liked most was the fact that both Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the East were not so black and white; instead, these two characters are three dimensional. There is fear, there is selfishness... lots of emotions drive their actions, and it is not simply two opposites being compared to one another. I love it when there are shades of gray to a character... it lends a more realistic feel.
Baum's writing is decent, however, it did not blow me away. I understand that this was intended to be a children's book, and he is a talented author, but it did not work for me. Between the length of the book and his writing, I gave this book a 3. Creativity was a 5.
Highly recommended read for those who loved "The Wizard of Oz."