Welcome back to #ThrowbackThursdayBookstagram! This week features WICKED by Gregory Maguire.
This book launched in 1995, and it currently has 585,404 ratings (and 25,303 reviews) on Goodreads. That’s pretty impressive. I didn’t read the book in 1995. No, it wasn’t until after my youngest was born (and well after Wicked came to Broadway) that I thought to pick up this book to see what the hype was all about.
For me, it didn’t live up to the hype, but at the same time, I think I expected something different from what the book intended to be. I didn’t expect so much backstory, which made the first part of the book heavy. I also didn’t expect a character to be named Melena, so I kept coming back to that. Would people think I named my fourth child (Melina) after a character in Wicked? Of course, if they did (which they did not; as of right now, almost fourteen years after her birth, literally no one has asked me that), who cares?
What I did like about the book is getting to know Elphaba. In the film version of The Wizard of Oz (I did not read the book), the Wicked Witch of the West was a pretty flat character. That story wasn’t hers, so it made sense. But a writing teacher and friend of mine always says, “Make sure people understand and empathize with your villain,” and with Wicked, Maguire allowed that to happen. Digging into her psyche and understanding where she came from appealed to me. I also enjoyed how thought-provoking this book was. When people are born a little different, how does society treat them? And if Elphaba had been treated differently from the beginning, as humans would with “typical” babies, what sort of person would she have been as an adult? As a scientist, I kept revisiting the nature versus nurture debate and wondering what an alternate universe in Elphaba’s story would look like.
While I didn’t read any more books in the series, I’d recommend at least trying this book.
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