The Wicked: A Novel

Wicked Summary & Study Guide
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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 be 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. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award—winning Broadway musical.

Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Read more Read less. Frequently bought together. Add all three to Cart Add all three to List. Ships from and sold by Amazon. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. The Wicked Years Complete Collection.

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Write a customer review. Customer images. See all customer images. Read reviews that mention wicked witch witch of the west gregory maguire frank baum good and evil life and times son of a witch nature of evil emerald city among men animal rights confessions of an ugly well written ugly stepsister yellow brick times of the wicked lion among cowardly lion brick road witch of the east.

Showing of 3, reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Format: Paperback Verified Purchase. Good luck. View all 82 comments. Jan 25, Claire Greene added it Recommends it for: Nobody - literally not one body. 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. T I hated this book. 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. 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.

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Animal Farm, , 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 more 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.

View all 58 comments. Jun 27, Max Ostrovsky rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , satire , contemporary , fantasy. From the first page, I couldn't put the book down. I loved it! And as my love for the book Wicked and the Wicked Witch of the West grew, my hatred for George Lucas grew in direct proportion. How could he have gotten it so wrong? I never pretended to like the new trilogy. It could have been a new story. It could have really delved into the character of Darth Vader, or rather Anakin Skywalker and truly made him tragic. Instead of trying to fool the audience into liking Anakin by hiring cute kids an From the first page, I couldn't put the book down.

Instead of trying to fool the audience into liking Anakin by hiring cute kids and bad actors, George Lucas could have created an interesting character. He could have told an actual story. With Wicked, we get that. Either a person has read the book or since we live in a culture of anti-reading, most likely has seen the movie. Regardless of which one, the Wicked Witch of the West is a pretty clear cut character.

She is evil. She is green. She is scary.

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What Wicked does is take this evil, green and scary witch and turn her into a person we can like and love. And it doesn't do it in a cutesy way where we say to ourselves, "oh what a cute green baby. She was not only green, but she had teeth like a shark. And used them! Lost fingers, oh boy! And forget breast feeding! She had a severe allergy to water. Her upbringing wasn't too much better. She was outcast. She had to help raise and take care of her beautiful and crazily religious armless sister who would eventually become the Wicked Witch of the East.

She was ostracized in school. Her roommate Galinda, who would eventually become Glinda, the good witch, could barely stand her. And despite all that, we grow to like her. She's smart as a whip. She's funny and witty. She's sarcastic and actually quite fun.

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

And she cares for all living creatures. Can you believe that? She even gets involved in a cause to help protect the capital A Animals like the Lion, those that can talk , who are being rounded up, Nazi like, by the real bad guy of the story: The Wizard. We see her take a lover and fall in love. We see her lose her lover. The progress that leads to her becoming the Wicked Witch of the West is natural and logical. And even at the end, crazy as she became, we understand her and pity her, making her that much tragic.

What a treasure trove George Lucas could have used to truly show us a young Anakin Skywalker. What if he was born disabled? What if to be mobile, he needed prosthetics to begin with? Oh sure, we'd still have that battle with Kenobi where he loses a whole lot more to become that scary guy in the black suit, but maybe he had to suffer his entire life being part machine.

That'll make Kenobi's later line of "He's more machine now than man" even more poignant. And maybe he's just a little angry about having mechanical parts? Maybe his first awareness of the force is through his anger. Of course, the beginning would be about how, on his own, through his own strength and integrity, he overcomes the anger and the dark, and chooses the light side of the force. And he comes to grips with his deformity.

And works on his charm and personality to such a degree that he wins a princess or a queen, whatever. He could even have a cause that he fights for. Anakin built C3PO, so why not take up for droid rights or some such? After all, he is part machine. Why, oh why George, did you give us such crap?! It could have been possible. And then we could have had a sci-fi examination and analysis of the origins of evil.

We could have brought more depth and substance to a classic space opera. View all 20 comments. Oct 16, Jason rated it it was ok Shelves: for-kindle , reviewed , The food looks like it should be good—braised beef that seems savory, fresh-looking tomatoes to impart a robust flavor, colorful specks of herbs that hint of a certain deliciousness and make the tummy grumble. View all 64 comments.

Jun 22, Nina rated it it was amazing. As far as fairy tales are concerned, adults recall them to be simple moral stories of how things go wrong if you want the wrong things. As fond of them as adults may be, the stories aren't often dissected, interpreted, or believed in for much farther than that. The brilliance behind Maguire's books, is his capability of understanding that both the fantasy world and the real world can be united by infiltrating the mystical with hard situations, realistic emotions, and simple human spirit.

Even in As far as fairy tales are concerned, adults recall them to be simple moral stories of how things go wrong if you want the wrong things. Even in the realms he creates some which are fantastical, others which are rather simple, and common earthly places he manages to prove that no matter where you are, life happens. People get jealous, people feel resentments, and hurt. There isn't a sugarcoat and there isn't always a simple solution to everything. He does not intend to create a pretty or perfect world.

It seems rather, that he intends to take the perfect pretty worlds we are used to, and turns them into something we hate recognizing about ourselves.

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a novel published in , written by Gregory Maguire and illustrated by Douglas Smith. It is a. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) This is the book that started it all! Book 1 of 4 in the Wicked Years Series.

He fills his pages full of the things humans refuse to admit about themselves and in several cases he actually makes us sympathize with characters who we as children once hated. It's easier to believe that there is a very blatant line between good and evil, do or don't do. In reality if things were so simple, wouldn't human beings find less struggles? I love Wicked. The once negatively portrayed green queen of evil from Oz as I liked to call her is thrown into very sad situations, situations that seem so bizarre and yet, she feels things the same way we all do.

It allowed me, to look at people I had once considered enemies, and see they had human nature built into them long before they became my "enemies", they had feelings that led them to wherever they happen to be now. Many people might not find a cut and dry moral in this book, they may think it's dry, or that it fails to meet the standards of The Wizard of Oz.

I'm not afraid at all to say this darlings Fact is, if you properly read Baum's original Oz books, Oz was a pretty morbid and cynical place. Aside from names and places; Wicked, The Wizard of Oz movies, or Baum's Oz books really don't have much to do with eachother. They have their own missions. Just like Elphaba and Dorothy had their own missions. View all 10 comments. I love my physical edition of this novel And I was very tempted to select Military too but I opted not. And certainly the mood and themes o I love my physical edition of this novel And certainly the mood and themes of the story embraces all those genres and maybe more.

I knew about this book series some years ago while I was researching about the topic of Oz in general and since then I thought that it could be good to read it. I recognized the title of the book and I took it by impulse. The cover was gorgeous with the poster of the musical version BUT what stunned me was the detail that this particular edition has the edges of the pages colored in green Honestly I can't think in something cooler to make irresistible this edition.

Those marvelous green edges on the pages of the book sold me the novel right away and I couldn't took back the book on the shelf. Thanks goodness the wicked magic of the credit card allowed me to go out of the bookstore with the novel. Certainly when I started to read the book, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore!

The Cowardly Lion and the Tin Woodman kiss their mothers with those filthy mouths?! The introduction of the book is like a slap to the readers to make them understand quick and hard that this is indeed an adult book. You know? I am not a prude, not in the least, but I think that Maguire made a hard effort to make sure that this will be an adult novel since I think that many of the issues touched here could work just the same without the need of some big words and sex scenes, while the drugs had to stay, hehehe, since indeed here the drugs played an important purpose on key moments.

It was like: "well since we have sex, drugs and rock n' roll well no, no rock n' roll, really, not even on the musical version this is a story for only we, the adults, sorry kids, you will have to keep busy with the Baum's cute books meanwhile you grow up some years. Lewis said that any children's tale that it can't be enjoyed by adults just the same, it's a poor children's tale. So, facts of life First, there are really big "jumps" between the chapters and while there some unexpected turns and twists that one can think that it's something good but some of those twists were With him?

And romance left the building! Later, I really expected an explanation of how a person can turn to be evil or be seen as evil, but Elphaba turned out to be wicked not as evil but as crazy and for reasons really odd. Also, since the beginning there is something that I don't understand. Elphaba born with green skin, okay, HERE , in our beloved Kansas and the rest of the Earth around, it could be a real trouble but hey, they aren't in Kansas anymore, that's Oz, a land where animals can talk and people can do magic! How odd really can be a person with green skin over there? Honestly I could be more freak out for a talking goat or lion than watching a person with green skin.

Also, the green skin resulted an odd issue again at some point, you see, Elphaba is in hiding, but hey, she is walking around the city The Gale Force recluted colorblind people?! Also, I have my theories about the physical problem of Nessarose Elphaba's sister but since it wasn't approached beyond of being just a birth defect, I don't see the point of her problem. Even I think that the story was evolving quite fine until Maguire tried to put together his own story with the original story when Dorothy arrives to Oz. WICKED READING Besides all my complaints, the book is still a smart vessel to touch sensitive topics of politics, religion and social interaction without worrying to be subjected to harsh critique since he smartly uses characters and themes in Oz and you have to deduce those allegories on your own and at the end, they will be your own ideas and not necessarily what the author wanted to say.

However, the book lacks of some action, all stuff happened in a very appeased tempo. Nevertheless, I want to try in the future the other books by Maguire, on this Wicked series and his other stand-alone novels based on retellings of classic children's books. View all 48 comments. Jul 17, Lyn rated it liked it. Dostoyevsky meets Frank Baum. This was not as much fun as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies maybe because it is more revisionist than mash-up, parody or spoof.

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This is actually, strangely a very mature work but set in Oz and from the perspective of Elpheba the wicked witch. But it was amusing, entertaining, thought provoking, head scratching, etc etc. Published 2 years before Harry Potter and 4 years before Phantom Menace, the influence on both series is apparent. I did not love it, but this was a Dostoyevsky meets Frank Baum. I did not love it, but this was a fun book and I may read more from him.

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View all 16 comments. Aug 02, Keith added it Recommends it for: absolutely no one. This book as become increasingly popular, mostly due to the success of the musical by the same name. There are many interesting and intriguing plotlines in the book, and you wait for them to be clerified, and expanded upon, but many never are. You never even get a really Good explanation to why she is green!! The book is full of cool little interesting things that you swear will play a part..

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I really wish someone would take this book and expand it to its true potential. My advice, borrow the book, see the musical. I should say that I loved the beginning of this book.. View all 18 comments. Jul 15, Beth rated it really liked it Shelves: i-reviewed-this-bad-boy , witches , wizards-r-us , fantasy , , infidelity , fairy-tales-and-fables.

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. And on top of all that, the book is also jam packed with all kinds of issues that make people uncomfortable: Politics. The Occult. Class-based societies. 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.

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View all 10 comments. It would have been impossible to condense all the political intrigue and vast cast of characters in the novel into a musical, and many of the plot devices were oversimplified, including the love affair between Elphaba and Fiyero. From the start, you know that Elphaba is doomed; that she will die at Dorothy's hand, and nothing will change that. Oh sure, we'd still have that battle with Kenobi where he loses a whole lot more to become that scary guy in the black suit, but maybe he had to suffer his entire life being part machine. I just hope I don't get too lost in those!

I picked this book up because of the hype and had no expectations for reading any of the subsequent novels Maguire has published. View all 12 comments. Is it normal that it makes me so excited? One week later. Maybe the green edges set too high expectations. I may or may or may not have skimmed through he last pages out of And now I really don't know what to say about this.


The writing is very rich , substanstial , and ther story seems, initially, to absorb such qualities itself, but right after you close the book you just know that, actually, it left you nothing. And while I know -I experienced- that this story is anything but flimsy, I wonder what went wrong. It's not even that I found it boring as many reviews say, it just told me nothing. I think I will pick this up again in the future. But this time around, it un interested me so much that I am speechless. For the wrong reasons.

Jul 08, Polly rated it did not like it Recommends it for: No one. And when I say underlying I mean thinly veiled by a meandering story. But he is. So much so that at times the story appeared to be merely a vehicle for positing his theories on that laundry list of Big Questions. It all seemed a bit pointless. I never could figure out where he stood on any of the issues, except for animal rights. He also seemed to jump from one theme to the next without any clear transition. Like the animal rights issue. I still need one more animal right allusion to make quota He was rambling through his thoughts with me as the unfortunate tag-along.

Poor WWW, she was so misunderstood and mistreated. My advice: See the musical.

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

View all 9 comments. Jan 11, Amy rated it it was ok Recommends it for: book clubs; fans of the stage show. Recommended to Amy by: a particularly messy houseguest. Shelves: finished-out-of-a-sense-of-obligati. And the Wizard of Oz was an out-and-out tyrant, a sort of combination Hitler-Stalin-Darth Vader, who instituted pogroms against minority groups and enforced his despotic rule with pillaging storm troops.

As Mr. Maguire tells us, the Wicked Witch of the West was once a little girl named Elphaba or Elphie, for short , who was born to a priest's promiscuous wife in a ramshackle hamlet in Munchkinland. Her green skin made her an instant pariah. Her own mother thought of drowning her; her father said she was "born to curse my life. In time, Elphie goes off to school, where the other girls make fun of her looks and ugly clothes. She has become a Holden Caulfield-sort of adolescent: sensitive, moody and suspicious of phonies. Of those phonies, her roommate, Glinda, is among the worst: snooty, vain and spoiled.

Though the two girls become friends for a while, though Elphie will do her best to broaden her roomie's outlook, the beautiful Glinda will later revert to her selfish ways. View all New York Times newsletters. Elphie has always been a fierce, idealistic girl, and she soon becomes involved in the fight for Animal rights. It seems that the Wizard of Oz has restricted the freedom of Animals and is threatening to turn them into chattel, slaves who can actually be owned and bartered by others.

Elphie begins working in secret with her favorite teacher, Doctor Dillamond, a Goat, who is conducting scientific research to prove that "there isn't any inherent difference between humans and Animals. Having become thoroughly radicalized, Elphie drops out of school, becomes an anarchist and goes underground. After her lover, Fiyero, is killed, she joins a nunlike order of "maunts" and takes care of the ill and dying. A long journey that eventually results in a visit home, however, will leave Elphie increasingly disillusioned and paranoid, and she will embrace her destiny as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Her antipathy toward Dorothy, Mr. Maguire suggests, stems from Dorothy's possession of Nessa's magical shoes and from Elphie's own sense of identification with the young girl from Kansas, from her realization that "Dorothy reminds me of myself, at that age. Although Mr. Maguire demonstrates a knack for conjuring up bizarre adventures for Elphie and introducing her to an eccentric cast of creatures though nowhere near as enchanting as the many creatures Baum invented in his multiple sequels to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" , his insistence on politicizing Oz and injecting it with a heavy dose of moral relativism turns a wonderfully spontaneous world of fantasy into a lugubrious allegorical realm, in which everything and everyone is labeled with a topical name tag.