I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.
Review:I read this book at the recommendation of a teen I know. He has very eclectic tastes, so I was curious about this book. Plus I loved The Wizard of Oz, so I thought "Oh, this is going to be great!" While the writing was strong, and the characters well developed, I was still left scratching my head. What was the point?
The story begins in modern times with Amy Gumm, a rather wimpy teen in Kansas, being bullied and/or ignored by nearly everyone. I did think the main character's name was rather clever because Judy Garland's (who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz movie from 1939) real name was Frances Gumm! The story follows the original in that there is a tornado and Amy's house (a trailer) is carried away and blown to Oz. But that is where the similarities with The Wizard of Oz ends.
Everything from the original is turned upside-down. Dorothy, Glinda, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, and The Tin Man are now evil. There is a vague explanation that Dorothy is addicted to magic and so has turned into a power hungry dictator. But that is putting her behavior mildly. The book seems to relish in tearing down beloved characters and turning them into cruel, torturous caricatures of their former selves.
I did enjoy the character of Amy. I thought she was appropriately skeptical about what was happening. She can't seem to fathom how she is in the middle of all of this, and why SHE must be the one to kill Dorothy (or why that will help). I loved how she used her wits to survive all these scary situations. Glimora (Glinda's twin), and the other "wicked" witches were all complex, interesting people, as well.
But I still can't get past how incredibly violent and sadistic the story is. If there is a way for Dorothy or the others to be horrible, trust me, it will happen. The only person to show even a micron of their original personality is The Wizard. He may, or may not, be a good guy. But he definitely is a huckster. I found him to be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise putrid tale.
I am still going to give this story three stars due to the face-paced writing and action. There was plenty of tension in the plot enough to keep the reader interested throughout the novel. But I just didn't see the point of trashing revered characters from our youth to make a point that everyone can turn evil? Could that be the depressing message?
Don't know. Don't care.
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Source: Public Library
Recommendation: If you enjoy twisted fairy tales, you will like this action-packed book. But don't read it if you want to keep your dreams of a sweet, safe haven "over the rainbow"alive.