BY SAHITHI DODDAKA
This week on #NovelReads, our book reviewers had a royal time reading "Dorothy Must Die", a twisted tale about witchcraft, alternate worlds, and fated romance.
All opinions expressed in this review are the author's only, and do not in any way represent NM.
As someone who loved the Wizard of Oz as a kid, I was certainly looking forward to this read. This book had a fresh twist on the traditional tale by showing a dark and corrupted Oz. I think the idea behind the story is brilliant: There’s action, romance, and unexpected twists and turns. However, the execution could’ve been much better.
The story starts with Amy Gumm, a regular girl from a trailer park in Kansas (sounds familiar right?). After a tornado, she finds herself in the magical world of Oz. However, Oz is much different from the original story. Oz has been corrupted by Dorothy's rule as she has been harvesting the magic from the lands due to her selfish desires. Dorothy is the villain in the story as she becomes a cruel dictator of sorts. Amy is selected by an organization of witches called the Order of the Wicked to kill Dorothy and restore balance to Oz.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the author's writing style. It was quite simplistic and straightforward, as many books directed toward younger audiences are. I wish the writing was more imaginative with elements open to interpretation. With the setting of Oz, there were plenty of opportunities for vibrant and descriptive language that were not taken.
I found the main character to not be written horribly, but her relationships with the other characters are unusual. I personally believe that the way relationships are portrayed in novels is one of the most important aspects of fiction. The book has several inconsistencies between characters, especially with the romance. There was a watered-down version of an enemies to lovers' trope, where suddenly the boy who hates the main character kisses her with no significant build-up or motive. I couldn’t exactly relate to or understand many characters or their intentions behind their actions.
The beginning of the story was relatively strong by setting up an unexpected series of events with a peculiar character. As the novel continued, there were aspects of the story that seemed to become uninteresting. For example, the depth of Dorothy's character was wasted completely. When Dorothy was first introduced, the author describes how she is not at all similar to herself in the original story by describing her as slutty and provocative. There was an unneeded association between evil and immodesty that continues to the author's depiction of other characters such as Glamora.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this book just because I believe there are other fantasy novels that outshine this novel in many ways.