Maguire’s Oz fascinates and provokes thought, but is no child’s playground

Posted on October 26, 2011


Take a journey to Oz with Gregory Maguire, and discover a world that is more dark, disturbing, and fascinating than you ever saw in the movie. The Wicked series is a unique spin on the classic tale we’ve known all our lives, telling the story from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West herself, as well as the few she knew in her lifetime who truly understood her. This time around, she has a name: Elphaba Thropp. Born green to an overly-religious father and a drunken mother, Elphaba grew up feeling misunderstood, often being teased by others and put down for her differences. Ultimately, she became the ghastly Wicked Witch… a cynical being who, in this engrossing novel, challenges our views on the true nature of morality.

Other books in the series include the sequels, “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men,” as well as the fourth novel “Out of Oz,” which is scheduled for release on November 1st of this year. The books are all incredible works of fantasy, and will pull you into a world so alive, yet so mysterious at the same time. Everything in Maguire’s Oz is confusing and unsure. Nearly everyone spends their time questioning the ideas of right and wrong, religion, and governmental issues. Not to mention, the Emerald City is no longer the cheerful place you remember from your childhood. Oz is wracked by war and inequality. The Wizard is ultimately a harsh dictator, and runs his land behind a strong belief in eugenics. Elphaba is working to help her fellow people realize their leader’s wrongdoings, but it seems as if no one wants to listen to the green girl. In the end, Elphaba’s influence and message begin a sort of revolution in the Land of Oz. After she is gone from the infamous bucket splash from Dorothy, it is left to her son Liir, her granddaughter Rain, and their other alliances to continue the work she started, before it is too late and Oz is doomed for good.

Fans of the series note its immense popularity within the reading community. It is no doubt the books have been a huge success worldwide; the first volume in the series (simply titled “Wicked”) has over 4 million copies in print. It spawned the hit Broadway musical of the same name, which, as of late 2008, grossed over 340 million dollars. Every book in the series that has come out has topped the New York Times bestsellers list, and went on to become one of the top-selling fantasy titles of the year of its release. People who have read the books or seen the play immediately fall in love with the story, and it is often considered to be life-changing.

Despite the widespread liking of the series, some believe that the works are too vulgar to be on the bookshelves of anyone younger than twenty-one. The Parents’ Television Council (PTC) has openly criticized the books for their sometimes extreme sexuality, morbidity, and violence. However, votaries of Maguire’s tales believe that the PTC is taking it too far. Loyal fan Curtis Pasch believes that the books “are not a problem” and if parents don’t want their kids reading them, “simply don’t give them to them.” He thinks that the books are “truly wonderful” reads and that they in fact “help young people grow up and become more mature, seeing the world for what it really is.”

Whether or not you miss the old, happy Oz from your younger days or not, the new land of Oz in “Wicked” is sure to entertain you and make you think about the true nature of good and evil… and if they even exist or not.                                                                                                                    Reported By Logan Haithcock

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