Sunday, August 17, 2008


Earlier today, I finally finished Wicked by Gregory Maguire. This one has been in my "to be read" stack for a while now. Other books would routinely usurp its place, slowly creeping up the pile and keeping this one on the bottom. In many ways, the book's situation reminds me of Elphaba, the heroine.

After finally finishing it off, I can honestly say, it could have stayed on the bottom of the stack permanently. I know that many people love this book. I know it spawned a musical. Doesn't matter. I had to force myself to keep reading more than once.

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Maguire recasts the familiar story of "The Wizard of Oz" and tells it from Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West's point of view. She is now the heroine with Glinda, the Wizard, and even Dorothy as the "bad guys," so to speak. He traces Elphaba's childhood as the daughter of a unionist minister, her academic career with Glinda as her roommate, her days as part of the underground, and so on. Some of the subplots and characters were memorable. I particularly liked Boq, the diminutive Munchkinlander with a serious crush on Glinda.

But I just couldn't enjoy myself. Part of it was Maguire's voice. I couldn't stand it. I can't put my finger on it, but I had this feeling that Maguire thinks he's more clever than he actually is.

Another major problem I have is that Maguire really didn't mesh this story with the source material that well. At least, I didn't think he did. When you're creating a story like this, I think it's imperative to work around what's already been established. Maguire didn't, not as well as he could have. I'm all for taking a familiar story and setting it on its ear (the best example of this is how, in two short sentences, Timothy Zahn was able to recast the entire Star Wars saga with Palpatine as the hero in Outbound Flight). But Maguire seemed to just take the familiar characters, keep a rough outline of the original, and then did his own thing.

And finally, I had a hard time swallowing Maguire's obsession with all things sexual. Too much. That's my opinion, but there you go.

No comments: