During my childhood, most books I ever read were whatever the school library had to offer, and most fiction titles ranged from Goosebumps (which I never read), Nancy Drew, and my favorite: The Hardy Boys. I often found my 10 year old self checking out a new mystery that the brothers would solve. This led me to discover Sherlock Holmes & Agatha Christie, so sure, my taste for fiction leans towards the murder-mystery types. So Lord of the Rings never appealed to me before the movie, and I had little to no interest in finishing Harry Potter because of how big a disappointment Order of the Phoenix was to me. (note: I greatly enjoyed The Philosopher Stone, and I think it’s the best Harry Potter book ever.)
So the fantasy section of my library is pretty small, up until recently when I picked up the short-story compilation Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, and it grew to contain The Song of Ice & Fire, Miss Peregrine House for Peculiar Children, and thanks to my girlfriend, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked series. I had very little patience for fantasy novels, especially if they don’t appeal to the fantasy world I grew up with from reading Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.
But Wicked is a special story, and how I came to enjoyed it starts with Idina Menzel.
I am fond of broadway musicals, with Rent being my all time favorite, and JM (that’s my girlfriend) loved musicals too, being a singer herself. And she had a thing for Idina Menzel, who I only know as Maureen from Rent, and I learned this when we watched Frozen. During the part where Queen Elsa flees to the snowy mountains and begins singing “Let it Go”. So I ask her: “Do you recognize that voice?” and she replies: “I think it’s Idina Menzel, I’m very familiar with her falsetto”
This proceeded in a long conversation about Idina’s singing/acting career and she talks to me about Wicked.
Wicked flips the roles and tells the story to the mysterious wicked witch of the west. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she end up so wicked? Is she really Wicked? This is the entire story in itself, as a girl named Elphaba, met with the misfortune of being born with green skin, has to dance through life handling all the problems of being different. Through all the adventures she goes through, Elphaba tries to learn to become more than just the different girl, and faces her destiny with conviction.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT:
A villains back-story is always interesting because it’s always interesting to find out why they’re so bad. As it gives a better perspective on the most primal motivations of our existence. Society demands that we be the paragon of our civilization, to do what is considered right, and condemn what is wrong, but how often have you found yourself wanting to do the wrong thing because it feels justified?
“Eye for an eye” may be the best phrase to describe my point, when we feel used and taken advantage of, or manipulated, we want to fight back, and that is Elphaba’s struggle in Wicked.
My recommendation for this book is high, because Wicked gives you a glimpse into that problems of a person justifying being wicked, and how our perceptions of right and wrong varies greatly on who’s on which side of the moral line.