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Monday, October 09, 2006

cover of Wicked

I really enjoyed the musical and own the cd, so thought I would read the book too. But .. I didn't like Maguire's other book which I read last year. And didn't really like this one either. Long and felt windy without reason. (Both windy like a road and windy like too many words!) The concept is fun, to retell a well known story from the opposite side -- but not particularly well done. This is a case where the musical is much better than the book. Too political and too psychological (sort of ) to hold my attention. Got to a point where I kept reading simply to finish. And was still disappointed by the end which had little closure or explanation for the need for this book to be so long.

Elphaba is the woman who eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Maguire shows this to be not by choice, but because of a large number of circumstances and events which were largely beyond her control. Being born green, parents who didn't know how to love her, always standing out, not having a friend until college, living in a land which was politically divided. With all these factors, how could she help but fight back in the ways available to her? The story is somewhat interesting, but Maguire takes sizable chunks of the book to relate his own views about politics and where the dangers come from and who should have rights. (Not saying they are his own, but they certianly come through in the commentary that is shared about Oz.)

One idea which was particularly interesting was that of a soul. Elphaba keeps insisting that she does not have a soul. (The reader isn't even given clear reasons as to why..) But this comes into play in some of her actions. she mentions it -- 'If I had a soul...' or 'I'm glad I don't have a soul..' because many people who do have souls are not respectable for her. They are weak and choose poorly and have favorites -- which are always somebody besides her. Are some people born without a soul? Some people certainly have little ability to tell what is right or wrong -- but is that all a soul is good for? Those with views that differ greatly from society are not necessarily evil (although history can easily portray them that way ..) but I did enjoy wondering about what exactly a soul is. And what it might look like to 'prove' that someone was soul-full or soul-less..

Title:Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Author: Gregory Maguire
Date published:1995
Genre:fairy tale retelling
Number of pages: 406
Notes: from marion


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