Hail fellow fantasy-buffs and gamers!
Everyone knows that classical story by L. Frank Baum, The Wizard if Oz. If you have not read the books, you already have seen the 1939 movie, a classic. The myth of the far away world of Oz has settled in our memory, so much that it produced an interesting animation series and, a recent discovery, a book. A friend of mine gave me a few days ago a book with a cover very similar to what you would expect to see on what you would imagine is Sex and the Emerald City. I was first doubtful to read it, since I am not a big fan of those kind of novels. After reading it, I must say I had the wrong impression (don’t judge a book by its cover, anyone?).
The story of Wicked by Gregory Maguire, albeit a very simple idea, is interestingly executed. We now follow the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, the terrible nemesis to Dorothy and her friends (with the worst weakness ever. Seriously? Water?). Here we witness her birth and her life in college, as well as some choices she makes in her life to oppose the Wizard of Oz.
Now, the story in this novel is a bit twisted from what we are used to, which gives the whole story a very interesting point of view. Upon the arrival of the wizard and him assuming the power, the first thing that will happen is that he will start suppressing the subjects around Emerald City, provoking an ambience full of tension. Elphie (the witch) is thus drawn into a conflict in which she opposes the campaigns against the Animals (talking and thinking animals, the difference is in the capital letter), making her be part of an undercover terrorist organization. I will not spoil much, since I definitely recommend reading it, but in the end all turns against her and she turns into the villain of the story in the end.
Gregory Maguire’s re-imagination of the world of Oz is a bitter retelling of a person that, despite its “genetic” faults and being different, can not stop society as it turns, nor change its course. Elphie is a typical person that longs for understanding and for a normal life, but the events go, despite her freedom to choose, beyond her, making her thereby the evil person. Although at the end I felt it a bit forced when she sent all her cohorts to attack Dorothy, at least in the execution of the scene, I felt that the story had a bitter ending, even unsatisfactory. It will leave you asking “that’s it?”, but I think this was made on purpose. The efforts of the green nemesis will be in vain, and the novel will not hesitate on this, nor redeem anything. In other words, be prepared to feel a disappointment, but in a good way.
I hope this novel will leave you thinking on how we paint our images of people in the past and on how much sometimes it is too hard to fight against a society that has a set of rules which we do not agree with… and we can never fight.
This book is a definite recommendation from my part, even though it may not be the best. I am looking forward to read the other two parts of the series. I’ll go and poke my friend to see if she gives me the sequel!!! See you next week!
May they smile upon your way!