Hey, y’all! I know, I know, I haven’t been posting in a while. I meant to post sometime last week, being that it is my spring break, but I fell sick and couldn’t do anything (and let me tell you, falling sick at the beginning of allergy season is not a good idea).
Anyway, I’m here now. I’ve been wanting to do this book review for a long time (as well as another one on a book that I actually lent to a friend three days ago, so it might take a while). I read this book about a month ago after several recommendations from friends, and I saw it on the shelf one day, so I decided to pick it up. As with all new books (for some reason), I hesitated to start reading right away, because I did not know this author or this style. Once I started reading, though, I instantly loved it. First, let me start with the summary in the book:
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.
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.
It is a teen read, and a spectacular one at that. Danielle Page developed the plot beautifully in Dorothy Must Die. Putting a spin on the classic Wizard of Oz tale that we all grew up with, she turned sweet little Dorothy into a greedy, power-hungry, manipulative monarch determined to suck all the magic out of Oz. Her protagonist is Amy, a poor girl from Kansas who wanted nothing more than to get out of her trashy little town and strike out on her own for a better life. Amy, suddenly yanked out of her old life by a freak tornado and into Oz, is forced to roll with it, because she certainly doesn’t want to go back to a mother who barely cares about her, a trailer she can hardly call home, and kids who bully her every chance they get. However, she’s from Kansas, and before long it becomes apparent that she must face Dorothy, one way or another. When the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked recruits her to kill Dorothy, she finds more than she’s bargained for, and realizes it’ll take more than just her to rid Oz of Dorothy.
I love this book not only for the captivating plot, but also for the message hidden in this. Throughout the book, Amy is held back only by her own doubts, due to her background. She hears the words of everyone who’s ever scorned her, thinks that she can’t do it because of who she is – or, who she isn’t. She doesn’t think she’s cut out to be witch material. Paige uses Amy’s skeptics (which includes herself) to convey the message that you should not be held back by your own fears and doubts, but that you can do whatever you set your mind to. I know, it sounds a little like an overused theme, but it doesn’t seem that way in this book.
Also, the book doesn’t focus so much on romance as it does the actual plot and events of the story. There is subtle underlying one there, but it’s not the main focus of the book, but rather a side thing, with furthers the character development even more. Paige pulled it off beautifully, using the more-than-friends-but-not-yet-a-romance type thing to reveal aspects of characters you’d never know without it, but sides of them that are vital to the whole story.
“Now, Amy,” Dorothy was saying. “This is very, very important – and I need you to be completely honest with me.” She casually began to amble over to the empty throne next to Ozma’s, where she sat, tossed her head, and crossed her legs.
If I hadn’t read the story, I wouldn’t believe that she had ever lived on a farm. She had shed that girl long ago and replaced it with a poised, haughty princess. Her neck stretched upward as if she were searching for the perfect light. Her voice was perky, but there was a threat lurking somewhere in there, too.
I steeled myself for whatever she was going to ask, getting the distinct impression that she would be able to see through any lie.
“What do you think of my hair?” she demanded. She ran a long red nail through one of her curls.
She had to be kidding.
“Well?” she asked.
She wasn’t kidding. My life was about to be judged by how sincerely I delivered a trivial compliment.
Luckily, I had a lot of practice with humoring popular girls. Madison Pendleton had taught me well.
“It’s so pretty,” I said sweetly. “And so shiny!” I added for good measure when she looked unconvinced.
Dorothy smiled and clapped her hands together and leaned over to Ozma with an expression of deep confidentiality. “Ozma likes my hair, too,” she said in a stage whisper. Ozma just stared ahead with an unchanging expression.
Feeling like I was on a roll, I decided to keep going. Maybe flattery would get me somewhere – for instance, the hell out of here. “I’ve read tons about you. I saw the movie like a million times.”
Dorothy beamed. “Really? What do you mean?”
“Oh, you know,” I replied shakily. “You’re, like, an icon where I come from.”
Suddenly she narrowed her eyes at me. “And where, exactly, is that?” she asked.
“Kansas,” I said. “The United States.”
Her face instantly darkened. “Kansas,” she said slowly. “You’re from Kansas.”
“You’ve heard of it?” I asked, a hint of unwise sarcasm creeping into my voice. I knew it was the wrong thing to say, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s my greatest weakness: I never can.
“And how did you get here from Kansas, Miss Gumm?” she said sharply.
She arched an overplucked eyebrow and cocked her head, waiting for my answer. In my pocket, I felt Star wriggling, and I squeezed her tightly, hoping that she would get the message to calm down. I had a pretty good feeling the princess wouldn’t take kindly to the fact that I had brought a rodent into her royal court.
Star cooled it, thank goodness, bit she had momentarily distracted me and now Dorothy was waiting for her answer. She cleared her throat testily. “What brought you here, Miss Gumm. Don’t make me repeat myself.”
I knew I should have made up a lie. But what was the point now? I had a feeling they knew more about me than they were letting on anyway. It was probably the only reason I was alive and Indigo wasn’t.
“A tornado,” I said, mustering a smile.
The hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention. Inside the pocket of my hoodie, I felt Star quivering. I was pretty sure they didn’t know about her at least.
“Why you little…liar,” Dorothy spat. “How dare you!”
I opened my mouth to lie – an actual lie this time. To say that no, I hadn’t come from Kansas at all.
It was too late. Dorothy’s face was burning with aggrieved rage. “I am the only one. There can only be one.”
My gut twisted. I understood. We had the same story. It was like we were wearing the same dress to the prom. Only it wasn’t a party. Dorothy thought her landing here was fate – that it made her special. Another girl from Kansas meant that it was just a regular occurrence and that she wasn’t special at all. Or – worse – that I was here to take her place.
I did my best to scramble, trying not to trip over my words. “Your Highness, I’m just a regular girl from Kansas. I’m nothing like you. You’re a princess. Look at you. Me, I’m not interested in that. I just want to be myself – I’d never want anything that you have.”
I was only trying to placate her, but as I spoke the words I realized they were true. I didn’t want anything Dorothy had. I didn’t want to be anything like her.
Dorothy hooted in derision. “More lies! If you come from where I come from, all you do is want. And if you had even the smallest taste of what I have, you would never stop wanting.”
She tapped the tip of one of her shoes as if to illustrate her point. “There can only be one,” she repeated through gritted teeth.
Dorothy rose to her feet. Her face was pinched with barely suppressed fury. “Take her away,” she said.
Okay, maybe not so quick. Sorry it’s so long.
I would definitely give this book a 5 out of 5 for its outstanding plot and character development and the theme it cuts across. I certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a good fantasy teen read. 😀
Next book in the series: The Wicked Will Rise