Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just When I Thought…

I spoke a bit too soon when I gave my opinion on Wicked. The first half was brilliant, but the other… perhaps too abstract and slow. It was as if, with the end approaching, the author simply threw up his hands and said, "This has gotten out of hand, now how do I kill her?" I really became attached to Elphaba because she was smart and had a big heart. Her life was tough, and her beliefs were mocked as paranoid, though all along she was spot-on. I was sure, after all her suffering that eventually something wonderful awaited her at her end of the rainbow.

Uh… not so much.

From a gratification standpoint this novel completely failed. Obviously there are many out there that love this from cover to cover, but I for one will not read any more of Maguire's novels. He hammered this poor girl relentlessly. Ok, for a short while she found a ray of happiness, but that was simply used to make her life even worse than it was. Even her friends were a disappointment, her family too. In the end I was well beyond depressed; I was disgusted.

In the first half Elphaba was in college. It wasn't easy being green, but she had finally made some good friends and was enjoyed for her wit. She was approached with an offer that could have made for an interesting second half, but the offer was barely a factor in the upcoming events. Later Elphaba found the Grimmerie, a book of magic from another world. Cool, I thought, this could get interesting! Nope. Another non-factor. In fact, nothing interesting happened whatsoever in the second half unless you enjoy watching someone you love wither and die from a terminal disease.

And the ending! What the hell? I'm convinced that the author got lost and had to wrap things up. What a total disappointment.

I remember once that a blog-buddy Janie read a short story of mine and told me to rewrite the ending because from a satisfaction standpoint it let her down that the protag had been dreaming all along. She wanted me to make it real instead. If I were a proof reader, my advice would be to live up to the promises made in the opening chapters. Let her be just a little bit capable.

It reminds me of an expression from an eighties ski movie, "We were small but we were slow."

This steaming kettle boils down to one word: bummer.

12 comments:

jason evans said...

I had a similar experience.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book to the middle. But, the book was presented to me as another view of the Wizard of Oz story. The same thing, but from another angle. In that sense, I thought the book was a failure, because much of Dorothy's involvement felt like a patched together afterthought. For me, the second half lost its focus and energy.

That said, the childhood and adolescence of Elphaba were wonderful!

Scott said...

Thanks, Jason. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one!

Toni Anderson said...

One of the reasons I love romances is I like the guaranteed happy ending. The stories are all different, but I get the pay off. A lot of authors don't understand that.

Haven't read this so can't comment

Miladysa said...

I hate that deflated feeling at the end of a book!

Beth said...

I so completely agree with your review that I'd say just like to add a big fat DITTO!!!!!

bookfraud said...

my (ostensible) literary agent represents gregory maguire, so i was really interested in what you thought of "wicked." i've heard others say that it's not all that, and interesting to see those sentiments echoed elsewhere.

interesting blog. not sure how i wandered over here.

mr. schprock said...

Aw, man, here I was, all set to read it, and then you have to go and say "ding dong the book is dead."

Just as well. I don't think I could read "Elphaba" too many times.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Don't read Lovely Bones then.

Jada's Gigi said...

Sorry bout wicked...I haven't read it but Ive heard as much...:) sounds like the skiis were a hit. fun..:) i haven't been skiing in years...something about the Poconos and my butt hitting the ice repeatedly...LOL

Alan said...

Well I FINALLY finished the book this morning, so I've read the whole post here and I can see your point pretty well.

I did go into it understanding what Elphaba's fate was going to turn out to be, so on that front I had immunity from being bummed. And I think the author did know what he was doing when, at the middlepoint, she entered the nunnery. The picture grew bleak and stayed that way afterwards, all the way through to the end. It become a series of failed goals and dead ends for her (as you mention here), with a healthy dose of her old jealousies and resentments poisoning her, and her sanity getting pitched to the left until finally her death was more of a blessed relief to her than a reason for we readers to want to lynch Dorothy. (I was pretty pissed at the Tin Man when he killed the wolves, though).

But your reaction is what I like about you--you've got the great big tender heart.

BTW, Mr. Schprock, the name "Elphaba" is explained as a way to pronounce the syllables of the original creator's initials "L. F(rank) Ba(um)." In the book, they call her a bunch of other permutations and nicknames as well. I thought those help serve to soften and humanize her in the readers' eyes too. After the midpoint, she ran out of people who cared. It was a great illustration of the need for family and community. I think that's why the author dragged us down.

Scott said...

Alan - I am really impressed with your insight into the book. Certainly as pure art it succeeds.

HoodieMan said...

Hi, this is Hoodie’s husband. I’m writing to ask your help in preparing a surprise for Hoodie’s upcoming birthday. I’m commenting on this old post in the hopes that she won’t see it and spoil the surprise. I am preparing a little book of tributes or praise of Hoodie that she can look at during the hard times to remember how much she is loved. If you would like to contribute, please email me your contribution by April 23. (her birthday is April 27) My email is hoodieman@live.com. Thanks for your help!