The story begins shortly before the birth of the witch, Elphaba. We meet her parents and get a sense of the political and religious atmospheres of Oz. We follow Elphaba through her toddler years and go with her to Shiz, a privileged academy for sorcery and science. We meet her younger sister, Nessarose, and her roommate, Glinda— then Galinda— and a host of other characters. Over the years, Elphaba matures, developing her own agenda, and we learn of the events that lead up to her acquiring the infamous title of Wicked Witch of The West. The story ends with Elphaba’s encounter with the mysterious girl, Dorothy, from an unknown land called Kansas, sent to kill her by the nefarious Wizard.
This was a long book. I stopped a little over halfway through, intending to take a break the duration of one other book, and ended up reading five other books before returning to Wicked. It is ultimately an interesting story, and I appreciated how Maguire ties the classic story in with his tale, especially towards the end. But there are long periods of Elphaba’s life that, although helpful in explaining her role in Oz, are very dull. The dialogue always seemed to pick up the pace, and I enjoyed the philosophy that appeared throughout the book: thought-provoking questions of morality, equality, and religion. But it was not exactly a fun read, which one probably expects from such a tale.
Would I recommend this book?
Not for the casual reader. Perhaps for the obsessive reader, simply because it could be a good reference for a lot of other things in life.