brain detail

Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

I went up to Baguio with family over the weekend, where we stayed at an underused vacation house without an internet connection. Panicked, withdrawal-induced convulsions aside, my short retreat was exactly what I needed. image

Finally got around to reading Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, which has been sitting on my shelf since it was gifted to me back in 2009.

I’m not particularly big on theater (and have never seen the musical) or fantasy worlds (apart from Game of Throne’s Westeros) so I expected Wicked to be a taxing read, the kind that compensated with the promise of condescending remarks (“I don’t get the whole Wicked thing, honestly…”).

I actually had to go back and read the original L. Frank Baum story before I could even attempt to read Wicked, which starts out exactly like I thought / dreaded it would. The tense, early morning conversation between Melena, beautiful, neurotic, and her preacher husband Frexspar dragged the narrative along a bit slowly, and I thought it continued at that pace for most of the first chapter. By the beginning of the second chapter though, I found myself reading faster than I have anything in a long time. This maybe has something to do with the fact that a large chunk of the middle of the book is set in Elphaba’s (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) college years at Shiz University, a convincingly realistic one, as far as universities where Goats teach Life Science go.

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By the end of the book, I found myself rooting more for the Witch than anyone else. Even though I knew how the story would end, the author had a way of making me hope, still, that Elphaba triumphs. When I finished, the green dye from the edge of the pages stained my palms a bit, but I didn’t mind at all.