Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1)
Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: April 1, 2014

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 bluebirds. 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 a yellow brick road—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.

My Review

Dorothy Must Die is one of those books that I was aware of but never really intended to read because of my insane schedule. However, I read the first few chapters on Epic Reads back in March, and I was hooked. I loved Amy's sass and snark, and I wanted to see how she would fare in Oz with her attitude. Sadly, Dorothy Must Die was not the book that I assumed it would be based on the excerpt. (I only read the first three chapters - I never went to the other sites.) It lacked the sarcasm and self-deprecation that was hinted at in the beginning of the book. I'm not saying that Dorothy Must Die was a bad book - it wasn't - it was just not what I was anticipating or wanted to read. There were some inconsistencies in character behavior, but I am willing to write those off as rookie mistakes. (Just so you know I'm being fair and not just going by an unfinished copy, I bought and read the finished version.)

Amy Gumm, the main character, had a lot of potential. She stood up for herself, even when she knew that it would only make things worse, and had a fairly decent moral compass. Amy also asked a lot of questions, which is good when witches are telling you to do crazy shit. Unfortunately, she got whiny and irritating after a while. I expected her to be kicking ass and taking names, but all I saw was her saying "why me" on repeat. I know it will blow your mind to read this, but I would've liked to have had a love triangle in Dorothy Must Die. Yes, you read that correctly. I was not on board for the Amy/Nox interactions, and I felt more chemistry between Amy and Pete, despite the shortness of their scenes.

As for the world-building of Dorothy Must Die, I really wish it had been set anywhere but Oz. I read nearly every book in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum as a child and grew up loving the movies. (Yes, even the horribly wonderful Return to Oz with Fairuza Balk.) I get that the Oz in Dorothy Must Die is supposed to be a darker place, but using some of the characters and settings does not necessarily capture the essence of the beloved classic. I feel that's something important that a retelling should do. I understand that Paige is attempting to make this book her own, but her Oz could have been any land in any other novel just by switching the names, species, places, etc. Dorothy Must Die just never screamed "Oz".

The story was also way darker than what I thought it would be. Yes, Oz had its own scariness in the original books and the aforementioned movies, but Dorothy Must Die was gory and brutal. To be honest, if Paige would have created her own world and history, this could have easily been a five-star read for me. She can write tense scenes and kept me on the edge of my seat, but it just didn't mesh with Oz.

Dorothy Must Die was also nearly a DNF for me about halfway through it. Something about Amy drove me nuts, and the seesawing argument of essentially "the end justifies the means" and "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" (it never uses those phrases, that's just what I gathered) got tiresome. Yes, Amy, I know that you don't want to be wicked. So does everyone else. Also, I needed more flying monkeys. Flying monkeys are always the best.

Despite the issues that I had with Dorothy Must Die, I'll probably read the next book in the series. Paige is a writer with a lot of potential, and I'm willing to give her and her Oz another chance. Just because I'm a book snob does not mean YOU shouldn't give the book a chance. Dorothy Must Die is a horrific, bloody new twist on Oz.

- 2.5/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

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