Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

Reviewed by Coral


Before she was the Wicked Witch of the West, threatening poor little dogs and chasing after lost farm girls for their  shoes, she was Elphaba, daughter of Frex, a Munchkinlander preacher and his wife Melena.

At least Melena thinks Elphaba is Frex's daughter. Marrying Frex was a great idea, in principal, seeing as her family didn't approve of him. But in reality, it's more than a little boring. So when that traveling salesman stopped by, Melena just couldn't help herself. She had managed to forget all about it until Elphaba was born green.

The Oz that Elphaba grows up in is undergoing major changes. The Wizard has just deposed the rightful rulers of Oz and he has started passing laws limiting the rights of Animals.

All grown up, Elphaba attends Shiz University. Her roommate is Galinda - a.k.a. Glinda the Good Witch of the South. But even the curriculum at Shiz University hasn't been spared from the Wizard's meddling. When the headmistress tries to recruit Elphaba, Glinda and Elphaba's younger sister - Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East - for ... something, it is too much for Elphaba, who runs away and ... does something.

This book was a really, really hard read. Hard to get into, hard to care about the characters, hard to figure out what was going on.  Nothing happened, for the longest time. And the things that did happen didn't seem to fit into a larger picture.

Actually, if there was a larger picture at all, I never saw it. I never understood what Elphaba's journey was supposed to be about in this book. If it was just supposed to be about how she ended up as the character we saw in the movie then, in my opinion, it wasn't a success, especially because in the end the author just ignores how Elphaba dies in the movie and re-writes his own death scene.

Disappointing read, but the concept was so interesting that it kept me reading a lot longer than I normally would have.

Grade: D