Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: The Wicked Years

The Wicked Years Series by Gregory McGuire

I give this series a 4!

Always a fan of all things Oz, this series was perfect for me. This is the classic children’s story, rewritten and re-imagined for adults. This is the story of what probably really happened in OZ. This story has been around long enough for most people to know something about it, especially with the popularity of the musical Wicked, but unless you’ve read all the books, you don’t know the whole story. I read book one a long time ago and have read the other books over time, just recently finishing with Out of OZ.

In the first book, we get to see who the “Wicked Witch”, Elphaba, really is. We follow her life from birth to death, with Dorothy showing up on the scene right at the end. This is actually a story of friendship and political unrest.  Racism, discrimination, bullying, classism, sexual deviancy, social immorality, and so much more shadow Ephaba in her journey to find a place where she belongs, as she struggles to make a difference. Elphaba, with all her oddities, her green skin, and even her allergy to water is a likable person when you get to know her. As nice as she is capable of being, she does have a mean streak, and like all the other characters in this book, she follows no set moral compass. She decides for herself what is right and wrong.

In the second book, political unrest turns to war. Elphaba’s estranged son, Liir, a technically bi-racial bastard (I really dislike that word) is left to figure out his path all on his own, while trying to understand his powers. All the noticeable characters from the children’s book are here, but they are nothing like what you’d expect them to be. The first book was an eye opener, but the second book is a shocker filled with innumerous taboos that only increase as the series continues.

In the third book, the “Cowardly Lion”, Brrr returns to clean house and clarify a few things. He’s there all along with a brief appearance as a cub and then again near the end of the first book, in the second book getting to know Liir, and lastly in the third book proving time and again that he may not be a friend worth having. As in the first two books, the search for the Grimmeri is still on, but now more and more magic is coming into play.

In the fourth and final book, Rain, Liir’s daughter and Ephaba’s, would be, green granddaughter shakes up the lives of all her estranged kin, brings them together, and asserts her independence as she brings the turmoil of war and unrest in Oz to an end. Of course, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. We get to follow Rain from her early childhood to her premature young adulthood. She spends her life constantly on the move and has no sense of self right until the very end. All the major characters of this series come back for a final standoff between The Emerald City and Munchkinland, even Dorothy. I found the ultimate ending to be lacking, but in the scheme of things, it’s what I expected.

I can’t deny that I really enjoyed this series. There were some parts liked more than others and some parts I didn’t care for at all, but when combined, the whole story is worth experiencing. I am no fan of vulgarity, which is a good thing this story isn’t vulgar, but it is intense, shocking, taboo, and more. If you are easily offended, this is not the series for you. In a world of absolute chaos and fantasy, I look at the Wicked Years as a realist approach to the Land of Oz. This is just as magical as the children’s story, but darkened by the notation of reality. Fairies and princesses sound nice, but what are they in “reality”?  This is a difficult review for me to write only because I’m at a loss for words. This is such an amazing story.

This review has been posted to GoodReads
If you’d like to obtain a copy of this series, try these links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your Reactions and more. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken