To be published by HarperCollins on 3rd July 2014 (first published on 1st April 2014)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Purchase from: Amazon (UK)
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I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.**Thanks HarperCollins for sending me a free review copy!**
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. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can't be trusted and Wicked Witches may just 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 courage.
And then—Dorothy must die.
I thought this book was fantastic and so much fun to read.
I have to say though, the blurb is a tad misleading. You know all that stuff down there with the mission and all those parts to it? "Remove the Tin Woodman's heart, steal the Scarecrow's brain, take the Lion's courage"? That's not really a big part of this book. I'm thinking it more generally describes the series as a whole rather than this book in particular. But, that said, this is still an eminently enjoyable book in its own right, and as long as you don't go into this book expecting everything in the blurb to happen, you're going to be fine.
What I've said makes it sound like this book might have First Book Syndrome. You know, when you read the first book of a series and it feels like it's just laying down groundwork for the next book(s)? And so it feels like the plot's kind of barely there, and nothing much actually happens apart from a whole lot of waiting for what comes next? Well, this book doesn't suffer from First Book Syndrome at all, in my opinion. I thought this book held up really well on its own, even though the ending was kind of really really rushed and abrupt. But the rest of it was pretty great plot-wise. The plot is not quite as advertised, but there's definitely plot. Things happened. Interesting things, exciting things. Twisted things.
I fell in love with Amy's voice from the beginning. I love how it's just a touch cynical and resigned and sad. It's the voice of a teenager unsure of who she is, who's lived a crappy life and has had to deal with a lot. Her dad left her mum when she was little, and her mum's just kind of signed out of life after that, becoming addicted to her pills and not doing a whole lot of taking care of Amy. Amy lives in a trailer in Kansas. She's bullied at school. And then one day, her trailer gets swept up in a tornado and she lands in Oz.
But it's not the Oz that we all know from the stories. It's a grim place. All the life is being sucked out of Oz, all the magic robbed from the very earth. The people are suffering terribly. And Dorothy is responsible. Dorothy, who decided to come by to Oz to enjoy fame and power after she realised that going home to Kansas wasn't good enough for her anymore.
And Amy somehow ends up getting landed with the task of killing Dorothy. But it's not easy, and she doesn't know whether she wants to do it, whether she really can do it. Doesn't know whether it would just make her another Dorothy. Another girl from Kansas who wanted too much.
I loved the darkness in this book. There's a lot of violence, cruelty, implications of horrific torture. Dorothy and her loyal minions, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion, are all terrifying in their own ways. They're unimaginably vicious. And Dorothy does it as she's smiling all the while. It's creepy and awful and I loved every second of it. I loved the moral ambiguity in certain characters; I loved how this book grappled with the concepts of good and evil (well, Good and Wicked) and I love how complicated everything was.
I loved Amy. She was a heroine who really did get angry, whose anger was such a vital part of her. I loved that anger. It was so understandable and so real, and I loved how she harnessed it, how she used it in this book. I love her frustration with her life, with the situations she finds herself in in this book, her moral conflicts. The way she is so alone, has been alone her whole life and how she has to deal with that, how it's emphasised so clearly in this book that she can trust no one but herself. But she can trust herself. And that's what she has. She has her own identity, her own strength. And it's so perfect, watching her come to terms with that and trying to figure out who she is and what she wants.
I wasn't a huge fan of the romance in this book, but that wasn't a major component of the book. It was actually kind of negligible, and I wonder if it had been a heavier focus, maybe it would have been better developed. As it is, her love interest was a little boring, and also barely present for most of the book. But the real focus of the book is Amy. Amy and her decisions, her struggles, her actions. And she absolutely shines as a character. I love her to bits, and I can't wait to see more of her kicking ass in the next book!
All in all, if you love dark and twisted, you'll love this.