Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of The West

Early in the year my family and I went to see a matinee performance of Wicked at QPAC and we really enjoyed it. Having been quite into musical theatre in late high school and early university, I knew all of the words to the songs, and was looking forward to having the bits in between filled in. Not only that, but I got to see Bert Newton in action (whether his performance was good is neither here nor there… He was there, people.). My cousin grabbed a copy of the novel that very day. I’ve wanted to read it for ages, but hadn’t been able to get a copy, but decided to push it a bit higher on my list of priorities now that I’d seen the musical and bought the themed Midori cocktail.

Everyone I know who I’ve spoken to about reading this book have told me the same thing – it gets really slow around the middle, and they couldn’t make it through. Well, I was up to that slow going middle section while stuck in an airport in Fiji for eight hours, without a bookstore in sight. So I battled through, and I’d like to think that I would have even if I hadn’t been trapped and desperate for entertainment, although I doubt this would actually have been the case, since it took me two weeks to finish the final section despite it being quite short. I’d just lost interest, more than anything.

For those who don’t know, Wicked is basically a biography of The Wicked Witch of the West, the villain of the Wizard of Oz novel and film. According to this telling, Elphie, as she is known by her friends, who has been green all her life, makes an unlikely friend in her room mate Galinda, who would later be known as the Good Witch of the North. After a murder takes place at their university, Elphaba is forced to choose between a life of “normality” with her friends and sister or to fight the despotic Wizard and his forces and goes into hiding after a meeting with him. This is just the start of the tale.

The book has a little bit of everything, romance, magic, philosophy, politics and adventure, and until the later sections is quite a good read. Watching her story unfold and her character change and grow is really enjoyable, although there were large parts of the story which could have been omitted or condensed where it was a struggle to stop myself from grabbing Tina Fey’s Bossypants from my opposite bedside table. If you’ve seen the musical don’t get your hopes up too high - they’ve definitely changed the storyline and even some of the characters around – the novel and the musical are two very different creations. Not the best book I’ve read lately, but I’m glad I eventually got through it.

Unfortunate update: my sister and I aren't continuing our challenge to live below the line as I've come down with the mother of all colds/possibly the flu, and she thinks she might be coming down with it also. This doesn't mean you can't donate to the cause anyway... 

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