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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Victoria Reviews: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die is one of those books that turned me into a very irresponsible person.  No matter what else I was supposed to be doing, I could hardly put the book down.  What started as “Well, let’s read a chapter just to see what this book is like before I start my homework” turned into four hours and fifty pages of procrastination before I even realized what was happening.  Coupled with a cliffhanger ending that left me with a raging book hangover, reading this book felt like having a house dropped on you, though in a good way, if that’s at all possible.

The book draws you into the world of Oz, though it’s not as wonderful as you might think.  Amy Gumm, a bullied and rough-around-the-edges Kansas girl, is dropped smack into Oz one day after a tornado hits her house and carries her away.  Sound a bit familiar?  But instead of being greeted with a magical land of munchkins and good witches, Amy Gumm finds Oz a place of waste and ruin.  It seems that the story didn’t end after The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy came back, and she isn’t nearly as sweet and innocent anymore.  Forced to band together with a ragtag group of Wicked Witches, Amy is tasked with the assassination with the now power-hungry Dorothy.  But Amy questions her own power and ability. Can she get close enough to Dorothy without being caught and executed?  Does she have it in her to actually kill someone?

Paige paints a vivid picture of Dorothy’s Oz.  Her descriptions are beautiful and terrible all in one as she tears down the magic and beauty of the Oz that fans of Baum’s books or the Judy Garland film have come to know and cherish.  As a fan of both, being able to really picture the destruction of Oz was quite personal, and it made me all the more sympathetic to Amy’s mission.  Dorothy herself is in ruin as well, though you wouldn’t know it from the perfection of her hair, outfit, and nails.  Paige’s Dorothy brings to mind every pretty, smiling face that ever hid mean and evil intentions.  Dorothy’s smiling cruelty is almost too easy to hate; I found myself agreeing with the book’s title almost immediately after meeting her.  But Dorothy’s evilness makes Amy’s continued hesitancy to kill her all the more admirable.  Despite all the terrible things Dorothy does, Amy is still able to have some small bit of faith that some goodness must still exist in her.  At the same time, Amy must face the fear that she herself could easily become just as corrupt as Dorothy.  Her worries and emotions feel real and relatable.  Everyone who has ever had to face down a bully will be able to see a bit of themselves in Amy.  She may be tough, but her insecurities are very real and evident.

I wish I could say something about the book’s ending, but of course, I don’t want to spoil anything.  Let’s just say that I didn’t even realize that the book was the beginning of a series until I turned the last page and found a blank one after it.  The story builds and builds straight through the ending, and it left me feeling less like I’d finished the first book in a series and more like I was missing the second half of this book.  I ended the book with a fierce craving for more.

Overall, despite my book hangover, I enjoyed the book.  It’s definitely a page-turner, and I found myself quickly lost in Paige’s Oz.  Fans of A.G. Howard’s Splintered series especially might enjoy this twisted take on another beloved classic.

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