Out of Oz
By Gregory Maguire
I must admit that I missed the first 3 novels in this series although I have heard a lot about them (all good) and remember hearing about the (Tony winning) Broadway musical that was based on the first book "Wicked".
The books themselves are inspired by Frank Baum's childrens classic "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" but with a more adult interpretation and one which takes the characters in completely different directions than the original book or films. The series so far has been very well received, becoming best sellers. This is the concluding volume in the Wicked series.
The land of Oz is going through a period of civil unrest; Munchkinland has been invaded by the Emerald City with Glinda under house arrest and the Cowardly Lion is on the run while Elphaba's granddaughter Rain comes of age, ready to take up her broom in an Oz wracked with war.
Amidst this turmoil appears none other than Dorothy. Yes, that Dorothy.
Not having read the first 3 novels put me at a bit of a dis-advantage here and it took me a while to get to grips with the characters and the story, which are quite different from Frank Baums vision - and yet they are alike still in many ways, sharing characteristics and mannerisms. The other issue was that of the story itself, it just didn't make enough sense without already having read what went before and here the book is very unforgiving, which is great for those following the series, less for people like myself. It is always a very fine line between making a book accesible to a new comer and annoying those who have been following the story from the beginning, and it's one many in-depth series do so in favour of the followers - arguably it's the right thing to do too.
From what I could follow and learning as the book progressed the story is actually pretty good and the characters well drawn, appearing both lively and three dimensional. I did however have problems with the pace and the narrative did ramble on at times without progressing the plot for considerable pages at a time. Many people are quite happy to read through this but without having bonded with the characters previously I was not one of them, which meant for me it dragged quite a bit.
The language used is quite impressive and really does immerse you within the world of Oz, managing to evoke feelings of the classic tale in all the right places. This does extend to the dialogue too, which is clearly very intelligently written and wraps nicely round what is quite an impressive plot.
By the end of the 600-ish pages of the book I must admit that I was sort of converted, the sense of style and strong "wizard of oz" feel really does have to congratulated and the adult spin on a childrens classic works so much better that I thought it would have. I do however feel that at this stage in the story it's almost impossible to jump aboard, you do really need to begin at the beginning but after reading Out of Oz I would sincerely urge you to do so.
Written on 13th January 2012 by Ant .