50 books to read before you die discussion

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1)
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Book Disscusions Nominated Books > Wicked: the life and times of the wicked Witch of the west.

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine This won this months ‘open nominations’ poll. I won’t be reading it but look forward to seeing the comments of those that do.


Jeffrey (wordsmith2294) | 26 comments Did anyone else read Wicked for this month?

It's one of my favorite books! This is my third time reading it and it's been amazing every time. It's always had a place in my heart because it was the first "adult" book I'd ever read, besides whatever I'd read in English classes throughout high school. It was the first mature book to have crossed my path, because Gregory Maguire seems to know how to take fairy tales and fantasy to a more mature place.

And just because it's worth commenting on, I don't think the musical adaptation has much in common with the book. It's a fantastic musical and brought Maguire's story to life (just like The Wizard of Oz brought L. Frank Baum's story to life) but it's so different from the book, they could have given it a different name. All that's special about the novel (the ambiguity, the inner thoughts of the characters, the scope of Elphaba's life, the side characters that were just as important to the story) gets replaced on stage by larger than life performances and powerful voices.
I think a more honest adaptation of Wicked would look a little more like Game of Thrones.

But maybe no adaptation could take the place of the original (or maybe I love it that much). I love the analogies for bigotry and tyranny, and I love how rewritten the characters are--Glinda as the vain teenager who could grow up to be more, the Wizard as the Ozian dictator, and Elphaba as the unloved green girl and violent revolutionary. I even love seeing Oz as so much more than a fantasy, but as a political powder keg, a vicious and hateful land of greed and power where evil looks like the person who doesn't fit in. The original Wizard of Oz story is supposed to be an American fantasy--Munchkinland's fields as the farm country of the American Midwest, the non-magical Wizard as a pleasant-seeming politician, the Yellow Brick Road as the possibility of gold out West...it makes a lot of sense that Wicked makes the fantasy an American nightmare, complete with racism, abuse of power, terrorism, and Elphaba, Oz's scapegoat.

Even so, with all the politics and intrigue, Maguire's purpose is simpler. The Wicked Witch is a one-dimensional character, needlessly cruel and obsessed with shoes. Maguire told the other half of the story and debunked what was so evil about her in the first place. It could have gone very wrong, but it didn't.


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda | 85 comments I didn't realize this book was the group read this month. I read it when it first came out, wow, over 20 years ago now it looks like. Too long ago to comment on it. I still have the book and would love to reread it someday, but I don't have time this month. And I see Maguire's other books in bookstores as they all have similar covers, but I have not read any of them besides this one.


message 4: by Lo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lo | 6 comments Thanks @Jeffrey for your effusive review! I didn't know this was the month's read but I'm so busy I probably wouldn't have been able to read it anyway. However, your praise and enthusiasm has persuaded me. I must admit I, clearly erroneously, assumed the stage production was more-or-less the same as the book. Thanks for enlightening me!


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