Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dorothy Must Die

Amy Gumm is just another girl from Kansas. She lives in a trailer and her mom is either out partying with her loser friends or too deep in a depression to move. A tornado drops her trailer right into Oz, but it's not like the movies or the books. She expected vibrant colors, magic, and happiness. What's left is sorrow, enslaved munchkins, and a beaten down Oz. Dorothy returned to Oz, made herself queen, and is siphoning its magic for herself until there's none left. Dorothy's friends are also unrecognizable. The Scarecrow kills beings for their brain power and makes grotesque experiments out of the people of Oz. The Tin Woodman kills without a thought despite his heart and the Lion is a savage, monstrous beast. Amy joins forces with those previously considered evil to overthrow Dorothy's reign of terror.

I am a die hard Oz fan. I read all of the books as a kid; I was obsessed with the movie; and I read and watch every retelling and permutation out there. Most of them are bad and create mediocre stories out of nothing (looking at you Oz the Great and Powerful) rather than drawing on the very rich world of Oz that L. Frank Baum created over the course of fourteen books. Danielle Paige chose the latter route and wrote a unique story with many characters no one hears about and looking at Oz as it was in the books while expanding upon it. Some of these characters include Mombi, the Good Witch of the North (who didn't previously have a name), Jellia Jamb, and Ozma. I am so excited to see Ozma that I don't know what to do with myself. She's the ruler of Oz after the Wizard and the Scarecrow and she is never in any reimagining at all despite being a major character. I hope she has a major role in the next book. Anyway, I appreciate that Danielle Paige knows the world and doesn't just make up random stuff that wouldn't make sense.

I greatly enjoyed her twisted version of Oz with a healthy dose of horror. It was darker than I was expecting from a YA book, but for me, that's a plus. Dorothy is power hungry and cruel with a veneer of sickening sweetness and beauty. The Scarecrow readily sacrifices Ozites to keep his brain power up and to do sick and torturous experiments on. The Tin Woodman has made himself into a weapon and commands an army of cyborg weapon soldiers created by the Scarecrow. He's also hopelessly in love with Dorothy and will do absolutely everything and anything she asks. The Lion is a grotesquely huge beast who feeds on people's fear and attacks often for no reason. All of them serve Dorothy and work towards the destruction of Oz. What I would like to know is how it got this way. They all started out as wholesome, good creatures. I understand Dorothy is an addict who needs more and more magic to feel beautiful, special, and powerful, but why would the others, who have lived in Oz all their lives, condone and help her destroy their land?

The execution of the novel had a few problems. The pacing is really off in places. Parts that didn't need so much time went on for pages and pages while pivotal scenes were rushed through. The romance distracted from the story without really adding anything except for fitting into the typical YA book model. The description on the back cover doesn't even get addressed until the very end of the book and isn't yet completed. The book ends literally in the middle of a scene, which I hate. I understand leaving plot lines open for the next book, but abruptly cutting a book short is just annoying.

Dorothy Must Die makes my inner Oz fanatic very happy in that she addresses and acknowledges little known characters and the existence of the world as it was created by the original author. It's not a perfect novel, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Danielle Paige's writing really sucked me in and made me overlook some of the problems. I will definitely be reading the next book because I need to know what happens.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

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