Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years Series #1)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years Series #1) - This is the story of the Wizard of Oz – but told from the point of view of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a story of the brutal dictator, the Wizard of Oz and his coup that overthrew the old regime. It’s a story of his systematic marginalisation of the Animal population and escalating oppressionIt is a story of the Wicked Witch of the East’s rising up against that dictatorship, before her reign was brought to an end by a very badly timed farmhouse.It’s a story of the Wicked Witch of the West’s childhood – of her growing up with the stigma of her green skin and her devout father dragging them to the most obscure and marginalised corners of Oz. Of her school life, her determination to learn and rumination on the nature of humanity and evil, of the friends and allies she made.This is a story of the Wicked Witch of the West campaigning against the oppression of the Animals, of facing off and fighting down the plots of the Wizard – and finding love along the way. And having all that crash down and seeking redemption for what she left in her wake.In short, this is the Wizard of Oz, but from an angle unimaginable from the film.This story raises a lot of very deep questions and issues – what constitutes sentient life and humanity and where do we draw the line. What is terrorism and what is a freedom fighter. The issue of collateral damage and the issue of refusing to face injustice for fear of the fall out, ordered dictatorship vs revolutionary chaos, autocrat vs theocrat, the nature and value of apology and forgiveness. And, always, the issue of what evil is, where it comes from and what causes it.The problem is that, as the book passes through each stage of the Witch’s story, so too do we abandon each set of questions raised. Rather than delving into them, they’re raised, the Witch ruminates on them somewhat, and then we tend to pass away from it before bringing it to a decent conclusion or hefty examination. The questions are raised but could use more development before moving on to the next one. Sometime the questions raised are barely even touched upon (such as the nature of evil) and because we don’t have any analysis – instead the whole scene seems unnecessary and superfluous (like the adult Elphaba dropping in on Avaric and staying for dinner. Or going to see Boq and his family – in theory these scenes have been added for more philosophical questioning but because the questioning and development doesn’t really go anywhere, it feels unnecessary).Writing wise, I didn’t find it an easy read. Elphaba spends a lot of time – especially in the latter half of the books, navel gazing and thinking. There’s lots of internal monologuing and musing and chasing their own thoughts round in circles. It doesn’t flow very well, is often repetitive. This is especially true because there’s just so much there. So many themes, so many questions raised, so many plot questions raised to be left hanging for our own interpretation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are just so many of them that it’s confusing, it’s difficult and, in the end, work. With the question of Yackle, the Time Dragon, the old headmistress, Elphaba’s parentage, the wizard, his book and his potion and their nature, the shoes there was just so much there, so many questions, so few answers and yes it makes you think and consider, but it’s also tiring.Read More