Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The "Wicked" Trilogy

For those of you who are familiar with the musical, "Wicked," you may be aware that it is based (loosely) on a book by Gregory Maguire, which was first published about 13 years ago.
When the first book "Wicked" came out in paperback in 2000, I picked up a copy, read it, and deemed it my most favoritest book in the entire universe.
So a few months ago, I picked up a copy and re-read it. What can I say but, WHAT was I thinking? I had forgotten that Mr. Maguire wrote a story spread so thin that the reader doesn't have the time to connect with the main character. Every event in Elphaba's life (in the book) is so frivolous and seems to offer no real recourse that the reader is trained not to care about any situation she finds herself in. I haven't seen the musical yet, but I am familiar with the plot. Had Mr. Maguire written his book in the same manner that the musical is produced, it might have been more engaging. I found that not only did I not care about the majority of the characters, but I was almost wishing that they would all just die so that the story could concentrate on just a few characters, instead of like... 60.
I think the biggest annoyance of all regarding "Wicked" is that Gregory Maguire wrote a book with too many plots. There's about 10 different story lines tied into the Elphaba character, and none of them are resolved in the end. When Elphaba dies, all the unanswered questions die with her. Again, the author has trained the reader not to care about the things that he writes about, because the reader eventually (not soon enough for me, unfortunately) figures out that everything that happens doesn't matter at all.
I was so disappointed when I re-read the book. When I found out he had written a sequel, I reluctantly decided to read it, in hopes that he would continue with the story that he so abruptly dropped in the first book. You'd think I would learn. The second book, "Son Of A Witch," follows the story of Liir, who may or may not be the son of Elphaba and Fyero. In the spirit of the first novel, the second is crammed so full of mundane scenes that have nothing to do with anything, really, that I found myself not caring about anything that happened to this kid.
I was also hoping to read more about the characters introduced in the first book, but there were almost none to be found. I found myself wanting the main character to have some involvement with familiar names, but instead, the reader has to meet dozens of new characters, and try to learn to like them instead. The only real re-occurring character is a woman by the name of Yackle, who just happens to be around during so called "important" events in both Elphaba's and Liir's lives. I kept hoping that there would come a point in the book that would make ANY of the rambling that had gone on thus far even REMOTELY valid! So the second book ended in the same fashion as the first- no resolutions... TO ANYTHING. It was seriously lacking in climax.
OKAY. SO... onto the third book in the series, "A Lion Among Men." This book followed the Cowardly Lion, (aptly named "Brr") from infancy to adulthood. The story barely dives into the plots of the previous books. The story absolutely did not resolve anything introduced in the others stories. And worst of all, Brr is written to make the reader hate him. Whenever the Lion was given the opportunity to have a quality the reader might consider to be heroic or even likable, Mr. Maguire makes damn sure that it's quickly twisted around to make the Lion seem uneducated, repugnant, and unpopular.
I didn't finish the third book, because in giving Mr. Maguire the benefit of the doubt, I continued reading in hopes that his writing would get better, and some sort of solid tale could be told. I guess I'm just not a fast learner. It took me two and half books to realize that nothing will come of that plot. I will be truly TRULY amazed if somehow, in the last 100 pages of his third book he manages to tie up all the loose plots, and make the reader feel like they hadn't wasted their time.
But that's just my opinion. If anyone wants to borrow my copies of all three of these books, they're available. That way you can at least say you've read them. I haven't seen the show, like I said, but if I had, I might say (for the first time ever) I WISH THE BOOK WAS MORE LIKE THE SHOW!


EmSuzy said...

I loved the show. The book was okay but you write it like a bad thing.

Nicole said...

I got as far as finishing the first book - it was a STRUGGLE to read, but I was determined to finish it. I liked about the first half, then suffered through the rest!

Loved the musical though. VERY loosely based!

Nicole said...

Oh, and I love your blog name!