Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is an Oz sequel with a bit of a twist.

Amy Gumm is just an average poor girl from Kansas. She lives in a trailer park, shops at the thrift store, and is bullied by the mean girl in her class. Her mom is an addict, hardly functional, so Amy has been acting as head of the household since she was 13. When a tornado sweeps through town and deposits Amy in Oz, there's a large part of her that doesn't want to look back -- no "there's no place like home" for her. But Oz isn't the cheery land of movie and storybook that Amy expects: towns have been reduced to vacant ruins, dangers are everywhere, and the few people Amy does meet are cryptic and unfriendly. The source of all of this misery is, of course, Dorothy Gale, the other girl from Kansas. Apparently, home wasn't all it was cracked up to be for Dorothy, either, because she has returned to Oz and now rules beside Ozma (who she's somehow reduced to a mere puppet-like figure) as a princess, demanding every good thing for herself (including the land's magic) and withholding it from everyone else. The Cowardly Lion leads an army of beasts to enforce her wishes, and the Tin Woodsman has a troupe of metal soldiers who protect her. Meanwhile, the Scarecrow bends his powerful brain to scientific experimentation, creating mutants and fiendish devices for Dorothy as she relishes her life of luxury. Obviously, something has to be done, but is Amy the one to do it? She may be from the same place as Dorothy, but she's equipped with neither magic nor fighting skills -- at least, not until she falls into the hands of the Order of the Wicked, a group of witches and fighters dedicated to one goal: Dorothy must die.
Now, I have to admit: I'm no Oz aficionado. I neither reverence the original nor adore the Wicked version (though, to be fair, I haven't seen the musical yet, so I suppose that could change). In terms of fantasy lands, give me Wonderland, give me the Enchanted Forest, give me Neverland, give me (please O please give me) Narnia, but Oz? Meh. I couldn't tell you the difference between a Quadling and a Gillikin if one came up and poked me in the nose. So I'm not fussed about any authorial depredations on Oz and its inhabitants, nor am I bothered by Dorothy coming back and being evil. What does bother me about this book, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you: the GINORMOUS CLIFFHANGER at the end of the book. That bothers me. Sure, there were times when I found the characterization a little flat, and the pacing, though generally good, lagged once or twice. But all of that pales in comparison with the GINORMOUS CLIFFHANGER. I did find the premise of a dystopian Oz interesting, and I think this book will appeal to teens (there's a hot guy or two and some fighting), but did I mention that it ends in a GINORMOUS CLIFFHANGER? Because anyone like me, going into the book not realizing it was the beginning of a series, might be a bit put out at that. But if you're fascinated by the concept and not bothered by books that end in a GINORMOUS CLIFFHANGER, you might want to give this a try.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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