Dorothy Must Die – Review

All these twists on classic tales have me excited.

I’ve heard about a few, but Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is the first one I’ve read. And to be perfectly honest, we got off to a rocky start…

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

Reading the beginning of this book, I wasn’t impressed at all. I felt like the concept of Dorothy and the tale of Oz was far too heavy and overt to seem reasonable. This girl – Amy – has no idea her life is about to change by being whisked away to Oz, but is coincidentally  making all these references and allusions to that very story and place? Unbelievable. I felt like things were happening far too quickly and prematurely. Amy was entirely too accepting of her situation in a world she’d assumed was purely fictional – it’s frustrating when the main character refuses to accept what’s right under her nose, but in reading this book, I realized that when the character all too willingly accepts, it’s equally frustrating.

By now I’d given up on the idea that I was dreaming (38)

Voice in my head: Given up? Did you ever start?!

As I was reading, Amy seemed to be a character I simply could not stand. Too pliant, naive, slow-thinking, with an odd emotional reaction to certain events. All the money she’s saved up for quite some time is gone: hardly blinks. Alcohol-dependent mother last seen driving away pre-tornado: hardly spares a thought to her safety. All these are things that turn me off in a protagonist.

But Amy changes. She became a character I could admire. She persevered, became clever, thinking and making quick decisions. I liked seeing the change, but if I had given up on the book as I had contemplated, I never would have gotten to see the change. So, in terms of our main character, I just wish her starting point hadn’t been so unlikeable. The end result, though, is someone I can’t wait to follow through the rest of the series.

The other characters seemed to fall pretty much into the background. There was nothing too spectacular about them. I liked the innovation and twist on the Oz characters: the Lion, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman. I thought they were creative and well-thought out, but they didn’t blow me out of my rocking chair. The same for Nox and the Revolutionary Order. Pete was someone I wanted to just go away and not come back until he had something to say that wasn’t entirely cryptic.

So you’re probably wondering: She didn’t really like the main character until halfway through the book, and the rest of the characters were nothing special to her. So why did she like this book?

The plot. It’s not usual for a plot to save the book, for me personally. Usually I can bear a weak plot if I have strong, relatable or likeable characters to carry me through, but if a character isn’t doing it for me, the storyline can become somewhat uninteresting. Not in this case.

I thought the concept of Dorothy Must Die was very unique. Not just viewing a classic story from a different perspective, but twisting the ending, making the story not entirely – or rather, not at all what we thought it was. The plot was a little slow at the beginning, but it surprised in the way it picked up with me hardly realizing it. It took me around three days to read the first 200 pages, and only a few hours to read the last 200!

All of a sudden, I found myself invested in Amy and in the outcome; I was sitting up in bed when things got too tense, laughing, cringing, shouting out and hoping nobody barged in out of concern and interrupted me. This book turned out to be an underdog, and I am so glad I decided to stick with this book.

Now I’ve got to read the first prequel, There’s No Place Like Oz, and wait for the release of The Witch Must Burn, the second prequel novella out in November of this year, which give us a look at just what happened when Dorothy returned to Oz…


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