Book: Out of Oz

"Out of Oz" by Gregory MaguireOnce peaceful and prosperous, the sepctacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy.

Yet amidst all this chaos, Elphaba’s granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now it is up to Rain to take up her broom–and her legacy–in an Oz wracked by war.

What can I say about the final book off Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years series? It’s easier to read than the three that came before it–but it’s not as impressive as its predecessors… The first two, anyway. I mean, I liked it. Enough. And it is a good end to the series. But, for some reason, I lost the sense of wonderment that I had while reading Wicked and Son of a Witch. I guess Gregory Maguire’s version of Oz has lost its novelty for me.

Then again, it’s great that I was no longer seeing the series as something that was just novel–but for it to happen with this book? The one that actually has a couple of winks to the fans of the Wicked musical? I guess it was just wrong timing. I could’ve kept the wonderment for one more book. After all, this is the last one. Right?

The first three books from the series all had its central characters. In Out of Oz, we have none. Well, all. I mean, most of them are central. But because so many of the characters are important, we never really focus on one character at a single time. Even when the narrative latches on to Rain, Elphaba’s granddaughter, she’s still part of a party. The only character to have a semblance of centrality (is that a word?) is Lady Glinda.

We start the story with Glinda’s point of view, as it is with her that Rain begins her journey–and it is also with her that events get propelled faster forward. After her chapter, we begin the shared stories of Rain, of Nor, of the Cowardly Lion, as well as those of Liir and Candle. Oh, and let’s not forget Dorothy. While we unravel this new Oz that we’re given, we also unravel the mystery of Rain’s upbringing–and her destiny. And while this main plot is centered on Rain, it is through the other characters that it is given life.

So is Rain the central character? I guess we can debate on that. But, for me personally, I found the Cowardly Lion more central to the story than Rain. Even though it’s Rain that has the destiny, it’s the Cowardly Lion who actually pushes the story along–through his courage, masked as cowardice.

Out of Oz is beautifully written. The plot pacing is mostly even. The characters are pretty fleshed out–though Nanny continues to frustrate the hell out of me. And the story is a fitting end to the Wicked series. And yet, there’s something about the book that just doesn’t speak to me. I’m not raving about this book as I was with the first three. Well, with the first two.

But this is just me reacting to the book. If you want actual reviews, why don’t you try the following sites?
USA Today
The Washington Post
The Boston Globe

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