Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die Series
Publish Date: April 1st, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Retellings, Young Adult
I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.
The novel centers around Amy Gumm, a high school student whose house is carried away by a tornado. She finds herself in Oz, but not the Oz she remembers from The Wizard of Oz. As she ventures down the yellow brick road and begins her journey, Amy realizes that the munchkins are living in fear and the world around her is beginning to die. She soons discovers Dorothy to be the source of these issues. Having returned from Kansas, Dorothy assumed the throne and serves as the tyrranical ruler of Oz, oppressing those whom she once called friends. Magic once filled much of Oz, existing in the plants, animals, etc. before Dorothy began harnessing it for her own use. Aided by the scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion, Dorothy shows no signs of letting up, leading the people to one conclusion: Dorothy must die.
While I’m a huge fan of fairy tale and classic retellings, I had yet to read a spin-off of Baum’s Wizard of Oz, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The title and cover alone signalled that there would be a bit more violence involved and, potentially, that someone had developed murderous tendencies. I think my open-minded approach paid off, allowing me to enjoy the unique twist on one of my favorite classics. I particularly liked the redesigned characters, such as the scarecrow and his maniacal addiction to performing experiments on live specimen, the tin man and his mismatched “army” of tin soldiers to enforce the law, and the lion with his feasting on the fear of the munchkins. As a result, the novel certainly assumed a dark, mysterious tone and isn’t for the faint of heart (there’s plenty of blood and guts to go around).
The plot was extremely fast-paced, which helped to hold my attention while I was reading (I was also simultaneously studying for finals and AP exams, so it was nice to have a bit of a break). However, there were a few sections in the middle of the book that slower and less interesting (aka magical training). These portions could easily have been excluded, shortening the book by 50-75 pages. I’m also wondering how the plot is going to be stretched into a 3 book series – something tells me a duology might work better based upon the pacing of Dorothy Must Die.
Nevertheless, the novel certainly has its fair share of twists and turns, the majority of which I did not see coming. There were quite a few backstabbing characters who broke off alliances just as quickly as they made them, creating an even thicker cloud of doubt and mystery. The horrific cliff hanger at the end of the book has me effectively hooked, and, consequently, I shall be off to Barnes and Noble to purchase the sequel later today.
As the protagonist, Amy reminded me of a rebellious teenager who refuses to take advice from or follow the demands of her parents. Except the “parents” in this situation are the handful of people that can keep Amy alive. Yet she freely chooses to do the exact opposite of what she is told, leading to more than one sticky situations. While this made her character unpredictable and quite realistic (admit it, you still hate acknowledging that other people are right), it also became a bit frustrating, particularly when Amy’s decisions blew up in her face. However, she does manage to redeem herself with her sassy remarks and independent, kick-ass attitude.
Dorothy Must Die came extremely close to earning a full five stars, but I had a few qualms with the characters and attempted romance as the book drew to a close. First and foremost, Dorothy. The inhabitants of Oz reiterated time and time again how evil and tyrannical Dorothy had become. Was she power hungry? Yes. Did she let things get to her head? Absolutely. Would I deem her “evil?” Not exactly – more of a dictatorial teenager who took her anger out on others. None of her actions immediately screamed “EVIL,” so I was a little confused regarding her character development. Perhaps she truly does have a wicked streak, and it just hasn’t made itself apparent yet – I guess I’ll find out in the next installment!
Similarly, the pitiful “romance” between Amy and Nox made me want to gag. They both seemed embarrassed about their attraction toward one another and not entirely sure how to convey their true feelings. This led to numerous uncomfortable encounters and even an awkward kiss, leaving me with the strong urge to slowly slink out of the room. Needless to say, their “relationship” was also fairly boring. They kissed…once…horrors. It didn’t really develop throughout the novel, and, quite frankly, I could’ve gone without it. I think the insta-love romance simply pulled focus from the adventurous aspect of the book.
While I would definitely recommend Dorothy Must Die, I’m not sure that it would appeal to everyone due to the author’s highly tailored twist on The Wizard of Oz and some of the subject matter discussed throughout the book. From what I’ve read in reviews, it seems that readers either are completely enthralled by the novel or absolutely despise it, so it’s worth a shot!