When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L Frank Baum s classic tale we heard only her side of the story But what about her arch nemesis, the mysterious Witch Where did she come from How did she become so wicked And what is the true nature of evil Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence And then there is the little green skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.An astonishingly rich re creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn t so wicked after all Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature. Here is yet one instance that supports the old adage that hindsight is 20 20, because had I known how much I d have enjoyed this book, I d have read it sooner I have no one to blame but myself for taking all the negative reviews so seriously For starters, there are several types of people who should not read this book because it will make them angry The biggest one is that group of folks who is opposed to S E X appearing in books The sexy scenes in this book are not graphic They aren t hot They aren t anything except ye olde average sex scene that for most of us who are over the age of consent isn t worth getting bent out of shape for.And on top of all that, the book is also jam packed with all kinds of issues that make people uncomfortable Politics Religion Science Racism Magic The Occult Sexism Class based societies Etc Mix that with a cherished fairy tale that a majority of us have some childhood history with and you ve got a sensitive subject The story and the characters are one we re all familiar with Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion, etc But in this novel, Maguire has taken these beloved characters and twisted them to suit his purposes The final product is something you will either love or hate As if the rating didn t already say it, clearly I m a fan I picked this book up because of the hype and had no expectations for reading any of the subsequent novels Maguire has published But now that the book is over, I find my curiosity has been piqued and I wouldn t mind following up with Son of a Witch to find out what happens next in the political fiasco in Oz and the surrounding territories. Instead of my usual griping style, we ll do this review in list form.Things That I Really Wish Gregory Maguire Had Bothered To Explain That Might Have Made Wicked Worth Reading Why Elphaba is green Why Elphaba cannot touch water The Philosophy Club which seemed to be some sort of bizarre sex club which was introduced towards the middle of the story, and then never mentioned again How it s physically possible that Elphaba gave birth to a son, but may actually not have, because she doesn t remember it Maguire s explanation is that she was drugged up on sedatives for the entire pregnancy and therefore cannot tell if she actually had a kid Umlisten, Greg, I know you re a guy, but I assure you, there is no drug on this earth or on Oz that makes a woman unable to remember giving birth What the hell the Clock of the Time Dragon was, and how it s able to give puppet shows revealing the Deep Dark Secrets of characters pasts Why Elphaba wanted the magic slippers so much The backstory of the Scarecrow and why he hated the Wicked Witch of the West The Tin Man and Lion are explained, but I guess by the time he had to come up with a story for the Scarecrow, Maguire had used up all his creative juices As a result, the Scarecrow just appears with the others at the witch s castle, and even Elphaba can t figure out why the hell he s there UPDATE I didn t want to be a jerk about this, but I am forced to deliver the following public service announcement.ATTENTION POTENTIAL COMMENTERS I appreciate the fact that you wish to take time out of your busy to day to offer explanations for some or all of the questions I posed above HOWEVER, before you do this, I advise you to read through ALL THE OTHER COMMENTS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN POSTED explaining various aspects of the book that I am too stupid to grasp IF, after reading every single comment, you still feel that you have something really original and startling to say that has not already been pointed out a million times, then please be my guest and post your comment If not, please be aware that the book s many flaws have already been explained to me by dozens of people, and one person telling me it s a really good book, you just have to read it twenty times before you understand MaGuire s genius will not convince me to alter my one star rating in any way.Thank you, and have a nice day. I have a confession I wanted to read this book because I saw the Broadway show, and the idea of a Broadway show based on a book based on a movie based on a political satire intrigued me I heard the book and the show were quite different, so I wanted to see the difference.The biggest difference is that the show is good, and the book is not I don t want to be mean to the poor author Gregory Maguire , who has made a fortune and franchise from this book and ones like it, but it s absolutely terrible It s a fantastic idea, mind you, but the execution is embarrassingly bad.Oftentimes, I read a book and see ways I could never be a writer the word choice, the cadence, the picture and world and emotions the author paints with language the distance between my ability to write a little song and, oh, Mozart.This book, however, had me thinking differently It had me thinking, um, dude, I could totally do that The characters are flat and stereotypical, the plot is jumpy and contrived, the dialogue is ridiculous, the tone is wildly inconsistent when it tries to be funny it winks too much, when it tries to be a political tale it s too obvious, and I could go on and on about its badness.Take this passage, for example Not only does it read like the author is framing each paragraph around a 5 word, but also the construction is, well, a little juvenile Journalists, armed with the thesaurus and apocalyptic scriptures, fumbled and were defeated by it A gulfy deliquescence of deranged and harnessed air a volcano of the invisible, darkly construed To the pleasure faithers with tiktok affections, it was the sound of clockworks uncoling their springs and running down at a terrible speed It was the release of vengeful energy To the essentialists, it seemed as if the world had suddenly found itself too crammed with life, with cells splitting by the billions, molecules uncoupling to annihilation, atoms shuddering and juggernauting in their casings To the superstitious it was the collapsing of time It was the oozing of the ills of the world into one crepuscular muscle, intent on stabbing the world to its core for once and for all To the traditionally religious it was the blitzkrieg of vengeful angel armies, the awful name of the Unnamed God sounding itself at last surprise and the evaporation of all hopes for mercy One or two pretended to think it was squadrons of flying dragons overhead, trained for attack, breaking the sky from its moorings by the thrash of tripartite wings In the wake of the destruction it caused, no one had the hubrir or courage or the prior existence to lie and claim to have known the act of terror for what it was a wind twisted up in a vortical braid In short a tornado I mean, dear god This is what trying too hard reads like.The thing that really hurts about this book is that it s such a great IDEA It could have been really really good I think I finished it because I wanted to see if it ever got good It didn t What it did do, however, was make the Broadway show that much remarkable First of all, the show changes some crucial details to make it, well, better and shorter , but importantly, it demonstrates that the musical theater folks saw something through Maguire s dreadful storytelling they saw that the crispy, chocolatey center was worth exploring So they re already better musicians than me Given the arc of the Broadway show, they re better writers than Maguire.I put this book down when I was finished, a bit disappointed in myself for persevering I picked up Rushdie s The Ground Beneath Her Feet and read the first page That first page was, by itself, better written than the entirety of Wicked.If you have any interest in this book, watch the original movie, read the book, then immediately go see the Broadway show with the original cast That s right, the only decent way to experience this book is with time travel Good luck. I hated this book Maybe it was because I was expecting so much with all the hype, maybe because I thought the original idea was so great, whatever End result, I freaking hated this book This is a book that makes you want to sit down and re write it yourself because it is such a shame that such a great idea was so mishandled I loved the idea of delving into the witches and their past and seeing them from a different view point I loved the idea of the politics of the different realms of OZ There was so much source material to interpret in so many ways But no the biggest thing I hated was the timeline It would start with the witches childhood and get really in depth into it chapters of the family and their day to day lives and the family dynamic And then it was like the author realized that if they continued on this way, the book would have to be a series and every book in it a tome So the next thing you know, abruptly, he jumps forward in time And the explanation of what happened in that gap is only briefly described if that It is so jarring I also felt that the characters were fleshed out during those brief times, but after the jump, And then it would seem almost like they were different characters Or a variation of the character you had come to know If there were life altering events during the gap that changed the character s personality, you can t just skip it Don t spend that much time making the reader get to know the character and then change them without showing how and why I hated the way the author would spend enormous amounts of time describing certain places or characters or situations in a way that gave the reader the idea that it would be significant and play into the main story Nope Which makes you feel so unsatisfied Imagine an entire chapter and a long wordy one at that devoted to a certain character or group of people and then then just drop out of the story completely Where did they go What happened to them Why spend so much time on them to just go no where with it Also, after awhile, it really seemed like the author had a definite AGENDA and he spent so much time forcing the characters and the plot to fit that agenda, that it disrupted the flow and felt forced I often felt like the characters wouldn t have acted that way given his own description of them I don t like being preached to If you want to really write a political book with obvious leanings, then do so But don t package it like this And this book could have been a great vehicle for a basic statement on many different things animal rights, our ideas of others , our treatment of people different from ourselves, a broad idea of what is good and evil as opposed to what people often label good and evil but didn t have to be so skewed to the author s personal beliefs Animal Farm, 1984, and many others come to mind I really believe that this story COULD have had the potential to be a classic, had it not been so mishandled So many of these concepts were brought up and then abandoned Or they were brought up and dealt with in a talky soliloquy, and without any real opposing view or anything It was like the author was determined to present every possible political view he had and, one way or the other, force it into the story But as he got writing and trying to actually write a STORY as opposed to an editorial opinion piece, he lost track of what he was saying or the point he was trying to make So many themes and ideas were a complete mess Not explained fully, explained too fully, so vague and complicated they were impossible to understand, or often than not, forgotten altogether I would have appreciated ANY resolution even skewed to the author s opinions rather than what he often offered, which is nothing It also felt so smug and superior it seemed like he referenced things for the sake of feeling smart or proving he was informed like a college student mentioning Nietzsche in conversation, not because he really wants to discuss the ideas or whatever, but because it sounds smart and proves he s beyond such things as keggers I just didn t like anything about this book I stuck with it to the end, hoping that maybe things would change, or maybe things would come together in a way I didn t expect but nope I can only assume that it was so popular because of the interesting concept of the book or the fear to admit that they didn t get it or the broadway play which I have heard is great and might better explain of the popularity of the book People loved the musical and bought the book thinking they would like that too Anyway, I wouldn t recommend this book to anyone.