Last week, since I was going to be in Chicago, home to Oz Park (apparently the musical version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was produced in Chicago a year after the book was published in 1900), I decided it was a good enough time for me to finally start reading Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die series.
I have mixed feelings about it, so let me break it down for you.
-this version of Oz is a warped version of the Technicolored Oz we’re used to (other reviews have called it Tim Burton’s Oz, and you know I’m all about Tim Burton). Dorothy, having returned to Oz, is a power-hungry monarch with a taste for magic (and a weird need to dress like a lady of the night with her “assets” constantly on display); her companions – the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion – are all a lot more violent, twisted, and just plain creepy than any other adaptation. And in this Oz, good and wicked are all topsy-turvy: what you think is Good, could in fact be Wicked and vice versa.
-it’s surprisingly violent. Every so often, someone would get a limb torn off or would spew bloody vomit or something equally gross, and I was actually okay with it. Maybe not the best thing to read if you happen to be eating, but it’s always nice to see YA novels break away from being sugary sweet and introduce some darker elements, especially if one of the major plot points is an attempted assassination. The problem was that it felt random, almost like it was added in as an afterthought and not like it was organically produced, especially compared to narrator/protagonist Amy Gumm’s somewhat whiny nature.
-that thing with Pete and/or Ozma which I can’t elaborate on without spoiling the ending.
-those minimalist covers!!! So gorgeous.
The Bad (or Wicked, I guess)
-I couldn’t click with Amy. There was something about her that stopped me from being fully invested in her and her mission. Even her sad backstory didn’t elicit an emotional response from me, despite her rocky relationship with her mother and the pregnant school bully who made her life miserable (I’m still not sure what Madison’s pregnancy had to do with anything, but I guess it added drama?). She’s flawed and multi-layered, and seems like a realistic teenager, but, from the moment she touched down in Oz, I had a hard time liking her.
-Just like I had issues accepting Amy, I also did not even a little bit feel her “connection” with Nox. OBVIOUSLY he was her love interest and OBVIOUSLY he only had eyes for her, but their chemistry was basically non-existent except for one or two lingering looks. I actually thought she didn’t like him very much at first which would have been so refreshing, but alas, a few chapters after meeting him, she’s a bundle of jealousy when another girl happens to be in the same room as them.
-I couldn’t figure out the timing. How long was she in Oz before the Order of the Wicked recruited her? How long did it take for her to learn how to cast spells? The book rambled on for PAGES about her magical training, but it felt like no time had passed at all before she was suddenly a master of blinking herself out of existence.
But mostly, I was disappointed that, contrary to what the title implies, Dorothy does not in fact die (spoiler alert?). So don't expect any blood-spattered gingham in this installment, you still have another two sequels to go (or is it three?). And I'm not sure if Amy's voice was appealing enough for me to continue (at least, I'm not in a rush to get the next book).