Customer Reviews for

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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(958)

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(442)

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(225)

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(133)

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(152)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

16 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

A book to borden your view of Oz

As an avid fan of Wizard of Oz I was always told that "Wicked" would be a great follow up and new take on Oz. I became a fan of the musical adaptation of the book but was told they are greatly different. This fueled me wanting to read the book. It wasn't till recently t...
As an avid fan of Wizard of Oz I was always told that "Wicked" would be a great follow up and new take on Oz. I became a fan of the musical adaptation of the book but was told they are greatly different. This fueled me wanting to read the book. It wasn't till recently that I finally did. The book is very well done. The book took the tale classic tale, showing before and how Elphie became the "wicked witch". Elphie's tale makes you wonder was she really wicked and evil or just a girl who's life took turns giving people other ideas about her?
I can't wait to read the follow up books to the "Wicked" series but i bet they will be just as great as this one.

All and all wicked is just a great read and should defiantly be added to your collection.

posted by Moonbunnyperry on January 15, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

36 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

Awful

To start with the positives, this was a wonderful idea for a novel. Unfortunately, the positives end there. Throughout the whole book, Maguire seems to be screaming, 'OH LOOK AT THE CLEVER PARALLELS TO MODERN SOCIETY! AREN'T I CLEVER?!' This impossibly boring, almost ma...
To start with the positives, this was a wonderful idea for a novel. Unfortunately, the positives end there. Throughout the whole book, Maguire seems to be screaming, 'OH LOOK AT THE CLEVER PARALLELS TO MODERN SOCIETY! AREN'T I CLEVER?!' This impossibly boring, almost maliciously confusing novel is peppered with gratuitous sex scenes that seem to have been placed there to bring your attention back to a storyline that even the author knew was incredibly boring.

posted by Anonymous on August 16, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    Awful

    To start with the positives, this was a wonderful idea for a novel. Unfortunately, the positives end there. Throughout the whole book, Maguire seems to be screaming, 'OH LOOK AT THE CLEVER PARALLELS TO MODERN SOCIETY! AREN'T I CLEVER?!' This impossibly boring, almost maliciously confusing novel is peppered with gratuitous sex scenes that seem to have been placed there to bring your attention back to a storyline that even the author knew was incredibly boring.

    36 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    So who was wicked anyway?

    I saw the Broadway show in February and it was absolutely incredible. Clearly I needed to read the book that this masterpiece was drawn from. A play can only tell a small part of a story so the book had to be amazing. Amazing is a word I would use to describe the book, certainly:

    Amazingly boring. Amazingly bad. Amazingly pretentious.

    I couldn't tell you what the plot was for this book. Every time it seems like the author is going to give us a real plot, he whisks you away to some point in the future. Be prepared to be left hanging. A lot.

    I was constantly waiting to find out more about things that happened in the book. What was the group that Elphie was part of? What did Madam Morrible really do to Glinda, Elphie, and Nessa?

    Things just happen because we're told they happen. Glinda and Elphie are friends, why? Not relevant. You just have to accept that they are.

    The gratuitous sex scenes all seemed out of place as well. Why did the author choose to write them? Was it to shock the reader? They added nothing to the story. I suppose since I would argue there was no real story, that it would be impossible to add to it. The author also had an obsession with urination. I guess the denizens of Oz have bladder control issues.

    This disjointed, plotless, lifeless excuse for a novel was all buried under flowery language. I'm an avid reader and I have no trouble with big words. But as boring as Wicked was, the writing style just made it even more painful to get through.

    It was a painful trip from beginning to end. Go see the musical. They took the idea of what this story wanted to be and made it something exciting and fun. There's a payoff at the end of the musical. There's none at the end of Wicked, other than the fact you don't have to read it any longer.

    34 out of 54 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unsatisfying

    I must commend Gregory Maguire on his ingenious idea for a novel. I am also very impressed with the thorough creation of the pre-Dorothy world of Oz. Maguire certainly knows how to weave a whole new culture and throw the reader into the middle of it, allowing us to discover for ourselves the intricacies of all the aspects of this new world for ourselves. Other pros: smart, witty, and often funny narration can be found throughout. Excellent and clever musings on the nature of good and evil, plus some interesting thoughts on religion and the existence of a soul. Lots of allusions that are not obviously handed to the reader, but must be discovered by taking a closer look. Some fantastic character development. The plot however left a lot to be desired. This book simply meanders. There are many unresolved or poorly resolved in-book links, and the only links to be found are those that connect with the original Baum story. There are large gaps of time that are inadequately filled in, or addressed only briefly and in an unsatisfying way. The best way I can describe it is that is just... goes. On and on. For pages and pages. Sort of like a diary. Lots of brilliant narration and character development along the way, but nothing adds up within itself. Although some characters I would have liked to see developed more (e.g. the Wizard). No fantastic plot twists, though a few are dangled before our eyes but then never resolved, which is a major disappointment. After checking out the Broadway musical, I am convinced that a novel based on the adapted plot of the show would have been a much more interesting read. That altered story is way more exciting and gratifying than this one. PARENTS BEWARE: pre-teens and younger children looking to find a great companion to the family-friendly Broadway musical will not only be disappointed, but will also find a good deal of R-rated material including sex scenes, an orgy involving bestiality, and a couple scenes of graphic murder plus a few paragraphs detailing gruesome torture.

    25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    unreadable

    I am going to see the play so I thought I would read the book first. It seems like such a great concept, but terrible in execution. The book veers between vulgar and boring. I only give one star to books I can't even finish, which is rare. Hope the play is much better than this.

    22 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2010

    A book to borden your view of Oz

    As an avid fan of Wizard of Oz I was always told that "Wicked" would be a great follow up and new take on Oz. I became a fan of the musical adaptation of the book but was told they are greatly different. This fueled me wanting to read the book. It wasn't till recently that I finally did. The book is very well done. The book took the tale classic tale, showing before and how Elphie became the "wicked witch". Elphie's tale makes you wonder was she really wicked and evil or just a girl who's life took turns giving people other ideas about her?
    I can't wait to read the follow up books to the "Wicked" series but i bet they will be just as great as this one.

    All and all wicked is just a great read and should defiantly be added to your collection.

    16 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    One of the Worst I've Ever Read

    Clever idea for a novel, but so slow I don't know how I finished it. I agree with other reviewers that there were really odd and almost lewd sexual scenes that had absolutlely nothing to do with this story. I found myself shaking my head in wonder, asking "What was that about?" over and over again. I really wanted to like this book but I just hated it. I would never be enticed to pick up another book by McGuire.

    15 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com

    Have you ever read a popular book and wondered why it was so popular? That's exactly how I felt as I worked my way through WICKED. Actually, that's not entirely true. I know why it's a New York Times Bestseller. Part of it has to do with the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I expected a light, fairy tale-like story. It's based on a children's book. There's a Broadway musical about it. Sounds like it should be fun, right? Uh, not quite. I get the feeling, though, that a lot of people thought as I did and bought WICKED looking for an easy-to-read lead-up to THE WIZARD OF OZ. I wonder how many of them finished reading the book when they figured out the truth? <BR/><BR/>Although to be fair, WICKED doubtless also owes some of its popularity to the fact that it's a well-written, literary novel that can be appreciated by well-read, literary-type people. Unfortunately, I'm really not one of those. Giving me a piece of deep, meaningful literature is like giving a copy of Hemingway's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA to a manatee. In other words, I was disappointed. My disappointment was partly in the book for not fulfilling my expectations, and partly in myself for not being able to appreciate a quality literary effort. <BR/><BR/>In case you've been living in a hollowed out tree for the last couple of years and haven't heard about the play, WICKED is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West. The book delves far deeper into the witch's life and times than any musical could in only two hours, however. In the book version of WICKED, readers are introduced to the witch, whose real name is Elphaba, when she is first born. She's green and has dangerous, pointy teeth. Needless to say, she's not too popular with the other children. Even her parents aren't too sure about her. <BR/><BR/>As the story progresses, we see Elphaba at college. She falls in with a number of fellow students, some of whom are more and others less accepting of the strange green girl. It's not just her skin color that's different, though. Elphaba thinks and acts differently than other people. And she has this aversion to water.... Well, we all know how that turns out for her. <BR/><BR/>The book is an interesting departure from the Oz books, including such details as why the Cowardly Lion is able to talk, and the fact that everyone in Oz thought Dorothy's dog, Toto, was the most irritating thing to ever draw breath. I wish, however, that I could have liked some of the characters. No one was particularly likeable, as far as I was concerned. Even Elphaba, who readers should have had some sympathy for, seemed odd to me, and I never understood her motivation for anything she did. In other words, I could have gotten over the fact that she was green, but it really bothered me that she didn't act normal. Also, a word of warning: Even though these are essentially fairy tale characters, this book treats them like adults, complete with sex, swearing, and the occasional murder. Younger readers should steer clear, and older readers should be aware of what's in store here. <BR/><BR/>In general, I recommend this book for OLDER readers who are huge fans of the Oz books or the Wicked play and want to go deeper. According to my husband, who is capable of appreciating fine literature, it also has literary merit. But for those of us who want to keep our memories of the Oz stories as sweet as the old Judy Garland film was, those readers might want to be careful around WICKED.

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2009

    Painfully boring

    Not worth your time or money. We were going to see the musical Wicked and bought the book on CD in preparation. We listened to it on a road trip and found it very boring, extremely wordy and vulgar. There were several parts of the book that were so very disgusting and disturbing that we had to forward through. And there were so many parts of the book where the author chose to be so very unnecessarily vulgar that it left you wondering about his character. Don't waste your time or money on the book. If you are at all curious about it's contents - go see the Musical which makes better sense and is a delight.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Uggh! Worst read of my life!!

    This book was something that I had been looking forward to for weeks after i had obsessed over the musical and everything about it. I got the book went home to read it and i almost barfed. This book was so bad that i felt like dying. Sure the writer is good, but the book is terrible. First of all, the plot is a doozy to follow. It is really difficult to understand. Second of all there are too many curse words used for my liking. And third, there are really gross scenes in this book. GROSS!!! The musical was 1 million percent better. My sister even threw the book away!!

    10 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2008

    Frank Baum would be appalled by what Maguire did to Oz

    Frank Baum's original tales of Oz were charming in their innocence as a naive farmgirl triumphed over evil through simple means. Wicked strips Oz of all of its delight by recreating Oz as a realm full of moral depravity. The opening scene in the book includes a reference to an adulterous menage a trois between a farmer, his neighbor, and her daughter. Gregory Maguire then goes into detail about a mother who whores about when her husband is absent. Meanwhile, Maguire ridicules organized religious belief systems by creating a ministerial character who secretly seeks homosexual liaisons, including with his wife's adulterous lover. Maguire consistently forgoes continuing plot lines and characters so he can return to the turpitude in which he revels. The second part of the book climaxes in a bestial orgy wherein one of the male characters is sexually bound to a tiger that is simultaneously ravishing a woman. There are no redeeming points to this book, as the writing is sluggish and the plot merely meanders through a series of sexual escapades. This book is not suitable for children. Only adults with a penchant for depravity would enjoy this grossly iniquitous read. By writing this book, Maguire has stolen everything laudable from Frank Baum's original masterpiece and rendered it as filth fit only to be discarded in the nearest cesspool.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Wicked.

    This was a great book in my opinion. Gregory Maguire has a unique writing style and he took L. Frank Baum's characters and made them his own. I am 15 and I found the book to be themed for more mature audiences because of the content. It is a good book for let's say ages 15+. If you want a good adventure and book, read it.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2008

    I adore Elphaba

    The book and movie Wizard of Oz, gave you more in site of Dorthy and her life.Where as the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was a book that gave you more background of the witch Elphaba(whose skin was green) and her sister Nessarose the Wicked Witch of the east(whose ruby shiny shoes started all the controversy in the beginning).Elphaba's college roommate,Glinda (who is known as the Good Witch of the North).The book opens up with some detail of her mother and father life.It also goes on to tell of her childhood, her life in college,her L.O.V.E life, her break ups, her lost,her motherhood and most of all her revenge.This is book is a must read. It not only tells of the Wicked Witch of the West, but it also re-tells the whole story. I enjoyed it from front to cover. I cant wait to read Son of a Witch. Which tells more in the life of Elphaba son Liir.But Elphaba I have absolutely fell in L.O.V.E with The Wicked Witch of the West. It was nice to reading the very precise detail of the new age fairy tale. I enjoyed this book. Elphaba remind me so much of me!!!L.O.L But if you haven't read this book yet, your missing out on the best re-made fairy tell ever!!!!!!

    8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    Don't Waste Your Money or Your Time

    I was actually excited when I picked this book up. My first thoughts were about the unique plot idea, and the fact that everyone had seemed to recommend it. However, Gregory Maguire sorely disapointed. The writing style was enough to make me seriously consider calling up the publisher that let Wicked pass along their desk and into book stores. Not to mention the horrible charaters who were either too revolved around sex to function or so incredibly unrealistic that the story evaporated. Plus the events of the story sounded more like something I would see on a soap opera than in a book 'other than a cheap romance novel'. I'm really mad that I wasting time reading this book and money to buy this book.

    7 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The best book ever :)

    This book was and still is my all time favorite book, I have no complaints. This book takes you to a different land, a whole new world. It was my escape. The best book I ever read.

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    FAVORITE BOOK

    Growing up I always loved the wizard of oz and even now it is an obsession of mine. I bought this book when it first came out and fell in love this is by far my favorite book and if you like the wizard of oz even a little you can't afford to miss it! It puts a whole different spin on the way things look in the movie. Read it you'll love it! it's been made into a broadway musical and the music is unbeatable !!!

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Almost through it part one

    At about page 160 it gets quite unreadable. I think i will have to force my eyes open with paper clips and somehow keep them from watching the paint dry. Not only does it ge tboring, but it salso extremely confusing. As if the author doesnt care at all if the reader is following and enjoying the story.. as a previous reveiw mentioned, its as if the author is writing to show off how clever he is at making a story, an djust lose sthe story completely, HOWEVER, im not finished the book. I will write a part two when im done.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Slow Near the End

    I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The characters were interesting, and I was looking forward to learning more about the land of Oz. However, once Part 4: In the Vinkus begins everything goes downhill. The book is SLOW from this point on and, for the most part, ignores the characters you learn about in the first half except for Elphaba. Once Dorothy enters the picture it is even worse. The timeline doesn't seem to line up well. It wasn't a horrible read. I just wish the end was better.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thrillifying!

    This book was absolutely amazing and it held my interest throughout (which is hard to do) as soon as i was finished i wanted Son of a Witch so I could continue reading.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    Wicked

    Many people know the Wicked from the musicals playing all over the world. These musicals are based on this book. The book is based on the movie The Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West, or Elphaba, travels throughout the land of Oz for various reasons. In her travels she meets many friends which include Glinda, a giddy, popular girl, Boq, a shy Munchkinlander looking for love, and Fiyero, an awkward boy who is nice when he makes friends. Then, towards the end, when the Wicked Witch of the East, or Nessarose, dies, Elphaba goes looking for the shoes that Glinda gave to Dorothy. This is when The movie comes in.
    This book had many strengths and weaknesses. This book was very intense at times and it sometimes left you guessing. Its characters are lovable and its settings are amazingly described. This book also has some weaknesses too. At some points in the book it was very confusing. You didn't know where you were and you didn't know who was talking. Also, I think there were too many characters. It was hard to keep track of how many characters were in the scene and how did what. It was just too confusing at times. Overall, this book was an excellent book. Tyler.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2004

    Not an acurate portrayal of Oz

    This book is well written. THe story is marvelous. Who can complain? The answer to that would be anyone who has read any of Lyman Frank Baum's original Oz books. Although Wicked is a great way of showing the 'real story' behind the wicked witch of the west, it has no supporting evidence. The wizard is made out to be a horrible person taking control and ruining Oz. In all honesty, the wizard was just a balloonist blown astray. no harm in that. The timing is horrible. For serious readers, I would not reccomend this book. However, if you do not care about the accuracy and preservation of good fiction, by all means, read this book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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