First Lines: I first discovered I was trash three days before my ninth birthday–one year after my father lost his job and moved to Secaucus to live with a woman named Crystal and four years before my mother had the car accident, started taking pills, and began exclusively wearing bedroom slippers instead of normal shoes.
I’m a die-hard Wizard of Oz (movie) fan. I mean, it’s definitely in the top 5 at least. So I’ve been really curious about this book. I enjoy a fresh twist on an old story (look at how many Shakespeare retellings I’ve read), and this seemed like something I’d enjoy.
Amy Gumm hates her life in Kansas. An addict mother, a home in a trailer park, and mean girls just make life unbearable. So when a tornado picks Amy up and drops her in Oz, it almost seems like a blessing. But this Oz isn’t like the Oz Amy knows from the movie or the books. Here, wicked witches may actually be good, and good witches may be ruining Oz. The Cowardly Lion is the scariest thing you’ll find in the woods. Winged Monkeys are executed for sass and rebellion. But most of all, Dorothy has taken control of everything…and how is Amy supposed to fix Oz? Simple. Dorothy must die.
Erm…well, I really wasn’t that impressed by this book. Partly, I think this comes from my love of the movie, which I’ll talk about more soon.
What I did like was that Amy’s character felt natural. Back in Kansas, Amy is bullied and her life sucks. It’s horrible. She’s looking for an escape (or a death wish) when the tornado comes. Even though Oz is in shambles, it still feels like a wish come true to her. And I respected that because that sort of felt like what my reaction would be too. She acted like a typical teenager and she was relatable.
Also, I kind of liked seeing my old favorite characters turning bad. (It’s kind of the same reason I’d love to play a villain in a play; it’d be so much fun to just let loose.) They’re just kind of twisted, in a cool way. As it happens, this is also something that I didn’t quite like about the book, but I’ll explain soon.
What I didn’t like so much (because it frustrated me) was the mysterious, secretive attitude of literally everyone in Oz. No one would give Amy a straight answer to save their life. Oh my God. Look, I get it. In an Oz where one wrong comment can earn you a Fate Worse Than Death, you stay pretty hush-hush around anyone you don’t know. But when at least three characters came up to Amy and went, “Don’t trust anyone, especially me! Now trust me because I’m about to endanger your life,” I had a problem. If I were Amy, I’d have been looking for a tornado back home because they’d have made me pull all my hair out in frustration.
As I already mentioned, I also didn’t like this new twist on my old favorite characters. The word that keeps coming to mind is that they are a “perverted” version of themselves. I mean that in a “twisted” way, not a “sicko who likes little kids” way. I understand these characters needed to be taken to an extreme to make it believable, but they became caricatures of their former selves. It really wasn’t even fun to read about them after a certain point.
Mostly I saw this with Dorothy, though to lesser extents with the others as well. Dorothy wasn’t a dictator or simply a bad queen. She basically became the Queen of Hearts with her “off with his head” mentality. She was completely unrecognizable from the Dorothy I knew. (Yes, this is the point. But it would have been nice if there was a shred of the old Dorothy under all that evil.)
And honestly, I just think that the fact that I love the movie so much impacted how I read this. I mean, I can quote that movie more or less on demand. I think part of me rebelled against the idea of these characters being bad.
While I appreciated its take on a darker Oz, I simply wasn’t blown away by this book. (*snort* Um…no pun intended?)