I’ll admit I had pretty high expectations for Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. You see, I’m a HUGE fan of The Wizard of Oz. It’s one of those movies I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid. And when I worked at The Warner Brothers Studio Store back in the summer of 1997 in the Twin Cities, my obsession was heightened because at the time it was a Warner Brothers property. There were key chains and watches and fancy pens! OH MY! Somewhere in a box, I have the 2-disc soundtrack stashed away with the liner notes I poured over to know that Shirley Temple was considered for the role of Dorothy and at one point Judy’s hair was blonde. Needless to say I’m a bit of an Ozian nut.
I really struggled with Dorothy Must Die and perhaps I should have abandoned the novel. But, I kept reading hoping to connect with Amy or Dorothy or anyone really and by the time I reached the end of the book, I came up empty handed and confused. Amy Gumm, the main character, was the whiniest character I’ve ever encountered in quite a while. It seemed like every time something went wrong or she didn’t know the answer it was all “WOE IS ME!” Perhaps after a couple years of encountering characters like Katniss and Tris, I am starting to expect more from my heroines and expect them to be more resourceful in the face of adversity.
It appears there are a lot of political factions at play in Oz. Each faction thinks they have the right solution to the problem. However, no one takes the time to fill Amy in on why they are fighting, what they have at stake and why their solution is the best solution. No wonder poor Amy doesn’t know who to trust or who to side with! And the biggest question for me, as a reader, how did Dorothy get so powerful in the first place? Did she just waltz into the Emerald City one day and say, “Hey! I’m in charge.”? What triggered her obsession with magic? Why is she addicted? Amy tries to match the magic addiction back to her mother’s drug addiction. However, since the cause of Amy’s mother’s addiction is never fully explained, the connection fails.
There was one laugh out loud moment for me in the novel towards the end when Amy confronts Dorothy.
“There must be some mistake,” I said as I rushed toward her, my shoulder lowered. “You’re the bitch. I’m the witch.”I would like this quote on a t-shirt, please.
For me, I didn’t learn enough about the characters and their reasons for fighting to care if Dorothy really must be killed to save Oz. Certainly the devastation in Oz was atrocious, but it was my imaginary Oz that was destroyed, not Paige’s. There was little description of Oz, either the Hollywood version or the Baum version or Paige’s own Oz. That coupled with no explanation of the players who have a stake in the revolution and the lack of character development left the book flat for me. Sadly, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige gets a thumbs down.
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