Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: YA/fantasy
Date Read: 21/07/2015 – 28/05/2015
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

dorothycoverI had really mixed feelings about this book. In and of itself, it wasn’t bad, but as an Oz adaptation, it fell a bit flat. And I’m not really even that up on my Oz stuff. I’ve described it to a couple of people who know far more about Oz than I do, and they didn’t sound too fussed.

The story centres on Amy Gumm, “the other girl from Kansas”, who ends up in an Oz that is vastly different from the one she knows from the movies. Dorothy was made a princess and has essentially taken over, power and magic going to her head. As someone else from Dorothy’s world, Amy is given the task of killing her and restoring Oz to its former glory. But to do this, she has to face the Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion first.

The back cover blurb on the book talks about Amy being given a mission. The fact of the matter is that this mission is only presented to her in the last 50 pages or so of the book. A lot of the book centres on her learning her own magic skills, and then infiltrating the Emerald City to get close to Dorothy. But I will give you this spoiler: Dorothy isn’t dead by the end (you probably figured that, since there’s at least one sequel).

The main issue I had with this book, I think, is that it felt so far removed from any Oz that I knew. I kept thinking of Gregory Maguire’s book, Wicked, where Oz may be grimmer and darker, but is still instantly recognisable as Oz. Now, like I said, I haven’t read many of the Oz books, but I got the feeling that Danielle Paige was essentially doing her own world-building around a few recognisable characters and locations and calling it Oz. The magic all felt a bit too contemporary to be inspired by a magic system invented for books written a hundred years ago.

I did quite like Amy, and most of the side characters. The alternate versions of Dorothy’s three companions were also actually quite good. The Scarecrow was now an inventor due to his brains, the Tinman is the head of Dorothy’s army and also hopelessly in love with her (thanks to his heart), and the Lion is now near invincible due to his ability to feed off the fear of others. It was Dorothy herself whose characterisation I didn’t like. Think someone like Cher from Clueless, except if she was also a heartless tyrant in control of an entire world. Dorothy was either doling out awful punishments and threatening to kill people, or she is getting her nails done and her hair brushed. It was a bit jarring, and I just couldn’t see turn-of-the-20th-century farm-girl Dorothy Gale becoming that kind of twenty-first century preppy ditz.

I was also in Amy’s side in regards to her treatment by those who were training her; they insisted that only she could kill Dorothy, but they never told her what the plan was. She went ahead and made a choice that she thought would be a good idea at the time, which ended up screwing up the plan. Well, maybe if she’d known…! And instead of an apology, she just got continually told off by those who then swooped in to fix everything.

As I said, this story wasn’t so bad in and of itself, and I didn’t mind spending the time reading it, but I don’t think I’ll be hurrying off to read the sequel. I’d actually probably prefer to sit down and read some more of the original Oz books.

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