Author: Danielle Paige
Original Release Date: April 1 2014
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Blurb: I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole like 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. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can’t be trusted and Wicked Witches just might be the good guys. A place where even the yellow brick road is crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
My name is Amy Gumm- and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart,
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain,
Take the Lion’s couragr,
And then- Dorothy Must Die.
This book had been on my TBR list for months, so when I finally saw it in Waterstones I could not miss the opportunity to buy it and finally sink my teeth into it. Unfortunately I have to say I was disappointed. I don’t know if studying English literature has ruined books for me, or if it’s just ruined young adult books, but for some reason I found myself not enjoying this novel that I would have normally not been able to put down.
Firstly the writing style of Paige did not sit right with me. I know every writer has their own unique style, and an authors style may suit some readers better than others, but I felt Paige was writing for a younger audience than the plot was targeted towards. I know the book is in the young adult genre, but so are The Hunger Games and Divergent, Harry Potter is classed as a children’s book, and the writing style of the authors was still eloquent and complex in its own way, without being unreadable to the desired audience. But Paige seemed to dumb her story down, constantly repeating phrases that she could have easily found synonyms for (if I had to read ‘they looked around the same age as me’ one more time I was going to scream). It frustrated me that she seemed to think so little of her audience, if she had have just chosen to write to a higher level the story would have read so much better and I wouldn’t have needed to take so many breaks from this book to stem my irritation.
The characters were also every frustrating for me to read about, probably because I had no emotional connection to them at all. The main character’s, Amy Gumm, back story felt rushed and had no depth to it, we were just told the facts, not how it affected Amy or how she felt about it, so it made it hard to feel sorry for her or have any sympathy towards her. It was all crammed into a very small first chapter and before you could even blink Amy was in Oz and her past was completely forgotten. It felt like Paige was trying to force a connection between the reader and these characters by overly describing their appearance, telling the reader pointless information about the exact clothes each character was wearing and their specific shade of hair and eye colour, when those words could have been used to better describe the horrific acts that were occurring in Oz, something that Paige confusingly didn’t go into much detail about but would have forged a better connection between the reader and her characters. The majority of side characters were supposed to be mysterious but they came off as having no personality, and Amy’s relationships with them felt contrived, again making it difficult to feel anything for them when they were put in, supposedly, emotional and hard situations.
There were a couple of side characters that I did enjoy reading about. Paige wrote the characters of the Wizard and Glamora well, with the right amount of mysteriousness about them, giving the reader the appropriate amount of information so they didn’t get frustrated at not knowing anything but enough to want to keep reading to find out more about them. This can probably be said more for Glamora than the Wizard but I think that fits with his character portrayal in the movie’s and novels that Paige is basing her idea off of, we aren’t given much information about him then so for her to continue that trend made sense. One of the reasons I will pick up the next book despite all the complaints I’ve made about this one is to see more of these two characters. The Wizard confused me throughout and that’s something I love about some characters, I never know what side they’re on and trying to figure that out excites me. Although Paige’s writing style isn’t the correct fit for me this is something I have to commend her for because she wrote the Wizard perfectly.
I thought the book may improve when the main story line started to take place but I was again disappointed, as instead of focusing on Amy’s training for her mission (what I thought was one of the most interesting and fun parts of the book, or would have been) it was overshadowed by the out-of-nowhere and no-connection-what-so-ever romance between Amy and Nox. The love story between the two characters had no relevance to the plot, didn’t move the story forward, and seemed to be added because that’s what Paige thought you needed to be classed as a young adult book. If she had have kept their relationship platonic, at least during this book, then it would have fit better with the atmosphere Paige was trying to create. Their relationship should have developed at a slower pace throughout the series instead of being accelerated in the first novel.
However, the overall plot and storyline of the book was very good. It may not have been the best written, have likeable characters or focus on the plot throughout, but the idea itself was what kept me reading. I wanted to know how Paige continued the story, how Amy got out of situations, what she had to actually do in her mission. Paige did keep the suspense of how Amy was going to do the seemingly impossible task of killing Dorothy going throughout the book, and it intrigued me. It kept me reading right to the last page, and although I was a bit upset that the blurb of the book was misleading in some of the plot points (I don’t want to give away spoilers), I did like how Paige had planned for the events to play out. Yes I would have liked more focus on this as I felt it was dominated by the unnecessary romance, but it was a good idea, one that I deeply enjoyed reading about and will probably make me pick up the next book in the series no matter how many things in this book annoyed me. I want to know what happens to Amy even though I don’t like her because I want to see what situations and solutions Paige comes up with next. Although I’m not a fan of her writing style, her imagination and ideas are amazing and something I am extremely envious of. I am excited to read the next book, and if the caliber of Paige’s writing had been a little better then this book would have been a 3.5 for me, but there a few too many problems with it for me to rate this book 3 stars.
Do you agree with what I’ve said? Do you think I’m being too harsh? Have I changed your mind about wanting to read this book or not? Let me know in the comments section and if you have any book suggestions I would love to hear them!