I don’t think I really need to explain why I wanted to read these books. The clue is all in the genre. The Wizard of Oz is one of my grandparents’ favourite films, Wicked is my favourite musical, and I’ve actually read the original for once, so I was really looking forward to see what was done to Oz to make it so terrible. At this point in the series, I think Wicked is a better retelling, and let me tell you why.
P L O T & S T Y L E
Amy Gumm is the next Dorothy. The thing she was best at was wanting. Wanting to be away from her mother, wanting to not be harassed by the mean girl at school. Then a cyclone comes and takes her to Oz, which is looking a little different to how she remembers. Dorothy Gale has gone rogue, power hungry for all the magic Oz has to offer. She rules a totalitarian state, where the lion, scarecrow and tin man do her bidding and terrorise the citizens of Oz. Amy, unknowingly, joins a resistance group called The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and is given the mission to kill Dorothy and bring Oz back to it’s former, technicolour glory.
I really liked the sound of the plot, because it reminded me of a Percy Jackson book. She had all these little tasks to complete, and then she’d kill Dorothy. It’s all very quest-like. And, the why Danielle Paige writes about setting and the creatures of Oz was Riordan-esque. If you like Percy Jackson, and where looking for that same humour, and same plot structure of misfortunate-kid-hates-their-human-life-and-then-realise-they’re-magical, then Dorothy Must Die is right there for you. But, here are my issues…
M I S L E A D I N G B L U R B S
On the back of both books, there’s a list of Amy Gumm’s missions. In the first, she has to ‘Steal the Lion’s Courage’, ‘Take the Scarecrow’s Brain’ and ‘Capture the Tin Woodman’s Heart’ (something along those lines) and only then may ‘Dorothy Must Die’. So, I was expected her to be given all of these tasks, and for her to move her way down the list in a very structured manner. Instead, the ROOTW (great acronym?!) tell her to just dive right in there and try to kill Dorothy. They’ve got a plan to smuggle Amy into the castle. They’re teaching her how to control her witchy powers. But, killing Dorothy first would kind of defeat the point of doing the other missions. Surely, she should work her way up to Dorothy. The blurb’s logic was a lot better than the book’s. The Wizard then tells Amy, at the very end of the book, that she had to complete the tasks in that order, so that Dorothy could die, because it turns out, you can’t just stab her and hope for the best.
It’s one emerald-tinted fail, really.
The second book isn’t much better. Amy has to ‘Find Dorothy’, ‘Destroy the Road of Yellow Brick’ and ‘Save Her Home’. Here’s my problem with those: technically, Dorothy finds her. Amy’s too busy running around Oz with the flying monkeys and rainbow people to bother going after Dorothy. She doesn’t even get close to the Yellow Brick road, yet alone destroy it (and I assume that’s the next book, seeing as it’s called Yellow Brick War) and as for ‘Save Her Home’, it’s only on the last page that Amy’s transported back to Kansas. How the heck was she meant to complete those missions, in a book that was essentially just filler???
I N S T A L O V E
If there’s anything to put me off a book, it’s an unnecessary romance thrown in there for no particular reason. Amy is being trained by the Order, and there just happens to be one teen male that she can be attracted to called Nox. She learns to master her witch powers, (throwing flame balls) and that’s all well and good, but I didn’t understand the tension and attraction between Nox and Amy.
By the second book, he becomes Amy’s reason to fight. They’ve kissed a few times, but know literally nothing about each other. I guess, in this kind of genre, it’s hard to create a realistic romance, where the two people actually get to know each other and go on dates. I can understand why he doesn’t take her out for ice cream. But, it’s got to the point now that if a romance is solely based off of physical attraction, I’m out. Have you noticed the amount of romances that are as infinity as the galaxy, or whatever, that don’t actually show the couple bonding beyond make out sessions?
It’s probably because of the circumstance, but there’s no way I’d instantly fall in love with a boy if I didn’t know a thing about him.
G E N R E
As far as genre goes, these two books were successful retellings. They subverted your expectations of Oz, created new characters that slotted perfect into the world, and developed everything that was already there in a totally original way. One of my favourite parts of the stories was the description of Oz, because I thought Danielle Paige did an excellent job of enriching it, and making it all the more quirky and fun to imagine.
There were also some retelling tropes of hidden princess, and not knowing who was good or evil, so I enjoyed the books in exactly the way I thought I’d enjoy them. I also thought that the books did a great job of only giving you the backstory that was 100% necessary in order to understand the land and how it hand changed. I know that there are eight short stories to go with this series, which equates to two books near 400 pages each, but I don’t think reading them would dramatically change how good the core books are.
V E R D I C T
Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise had a lot to live up to from their blurbs. But, if you don’t get so hooked on the mission patterns, you’ll probably enjoy these a lot more than I did. I was generally disappointed with the trajectory of these books, and how meeting new characters, only for them to disappear in the next fifty pages, was one of the only things that kept the plot moving forward. I will continue with the series, but I’ll wait for the fourth book to come out before I dive into it again.