Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years Series

Aug 11, 2010

I had been wanting to read Wicked (9780060391447 – HarperCollins) for a long time. I finally found a copy at a thrift store but had a list of other books to read first. With all of those out of the way, it was finally time to get around to Wicked. I loved the musical, but had heard the book pretty much had nothing in common with it other than some of the same characters, so I was eager to see what the book was all about. It seemed really strange at first reading the weird names and about the clock puppet with two *ahem* “thingies”. However, once you get used to the format of it, it’s really easy to get into. In all my years I never would have stopped to think about the past of the Wicked Witch of the West (or the East for that matter). Who would have thought that Glinda and the Wicked Witches were roommates at boarding school, or that the witch is so mean because her lover was killed? I sure wouldn’t have thought that far into their backstories. I remember Richard Armitage said in an interview that when he takes on a role, he writes a biography for the character to better become that person. This book takes on that idea and really almost makes you more sympathetic to Elphaba than to Dorothy. It should be interesting to watch the movie again now that I “know” more about the characters!

Wicked & Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

If I start a series I have to finish it or I’m wracked with guilt when I move on to something new. Since I read Wicked the other day, and Son of a Witch (9780060548933 – HarperCollins) is next in The Wicked Years series (9780062363350 – HarperCollins), I immediately started on it. This one is the story of the boy that is implied to be the Wicked Witch of the West’s son in Wicked. All through the book, you don’t know for sure if he really is or isn’t her son until the very end. I like Maguire’s writing style, but the book isn’t as good as Wicked. You are so far removed from The Wizard of Oz at this point, that I would venture to say the book has nothing to do with it at all. Like I said, the book is interesting and well-written, but I wouldn’t read it a second time. I was disappointed by the loose ends left at the conclusion of the book and by the lead character’s dirtbaggish behavior from time to time.

A Lion Among Men & Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

I was looking forward to reading the Wicked Years series. The books started out strong with Wicked and progressively got more and more boring as they went along. Son of a Witch was okay, I was able to get through it and I didn’t feel like I had entirely wasted a couple days of my life; A Lion Among Men (9780060548926 – HarperCollins) is a different story, however. I was able to get through about a third of this book before I finally decided that I just wasn’t going to waste any more time on it. I even tried listening to the audiobook, thinking that would make it a little easier to take and maybe more exciting, but nothing worked. Now the past couple days I’ve found myself avoiding reading because I feel like I needed to finish it before I started something else. When that happens, it’s serious and I just need to convince myself to quit and move on. That’s what I’m doing today, cutting my losses. I think Maguire was really reaching with A Lion Among Men and it completely shows. I wouldn’t ever even try to finish it again, nor would I ever even attempt to read Out of Oz (978-0060859732 – Harper Collins). If the books have steadily declined as the series has continued, the last one has got to be terrible. With the dragged out waste of my time reading that the third book wound up being, I’m just not willing to sit through almost 600 pages more. Overall, I would say this series is “meh” at best. My favorite part about it has to be the cover designs.

 I’m not going to allow these books to turn me off to the author’s other works. He has written a few other alternate narratives and continuations that are still on my to-read list.

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