I’ve seen this book around but never thought of it much past “might be interesting to read down the road”. Well, we were at the book store and they had the SECOND book on clearance for like $5 so I grabbed it. Not the first time I’ve read a book further in the series before the first, so I figured I could fill in the holes. But my husband saw it in my hands and made me look for the first one, which he bought me. So, I have the first two books of a series I’ve never read by an author I’m not familiar with. This is usually a bigger risk than I like to take, but here we are.
For the most part, it’s an interesting book. It is basically a published fanfiction, so if you’re very purist, you will not like this series. I really liked the fact Paige took the standard story and flipped it on it’s head – making Dorothy and her band the evil ones, and the witches are the good ones (ish, read the book and you’ll get it). And for a reason, not a retcon.
Taking place in Kansas, our heroine is a high school girl named Amy Gumm. One one hand, Amy is your standard typical YA female lead. Unpopular, clothes bought second-hand, no friends, etcetera etcetera. But, it wasn’t used to make the popular guy fall for her awkwardness, so point for that. What I really liked with the stereotypical YA girl was her mother is an addict. Amy describes her life looking after her mother after a bender, how their budget is drugs first and everything else later (hence the second hand stuff), etc. Most of the YA books that I have read don’t really touch on this subject (not saying it’s not out there, just that I personally haven’t read any), so it’s reaching out to a forgotten minority, which I love. But it also makes the rest of the story a little more believable. Lots of people send their heroine into a new magical world and she just falls in love with the first pretty boy and never looks back. Amy’s mother abandoned her during a tornado, so she believed there was nothing for her to go back to. Her mother didn’t want her, no father in the picture, no friends, no ties to Kansas.
Her poor little trailer ends up landing on the edge of a cliff and a mystery boy pulls her out before it falls. She is officially cut away from everything in her past life. But Oz isn’t how the books described it (in this world the books and movie exist, just no one realizes they are real). It’s barren, dead, and its citizens are nothing more than slaves. Munchkin town is empty save for one straggling girl.
She helps Amy learn that Dorothy came back to Oz, but not for a noble reason. She was addicted. To magic. Wheedling her way into the royal family, she becomes the Ruler of oz. Her group, including Glinda, work for her. The Tin Man and Lion are horrific hunters, looking for people that break Dorothy’s hundreds of idiotic rules (no sass …I’d be screwed). The Scarecrow has become something close to a mad scientist. Experimenting on people and creatures alike, binding them to machines, turning them into weapons. Glinda runs the mining operations, draining Oz of it’s natural magic so only Dorothy has access.
The witches in hiding find Amy and, cliche, believe she is some kind of chosen one who can defeat Dorothy. A cliche I will forgive since it works for the story.
As cliche and sometimes annoying as it is, I really enjoyed the twisted take on this book. I actually drew a dystopian version of the characters a while ago for work, so I love dark and apocalyptic versions of childhood characters. So I am actually curious about how the rest of the series will go!