Thursday, June 25, 2009

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

by Gregory Maguire

Wicked the novel: Take two (and a half). I received the book as a gift about seven years ago and was instantly in love with the concept. Who doesn't love The Wizard of Oz? To find out the back story was such a cool idea. I was surprised to learn that Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was first published in 1995 and I had never heard of it.

So I jumped in immediately. And almost immediately, I hated it. I mean, really hated it. I had such a difficult time with the writing style and I didn't like the political nature of the story at all. Some of the descriptions of the witch were so harsh and offensive to me. Overall, it was such a 180 from the movie that I couldn't wrap my head around it. Not that it had to be all happy and colorful with cute little Munchkins, but I certainly wasn't expecting a dark and complicated story. But I continued to read it. I was determined to finish. I was really forcing myself because I thought at some point I would start to like it because I just had to. I think it took me about six months to finish. And when I was finally done, it was like a huge weight was lifted. My obligation was complete, but I hated the book.

Then a few years ago Wicked the musical came gloriously into my life. I got the soundtrack from a friend of mine before I saw the show and instantly fell in love with the music. I've talked about this before, so fast forward to now, and I am completely obsessed with the musical. I've seen it three times with plans to go again December. I would really like to check it out in Chicago at some point too. I even own the Grimmerie. So how can I love the musical so much and hate the book to the same degree? A few close friends who have read the book loved it. What was wrong with me?

This time I was determined. I thought that if I could get through it on CD, I'd be all set. So I can finally say I got did and I definitely got more out of it on audio. I enjoyed the humorous parts that I completely missed the first time. I understood the political and religious meaning so much better. I came to understand Elphaba's flaws and strengths more. But it took me a while. Even on CD, it took me over two months to finish. I'm pretty sure I owe the library a small fortune in late fees.

I can't say I loved it, but I can say I'm glad I gave it another shot. I now might even be eager to read the next in the series: Son of a Witch. As an audiobook though, of course.

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