From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Wicked – Novel vs. Musical

Warning: some spoilers ahead!

Let me start by saying how much I love the land of Oz. I’ve always been fascinated by Oz, and by Wonderland, ever since I was a kid. I don’t know what it is about these strange parallel worlds that fascinates me so much. Maybe it’s because they were some of the first really speculative stories I was exposed to as a child. In any case, anything in either of these universes is almost an automatic hit with me, but Maguire has managed to write the only Oz story I’ve ever hated.

I read Wicked a few years ago, and hated it. Then I saw the play last year and LOVED it. I decided to give the book another try, just in case I’d been wrong. Nope, I still hated it. The book has almost nothing at all to do with the play, other than sharing the same characters and a couple settings.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the premise of the book, it’s a retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from a new point of view — the Wicked Witch of the West. He attempts to explain why the witch is perceived as wicked, how she came to own the west, how she came to be called a witch, etc. . . . Honestly, with a premise this great, how could I not like it? I have plenty of reasons.

The book is split into several sections, each basically covering a portion of Elphaba’s life (Elphaba is the Witch of the West’s name). But it often seemed like all the important events were occurring off-camera. We see part of Elphaba’s life, then it skips 5-7 years between sections, then Maguire works the events of those years into pace-killing infodump summary that made me want to skip ahead. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

Not only that, but each section introduced a whole new cast of characters — who for the most part were not seen either before or after that section. So I felt like any characterization of them was just a waste of time.

Sure, there were a few major events that happen on-camera, but even those were hard to get into. Part of it was the head-hopping. The predominant style these days is to choose a single POV character for each section/chapter of a book, and stick entirely with that character. I think this is a very positive trend, because I think it can be so much more immersive. I like to see the world through the eyes of the character using the narration as a lens. It’s a hard thing to do as a writer — trust me, I know — but it’s a worthy goal, a writer’s Everest. But the head-hopping in this book killed any potential it had. By head-hopping I mean that the point of view (POV) jumped from person to person within the scene. Elphaba would mentally describe Glinda for a paragraph, and then suddenly Glinda would mentally describe Elphaba, etc. . . . I find it distracting.

SPOILERS!

And Maguire’s use of sex constantly annoyed me. Now, I’m no prude when it comes to sex in stories, but the sex has to serve a purpose just like everything else. It has to carry its weight. Sex can be a great tool for characterization, showing motivation, exploring relationships between characters. But instead of using sex to enhance the characters and plot, Maguire uses sex like pink flamingo lawn ornaments — it’s only effect is to distract and annoy.

You can’t go a chapter without sex coming up in the strangest of places. Perhaps it’s a countercomment on the total lack of sex in the film and book? I don’t know. A way to ensure that it didn’t end up on the kid’s rack? Could be. For instance, about 1/3 of the way through the book, many of the characters go to the Philosopher’s Club, a cultish sex club reminscent of Eyes Wide Shut. But neither Glinda nor Elphaba went in. Boq the munchkin, who had been a major character in the prior section, went in, but we barely see him for the rest of the book. Fiyero, the Winkie who becomes Elphaba’s only love, goes in, but he seems unaffected by his experiences inside there. Crope (or is it Tibbet?) goes in, and gets some kind of STD and wastes away from it, but he’d always been a minor character.

On the subject of Crope and Tibbet, both of those two were just token homosexual characters with no individual personality, as if they were an afterthought to meet some sort of equal rights requirement from his publisher. I got the impression we were supposed to gasp at the idea of homosexuals in Oz, but no effort was made to make them into real characters.

And the premise of this book is for us to try to understand the Witch better, right? Well, by the end of the book she’s actually more despicable than I had thought she was in the movie/original book. In the movie/book, I think the Wizard is the villain, not the Witch. Think about it. A little girl goes to the Wizard for help. He says he’ll help, but only if the little girl acts as an assassin and goes to kill the Witch. Dorothy doesn’t want to do it, but feels she has no choice. After that, the Witch’s actions are all self-defense. She knows Dorothy is her intended assassin — what is she supposed to do, sit and wait for her to come and kill her? We as viewers know that Dorothy could never intentionally kill anybody.

But in Wicked, what really convinces me that she’s a bad person is how she treats her son. She’s not entirely sure he’s her son (long story), but when she leaves the convent (another long and uninteresting story) the other nuns make her take the child with her. The narration makes it very clear that he is her son, referring to Fiyero as the father, etc, so we know he is. But whether or not he’s her biological son is beside the point. He’s her responsibility either way because she’s accepted custody of him. But she totally ignores him. She has no idea where he sleeps (on the floor in one of the children’s rooms), what he eats, what he does (lives in constant torment by the other children). He’s so unloved that he will do anything for approval, including getting kicked around by the cruel other children. Elphaba sees this and doesn’t care, nor does she lift a finger to stop it.

One day Liir (the boy) is playing hide and seek with the other children, and one of them convinces him to hide in the fishwell, where he can’t get out on his own. Then the kid leaves him there where he sits for DAYS and almost dies. During this time Elphaba doesn’t even realize he’s gone! It’s this that really convinces me she’s a villain. I liked some other aspects of it, but this is what really made me hate her. I couldn’t like anyone who treated their own child that way.

END SPOILERS!

Apparently somebody liked the book, because it’s already spawned two sequels, Son of a Witch, which I’m assuming is about Liir, and I saw a new one about the cowardly lion.

Wicked, the Musical

As far as I’m concerned, the only good thing that came of Wicked, the book, is that it gave someone the idea to make Wicked, the musical. This play is great! I like musicals in general, and this was better than average. It was everything the book should have been. Instead of being a meandering, slow-moving plot about a despicable character, it tells us about an Elphaba that I can actually relate to. The play is much more focused on the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba, which gave it a much stronger core. In the book, the two were only anywhere near each other in one section.

The musical is focused around both of them, starting at Shiz, the college they both went to, and progressing to their meeting of the Wizard. From there, their paths diverge, but they are still both relatable. They both want to change the world, but Glinda tries to do so by society-approved advancement through government, and Elphaba tries her own radical ways. We already know how this works out for them, of course, but I still rooted for Elphaba because she was clearly a good person at heart with a good cause.

There are a lot of amazing songs in the soundtrack. Particularly noteworthy are “What is this Feeling” where Galinda (it’s spelled Galinda in the early scenes where she insists on an aristocratic air, and Glinda in the later scenes where she’s more down to Earth) and Elphaba profess their immediate loathing for each other and “Popular” where Galinda gives Elphaba a much-needed makeover. Galinda/Glinda was played by Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway, who some people might know as Olive Snook on the now-cancelled TV series Pushing Daisies. She deserves special mention because she plays such an amazing Glinda the Good Witch. Spot-on — the voice, the look — everything is perfect. I didn’t actually see her in the part, but she did an amazing job on the soundtrack, and she is perfectly suited for it.

Also good songs are “The Wizard and I” sung by Elphaba, and “A sentimental Man” sung by the Wizard. Some of the lyrics were very impressive with their clever rhyming. For instance, the Wizard: “There are very few at ease with moral ambiguities . . .” And Glinda: “Don’t be offended by my frank analysis. Think of it as personality dialysis. Ever since I’ve become a pal, a sis-ter, and advisor, there’s nobody wiser.” One slight pause in the middle of sister and it all works.

I should note that the play deviated from every other version in major ways. It wasn’t particularly faithful to any of the other renditions. But the ways it veered off the beaten path were so compelling, and they made such sense with the world of Oz that I didn’t mind at all.

For one thing, the origin of the scarecrow and the tin man were totally different, but the way they were changed tied them very closely to Elphaba’s story. Their original backstories were fine for the original book, because they didn’t have to be tied closely together to the witch.

SPOILERS!

The Tin Man in this rendition turns out to be Boq. While they’re in school Boq has a crush on Galinda, but she convinces him to take pity on Elphaba’s sister Nessarose, because Nessa’s in a wheelchair. He asks her out, and then never has the nerve to break it off. She becomes mayor of Munchkinland to the East, and eventually labeled the Wicked Witch of the East. She’s so afraid that he’ll leave her that she never lets him leave, always keeping him cooped up even though he wants to travel. He feels smothered, and one day during an argument between Nessa and Elphaba his heart gives out on him. Elphaba tries to save his life, and using the Grimmery, the magic book given to her by the Wizard, which she barely understands, she tries to find a spell that will save him. Instead of healing him, the spell changes him to a form where he doesn’t need a heart at all — the Tin Man.

The Scarecrow turns out to be Fiyero. He is engaged to Galinda for quite some time, and works in the military for the Wizard. But he defects in order to save Elphaba’s life. He’s captured by a troop of soldiers, and they carry him away. Elphaba casts another spell to try to save his life, casting a spell that his bones may never break, that he’ll never die, and will not feel pain. Thus he became the scarecrow.

The Nessarose portrayed in the book and the play are totally different in almost every way. They’re both crippled, but with totally different disabilities. In the book, she has no arms. This makes her very dependent on other people — she can’t even walk unless someone helps her balance. While in the play she’s in a wheelchair. Book — she’s a religious zealot, following the religion of her father, but using it to become a Tyrant in the East. I couldn’t find anything about that Nessa to like. Play — she’s very sweet, and it’s easy to feel bad about her bad fortune in life. It’s very sweet when Boq asks her out to the dance, and I really enjoyed seeing her face light up, even though I figured it would end badly one way or the other. Again, Maguire seemed to go out of his way to make sure every character was totally unlikeable. Just because a character is labeled as a villain doesn’t mean they can have no redeeming qualities!

END SPOILERS!

Obviously I feel very strongly about these two versions of this concept. I guess the other positive thing I can say about Maguire’s version is that it certainly got me aggravated enough to give me a topic to go on about.

David Steffen lives in Minnesota with his lovely wife and two crazy dogs. He works as a software engineer, writing video processing algorithms for traffic cameras. No, not the kind that give you tickets. The good kind. Yes, there is a good kind. He writes speculative fiction and is an all-around media enthusiast. His fiction is scheduled to be published in Pseudopod, and his non-fiction has appeared here in Fantasy Magazine. Check out his blog at http://www.steffenwolf.blogspot.com

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42 Responses »

  1. It’s been years since I read the book. I don’t remember all of the sex, but I do remember being pretty “meh” about it. I gave McGuire another chance with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which I hated, and I haven’t picked any of his books up since.

    However, I just saw the musical for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was swept off my feet. It’s rare for an adaptation to be better than the book, but the musical is SO much better, and like you, I could totally root for that Elphaba.

  2. It’s been a number of years, so I can’t talk specifics, but I was quite enamored by the book.

    The musical, though, is very much on my “Must See” list for whenever it comes to Minneapolis and I’ve got spare cash.

  3. You’re in Minneapolis too? Nice! I saw Wicked here last year.

  4. If the play came back here I would totally go again.

  5. Suburbs, but yes. I missed it last year (and probably the time before that, and the time before that)

  6. I read Wicked after all the musical hype and…

    HATED it. Not just hated, but HATED. But, stupidly, I read the whole thing. It was almost like I was mesmerized by the fact that MacGuire does not give the reader a SINGLE redeeming character in the book. I kept reading, hoping SOMEONE would BE redeemed in some way. But no. UGH!

    Can I give a book negative stars on a rating system?

  7. Wicked was brilliant. A mysterious and subversive meditation on the outcast, the other, the “wicked” (particularly in light of the Bush Administration and the “War on Terror”) and in general a clever re-writing of OZ.
    A funny book to boot. I can imagine that the arch tone could be off-putting, but I loved it. The musical does a good job of preserving the spirit of the book. I loved them both.

  8. I read Wicked a few years ago and also totally despised it. I haven’t yet seen the musical but the only reason I want to is because I hear it’s nothing like the book!

  9. Wow, I couldn’t disagree with you more on your assessment of Maguire’s book. I loved the book. I think it turns Oz and our expectations on their heads. I found the characterization fantastic in the book, and the plot more complete. I loved the Philosopher’s club section–it was a frightening parallel to going to college clubs and being slipped a date rape drug.

    The musical, which I saw with great anticipation, left me empty. Few songs rise to the surface beyond Defying Gravity and Popular, both gems. The ending of the book and the ending of the musical are radically different. The musical is a watered down story for an audience who really doesn’t want the kind of rich complexity you find in the book, I think.

    But hey, difference of opinion will drive you to seek out the truth for yourself. If you can put down the book after the prologue where the witch is overhearing herself being discussed by the lion, tin man and scarecrow then you might want to just go see the musical…

  10. I didn’t have a problem with the section about the Philosopher’s Club, per se. It just had nothing to do with anything and added to lack of cohesiveness, and the characters who went to the club were never major characters after that so it just felt like a waste of time. If that section had expanded a character or furthered the plot in any way, I would’ve had no complaint.

    I didn’t put the book down after the prologue, I read it all the way through to give it a chance, hoping the book would redeem itself by the end. I really didn’t want to hate something Oz-based because I’ve loved pretty much everything else I’ve seen or read based on that world.

    I disagree that the musical is a watered down version of the rich complexity of the book. To me a book has to be cohesive, and in this case Maguire didn’t give me the impression of rich complexity, but a complete lack of direction, wandering from topic to topic like a boring relative at a family reunion, clearly expecting me to care about people who I have no reason to care about. Especially Elphaba. I thought this story was supposed to redeem Elphaba, but the way she treats her son convinces me that she’s more wicked in this incarnation than in the original Oz.

  11. I wasn’t impressed with the book either and it is amzing that Maguire published several other books after that one. It gives me hope that some day my books will be published too if his can, LOL.

    In regards to the musical, I have never seen it but my interest has been piqued!

  12. I think the book was so successful because it wasn’t targeted at a fantasy audience, which I consider myself to be a part of, but at a “literary” audience–literary as a genre, that is. His style is very similar to some magazines I’ve read which refer to their tastes as “literary”.

  13. Wow. I hope one day that we can stop trying to divide readership into “literary” and “all the cool people on this blog/website/convention”. This is a false divide.

    Good books are good books. Enjoy what you want. I think Maguire’s book was excellent fantasy, and I sure don’t want to think that his book was that different than the other fantasy books I’ve enjoyed over the years. Everybody has a different style. Tolkien, Card, McCaffrey, LeGuin, Bradbury, Vandermeer, Atwood, Maguire—all write/wrote fantasy or science fiction novels–all different, all different styles. Celebrate it.

    For a positive review on the book by Maguire which inspired the musical, see this:

    http://inkscrawl.blogspot.com/2005/10/book-review-wicked-by-gregory-maguire.html

  14. That said, David, you have every right to your review. I’m just continuing the dialogue.

    One of my pet peeves is that divide putting Literary on one side and Fantasy and Science Fiction on the other. It is perpetuated, unfortunately, by the bastions on both sides: the university and the sci-fi/fantasy convention–not all universities and not all conventions. Conventioneers at ReaderCon and WisCon are two conventions–that I know of– that try to pile everything good together without resorting to the divide, and there are universities that respect and value the contributions of science fiction and fantasy writers.

    They should, really. Fantasy goes back to Gilgamesh, and revered literary figures like Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe–fathers of American Fiction–had the same toolbox as any fantasy writer or science fiction writer today. We just call them Literature right now.

    Anyway, my point I guess is that many decades ago there wasn’t a divide–and now folks are trying to create “audiences” for different books, and that feels false. Heck, I might miss out on something because it WASN’T marketed to me!

  15. Jerome, I didn’t mean to divide everything into “literary” and “all the cool people on this blog/website/convention” at all. I realize that readers of Fantasy may have very diverse tastes, including lots of stuff that I don’t personally like. It’s my opinion, and your mileage may vary.

    All I meant to say by that comment was that Maguire’s writing style seemed to closely match the editorial tastes that seem to be exhibited by magazines who classify themselves as “literary” (note that is not my nomenclature, but their own), such as Glimmer Train and Zoetrope. So, a fan of Glimmer Train would be very likely to enjoy Maguire’s writing, in my opinion, but a randomly picked fan of the fantasy genre might or might not like it.

  16. Oops, I didn’t clarify fast enough. Sorry about that. We are both typing simultaneously…

  17. How do you account though for Maguire’s broad appeal? Literary fiction doesn’t have THAT big of an audience. You can’t sell that many books to just those who identify as Literary readers.

    I think he tapped into a broad acceptance of fantasy in even the mainstream reader–one who would have grown up with Oz–and
    I think he tapped into Oz as it exists in our minds, part of the American mythology, and made the characters more complex, not so good, not so bad….and that’s kind of intriguing.

  18. “That said, David, you have every right to your review. I’m just continuing the dialogue.”

    No worries. I enjoy the discussion.

    Incidentally, I agree with what I think you’re saying, that splitting everything into “genre” barriers is artifical and detrimental.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to come across a magazine or book that uses the word “literary” to describe itself that I’ve enjoyed. I really want to find one, but have not had any luck yet. If you have a suggestion I would love to hear it.

    I’ve rambled about the subject of “What is literary?” on my blog in the past: http://steffenwolf.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-is-literary.html

  19. Another cross-post, it appears. *grin*

    “How do you account though for Maguire’s broad appeal?”

    I know the reason why I bought the Wicked book was that I have always been fascinated by Oz ever since I was a kid, and the promise of a book that told the OTHER side of the story was such an amazing idea there was no way I wasn’t going to give it a chance. He made a great move picking the subject of his book–it’s one that’s immediately familiar to such a huge portion of the population, even those who might not read much, or those who normally don’t read fantasy books. I admire him for his ability to draw in readers from such diverse tastes, much as I admire JK Rowling for the same ability.

    I still think Wicked was an amazing idea, and the premise itself is genius, I won’t claim that Maguire didn’t have a great idea. I just didn’t care for his writing style. It’s not that his writing isn’t skilled, it just didn’t work well for me. Clearly he does not value the same things in a story that I value, and that’s fine–it won’t be the first time that’s happened nor will it be the last.. It worked well for lots of people, and I’m sure there were plenty of others like myself who might not have liked it, but were so sold on the premise that they bought it anyway. I don’t regret buying the book, but I also doubt I’ll ever re-read it.

  20. It’s funny you say that. I’m now, actually….hehe…dying to re-read the book. Hehe.

  21. Haha, that’s the funny thing about publicity–a bad review can get lots of extra readers. I read Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass after reading some bad reviews (among some good ones) because I wanted to find out who I agreed with. :)

  22. I watched “Wicked” on Broadway last week with Alli Mauzey playing Glinda and Dee playing as Elphaba and I think it was AMAZING and its always stuck in my head. I just got the novel from my library 2 days ago and I’m half way through it and I’m so disappointed… I hardly feel Glinda’s and Elphaba’s relationship and Glinda is waayyy too shallow in the book. I also find the sex scenes useless and all the politics kind of bore me. His writing overall makes it hard for me to keep on reading and I don’t want to finish the book anymore.

  23. Daniel–I hear you!
    If you aren’t enjoying the book by halfway through, I don’t think the second half will be any better for you–his style is pretty consistent throughout.

  24. I’m wondering now if there’s just a complete different audience for book and musical. Love the musical, hate the book; love the book, meh about the musical.

  25. So sad Alli Mauzey’s last day is tomorrow T_T best Glinda ever

  26. I loved the book, and I’ll explain when I get the chance.

  27. Jerome Stueart…You were wondering if there was “a complete different audience for book and musical. Love the musical, hate the book; love the book, meh about the musical.” I don’t know about the others, but I loved both of them. I read the book last year and loved it. This summer I continued with Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men and was absolutely satisfied with the sequels. About a week ago I saw the musical in Melbourne and, although the songs sounded a little off-pitched, was 100% thrilled. As of which is better: book or musical, I can’t say, because they seem like two completely different genres. The book has a deeper and more mystical side, while the musical is made to be more easily understood, leaving out confusing characters and scenes. I’ll have to reread everything before I go on and further my view.

  28. I’m trying to find out if the play is appropriate for a nine year old child. I’d like to take my niece but I read the book with all it’s sexual refrences and did not like it.
    Can anyone advise??

  29. The show is pretty clean and family-friendly. A little girl behind me got upset by the flying monkeys and a couple of intense action scenes, but I’d guess she was around four. Your niece could probably handle that stuff just fine.

  30. I agree with JM. I don’t think the play would be bad for a kid. None of the sexual stuff that fills the book.

  31. Thanks! We’ll enjoy the show!!!
    Your responses have put me at ease.

  32. It’s like you wrote this review straight from my own head.
    I saw the Musical last November and I absolutely LOVED the Musical! I read the book because of the Musical and after finishing it… I am left utterly disappointed.
    I started by reading a copy of the book I got as a gift but, to be perfectly honest, had trouble getting through the first few chapters (Elphaba’s childhood) so I switch to listening to the audio book (which also allowed me to get through it a heck of lot faster… thank goodness)
    I wholly agree about Liir and Elphaba. It seems that she would have been a little nicer and maybe a bit more caring or even a twinge of responsibility towards the possible link between her and her Fiyero or even just because he was her charge. How can she care about Animals so much but not care about a poor abandon boy at her side?
    I also have the same feelings about the sexual content in the book. It just seemed completely pointless. I really don’t mind this sort of content if it serves a purpose. I like events in books that I read to move the plot forward or lead to some sort of character development. If it doesn’t, what’s the point? What is the point of being shown something that doesn’t matter? but then again if this book omitted everything that was pointless there would be practically no book left.
    In the end, I had absolutely no attachment to any character or the book. I just didn’t care.
    P.S. I HATED the “head-hopping”.

  33. I just finished the book in hopes that it would elaborate on the parts that were glossed over in the musical. I was very disappointed, especially after I had read so many reviews raving about how good the book is. I agree whole heartedly with everything you said. I thought the adult themes were unnecessary and lacked where they could have been used properly, ie Fiyero and Elphaba’s affair. I also thought the “head hopping” and lack of character developement and influence on the core of the story was distracting and detracted from the effect of the novel. I will be just fine to never read this book again.

  34. Could not agree more with your experience. I took my 12-year-old daughter to see the musical in New York and, although I don’t enjoy musicals, the story was so well-crafted in turning villain into hero I like it quite a bit.

    So I recently picked up and read the book and was underwhelmed to say the least. I found the plot of the musical far more interesting. SO glad I didn’t buy the other two in the trilogy.

    I think the difference for me was that the play explains Elphaba’s history and portrays her as hero.

    The book explains her history and explains what causes her to snap and become a villain.

    In the former, she never needs redemption. In the latter she needs it but never gets it.

  35. So I started to read this book last week for school (it’s a long story, projects and all) and I am only on the third part, chapter thing, it feels like every other page has some sexual reference/content. I was already forewarned about some of it, but I didn’t know that it was going to be as much as it has been. Before I continue I would like to point out that I am the right age to read this book (please understand that I’m not a little kid, I’m actually older than you think I am).
    Because sex is a normal topic with my friends and I, I’m creeped out by it at times yes but the mention of sex I’m not offended by. I have no problem if it actually had a point to the book, so when sex is just thrown in a book for no apparent reason I get annoyed… a lot.
    I don’t mind the book as a whole, I like the idea the author had in mind. Seeing that, sadly, I only watched the original movie once or twice so I vaguely remember all the detail but I remember the general idea of it, I am enjoying the book (minus those parts i.e. the Philosopher’s Club). But I am truthfully enjoying the book, I love how we enter the minds of Elphaba and the people around her that effects who she is and will become. I will admit there are time when the switching does a number on my head but all in all I love the multiple view points.
    Because I do write, I hate criticizing others’ work because I understand how hard it is to pour your heart and soul into something just for people to attack it like a crazed raccoon and rip it to shreds. But I do find critics useful in sense of understanding an audience and also to be able to go back and think of what could have been different or what a result of something could be.
    In my English class we went through Greek tragedies not so long ago and I keep reading through the comments that there is no redeeming character. I know that in Greek plays the ‘redeeming character’ or the ‘tragic hero’ isn’t always the main person or who we at the time feel pathos for. So I’m just wondering, because I haven’t finished the book yet, if you look at it in a different angle isn’t there someone who fits the description as a ‘redeeming character’ or a ‘tragic hero’.
    So far I’m not regretting choosing this book to do my project on, I hope that continues.

  36. Faithnight, you need to finish reading the whole book–no one can tell you what you will find. It’s different for everyone. And rent the movie Wizard of Oz–watch it before you finish the book. You will find a redeeming character, a tragic hero, or whatever else you need to find for your English project. But you have to do all the reading, all the watching, before you ask a group of people to answer your questions. Cheers.

  37. I just want to laugh at all those who think the book ADDED to the musical, as if the musical came first. There would be NO musical without this fantastic book. The book is complex, the characters are good and bad; the situation is realistic and is fantastic at the same time.

    The musical–for all its fine points–is just a sketch of this book. It uses only the barest minimum of the creativity in this book–and makes a musical out of it. The musical is all right on its own, and it has solid songs. But the book, in my mind, will always be superior–because it did MORE with the material, and dammit, it did it first.

  38. @FaithNight, for what it’s worth, I didn’t get the sense AT ALL that you were coming here trying to get us to do your homework for you. It looked to me like you were just adding to the discussion based on what you’ve read so far, and posing a hypothetical question about our perceptions of a redeeming character or tragic hero.

  39. Thank you @JMBauhaus for understanding that I wasn’t asking for help on my project (which I haven’t even received directions on). I was simply giving my point of view on the book that I have read so far ( Trust me, I am and will finish the book because I adore and treasure reading, writing, and everything dealing with literature). Along with asking a question to see what others think, because my other friend that has read this book doesn’t remember it so having a book discussion with her is out of the question. Oh and please do not think I am like some students that don’t read, doesn’t do any work, and asks a group of people questions to help them out on their homework.

  40. I think some are disillusioned about what the musical and the book are like. I, personally, love BOTH of them and have read A Lion Among Men. I love Mcguire’s style of writing. Though the book and the musical are nothing alike, reading the book before hand and afterwords really helped me enjoy the experience of the play much more. The novel, I feel, was far more politically based than the musical was. I also feel the relationship between Galinda and Elphaba was much more precise in the novel than the musical, I felt as if they were STILL trying to make Galinda seem much more ‘good’ than what she actually was. I think people just want it to be the way it was in The Wizard of Oz. The novels portray a much more interesting view of OZ. As for the issue of Liir, I can see why she would do anything. If you think about it, EVERY time she tried to help someone or do some good deed it always went horrible awry. Even in the musical she says, after Fiyero dies, that no good deed will she do, hence the song “No Good Deed”, perhaps she was afraid that if she tried to help Liir would come to harm as well, and after what happened to Fiyero, she just couldn’t risk it. A novel is all about how you percieve what the author was trying to do. I think the sexual innuendos enhanced experiencing Elphaba’s life. Especially the Philosopher’s Club. Although I can see how the POV head-hopping can be maddening (which occurs quite a bit in A Lion Among Men) But I enjoy seeing the different point of views. As for Galinda being ‘shallow’ in the book…it’s because she was. Even in the Musical she only changes her name because she thinks Fiyero would like it, saying “since Doctor Dillamond couldn’t pronounce my name, I will change it to Glinda, in his honor”…how pathetic can you get? She wasn’t a REALLY good friend She gave her the hat because it was too ugly for her, she gave her a make-over because she thought she wasn’t great just the way she was, and she wouldn’t stand by her friend because it would inhibit her ability to move up in the world, made the excuse that the people NEED someone to tell them everything is OK, and that’s just in the musical. Each have their weaknesses and strengths, and I love the idea of them both.

  41. i had no problem with the book. Sure, it’s not as good as the musical, but not a lot of things are. If you don’t try to compare them, but think of them as 2 different things (it’s not that hard, they are different enough to be 2 different things), it’s not that bad.

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  1. New Article at Fantasy Magazine: Wicked: Novel vs. Musical | Diabolical Plots

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