Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tea Time: Dorothy Must Die

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Dorothy Must Die, Danielle Paige

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.(source:goodreads)

Cover-There are kind of no words for what they did for the cover. On the basest level, it's completely simplistic: Dorothy's iconic blue-and-white plaid dress, right? Simple.

And then.

They mussed it up that layer of dirt to make it look super grungy. Add the red text. Then the whole "Die" thing just looks awesome in all of its scrawly font and that's all there is to say about this cover.

It's simple and gorgeous and gets the point of the book across basically on point. Like, there's nothing to make you believe that this isn't a book on the dark side, and it's absolutely perfect.

Narrative-DOROTHY MUST DIE is told from the first person point of view of our snarky and sarcastic protagonist, Amy Gumm. The first thing that jumped out at me was her voice, too; I could practically hear the Midwestern accent dripping off every word I read, and that's without any of the kinds of sayings or metaphors that are dominantly from the area she grew up in.

I think that's what I appreciated so much about this aspect of the book. Amy Gumm's voice was extremely strong, which sucked me right into the book from page one. She felt real, and I honestly would not object to hunting this girl down and being her friend because she's that awesome.

So, yeah. I give this part a pretty high score, too.

Plot-In a sentence: DOROTHY MUST DIE is a twisted and nightmarish version of the Oz that we all thought we knew.  The cowardly lion strikes fear into anyone who hears him coming, the Tin Man is a patchwork of sharp pieces complete with his own army of macabre Tin Soldiers, and the Scarecrow steals his brains from his unfortunate experiments while playing with their anatomy. Of course, they and the rest of Oz are under the evil and terrifying dictator of the beautiful little lady we all know and (*ahem*) love(?), Dorothy.

This book is so creepy and gruesome and fantastic.

I'm a sucker for gory books. I mean, give me a movie like Saw and I'll never sleep again, even if I only see the first five minutes. Put Saw into a book? Gimme. Seriously.

Like I said, this book is gruesome. So gruesome that I was reading before bed and said, "I'll just finish this chapter." That chapter ended with a scene that involves bubbles that make your skin and flesh melt right off your bones, and I laid down, stared at the ceiling and said, "Nope." so I read another chapter, and then another, until I was at a relatively calm stopping point. And it really takes a lot to freak me out.

Okay, enough of how horrifying this place is (but seriously, Paige did a fantastic job in re-imagining an old childhood classic and putting it into words). The plot centers around Amy Gumm as she's mysteriously taken to Oz in the same way as Dorothy: a twister picked up her house and tossed her down. Then she meets a few odd and awesome characters, witnesses some slightly (*cough*) horrific things, meets Dorothy, and is broken out of prison by a trio of witches and a young warlock who all happen to have the same goal in mind: kill Dorothy.

And they need Amy to do it.

The fun begins when they teach her magic and everything she needs to know to infiltrate Dorothy's castle in Oz. The real fun begins when you realize that Amy's kind of just...bait?

Said with a question mark because by the end, nobody's really sure why the rest of the witches of Oz needed Amy, or what their plans for her are. And poor Amy's just kind of sitting in Dorothy's castle with her pet rat and a maid uniform going: "Um?"

The last thing I want to comment on is the pacing, and it's also the thing I'm having the hardest time putting into words. When I discussed this book with my friend, Hannah, over at her blog, one of the things I remember mentioning was: "I love it, it was fantastic, I finished it in two days (and it's a freaking long book), but there's something missing." Now, I've thought about it and I don't think it's that something's "missing," per sey, but that something was off. In my opinion, there was slightly too much plot and not enough pages.

I say "slightly" for a reason. Part of it is that everything flowed really well. I went from one page to the next, one scene to the next, one chapter to the next completely sucked in and hooked. It wasn't until Amy actually got to Dorothy's palace undercover that I sat back for just a moment (remember, I read this really quickly) and thought: "Wow, Amy's changed really quickly."

Which lies my problem: she actually didn't change quickly. In reality, she was gone from her life in Kansas for at least six months. I'm under the impression that time in Ox works differently, so I'm thinking that she's maybe in Oz (from start of the book to the end) for anywhere between two and four months. So, in reality, she really didn't change too quickly she just learned and adapted to survive.

So what did I realize my problem was? The time thing. It just really got my mind all messed up because I don't think it was that easy to follow along with how much time was passing, so every now and again my head spun because it didn't feel like that much time had passed to me (the reader), which made Amy's character feel a little too pliable to the demands of the witches and Oz.

Still, I cannot deny that this is one of my favorite books.

Characters-Okay, normally I try to take a look at at least two characters, but for today's review I'm only going to look at Amy. Here's why:

DOROTHY MUST DIE is a long book, and it's complicated. There's more than ten characters that I could argue are extremely important in some way, either because they're an enemy, a friend, a friend who's actually an enemy, an enemy who's actually a friend, and any combination thereof. There's random characters standing by, some who show up for a scene or two and then disappear or die (or worse), and yet even these guys I have a sense are involved and important in some way. This book is a web of mystery, which provides one of the reasons I love it so much.

Which means that I just talked about 95% of the characters right there in that sentence, which has all good things. I mean, there's Dorothy, the Tinman, the Lion, the Scarecrow, Glinda, Glinda's twin sister (Glamora), two other witches with strange motives, a warlock, the Wizard, a flying monkey, Ozma, a rather interesting maid, and this one guy you meet randomly throughout the book but have no clue who he is ever (although by the end you get some ideas). It's a handful, and there's no way I will ever be able to accurately describe any of them simply because I have no clue. By the end of the book, you think you have an eye on them but you know you're wrong.

So I'm not even trying: just know they're all an extremely interesting bunch, and seriously none of them are who they say they are.

Okay, you know what? I'm a hypocrite because I really want to talk about Dorothy for a moment. She's evil, pure evil. You can just tell after Amy walks through Oz and sees the land. The punishments, the stupid decrees, and even her attitude is rotten from the inside out. At the same time, by the end of the book I couldn't actually hate her because Paige did a rather wonderful job of making you pity her.

That's right. You'll pity her.

Anyway, on to Amy: at first I wasn't sure how much I really liked her. While she was still in Kansas she seemed like every other teenage sob story. Yet when she got to Oz I was amazed by how quickly she was able to pull herself up by her bootstraps and say, "You know what? I have no clue where the hell I am or what's going on, but I'll entertain my crazy mind because the only way is forward." So she meets/finds people, tried to get some answers, gets herself into trouble, and basically faces the fact that she's not going home anytime soon but since she's seen first-hand the kinds of evil that Dorothy's inflicted on the land then sure, she'll help plan and carry out a murder.

Why not?

I mean, she's used to relying on herself and that's something that came through extremely clearly throughout the novel. She's much tougher by the end, sure, and willing to kill-which is something she never would have thought of back in Kansas-but the one thing she also does is stay true to herself in trusting her gut and knowing that while some might be pretending to be friends, the only one she should really trust is herself. That's a trait of hers that I really enjoyed watching, due to the way it grew stronger, weaker, and eventually balanced itself out.

Like I said: one of my new favorite books, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys some of the darker versions of re-tellings. Also: the sequel, THE WICKED WILL RISE, comes out at the end of March, 2015, and I cannot wait.

Final Answer: 4.25 / 5

Tweet It:

Love a dark and twisted retelling of a classic tale? Check out DOROTHY MUST DIE @daniellempaige (Click to Tweet)

In a few words? Dark, fast-paced, and mysterious. @Rae_Slater reviews DOROTHY MUST DIE @daniellempaige (Click to Tweet)

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