Mar 25, 2014

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: April 1, 2014
Pages/Format: 432, ARC

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 blue birds. 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 the yellow brick road, though—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:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

Book in One Word: Hmmm...

I'll be honest: I wasn't super excited about Dorothy Must Die. Something about the idea of the story just didn't sweep me off my feet (maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz?). When I received an ARC, I got a little excited: the outside of the book looked fantastic, and I thought that maybe this book would be amazing. But looks can be deceiving.

Dorothy Must Die started off pretty strong. The first few chapters had me really into it, and all I wanted to do was read this book. Then the writing started to bother me. Then I hit a dry spell from, I don't know, pages one hundred to two hundred? I lost the stamina to finish this book, and I'd just read a chapter at a time then put it down. And I think the biggest problem was the writing. For me, it just did not work throughout. Some chapter endings seemed awkward, and the way things were written was stiff. I want to be told the story, but tell me by showing me. (If that even makes any sense.) There were times when the writing didn't bother me, but still, the issue was there. It affected how I read the story, and it affected the overall execution of the story.

As is evidenced by the title, Dorothy Must Die is a major twist on the original The Wizard of Oz tale. Dorothy is evil, and so's her entourage: the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion. Just because someone's Wicked or Good doesn't mean they actually are, Dorothy's siphoning all of Oz's magic for herself, and Oz is falling apart. Here, the yellow brick road won't help you. But when Kansas resident and trailer-park-living Amy Gumm (called Salvation Amy by the mean girls at school) finds herself and her trailer swept up during a tornado and landing in Oz, she learns that she's the only one who can kill Dorothy and return Oz to normal. However, it isn't that simple, and other plots collide within the story.

Since all isn't as it seems in Oz and I don't want to give too much away, I don't want to mention most of the characters or too much about them. The story's told from the POV of Amy Gumm, the first to come to Oz since Dorothy, and its supposed salvation. Sometimes the writing made me irritated with her, but other she was an okay MC. She meets several people during her journey in Oz, like those in the Revolutionary Order for the Wicked. (Nox, I think I like you.) Of course, she also meets Dorothy & Co., all of whom are vial. (Seriously, Dorothy is a total b.) I don't know what happened to make them all go AWOL, but sheesh. Dorothy's like a freaking dictator (but dressed well and covered in makeup, of course), the Lion is most certainly not cowardly, the Scarecrow's like an evil, mad scientist, and the Tin Woodman has a heart...but not in a good way. It was cool to meet all these characters, but I would've liked to see more of them, actually meet them and get to know them.

Despite everything, there's still something that I liked about Dorothy Must Die, and I don't find myself filled with dislike for the book. (Though I am a bit disappointed. I was hoping this would be epic.) More than once I wanted to just keep reading, or if I had to put it down and I just wanted to pick it right back up. I wanted to see how this odd-ball story would play out, especially since like none of my predictions came true. I had ideas of how this might end, but at the same time I didn't. And seriously, that ending? I went, "Wait, what?" I do not know what happened, it's sort of a cliffhanger (this is a series, in case you didn't know, though I think it could've maybe been just one book...), and a total shocker happened. Like, WHAT? So there's that.

There's a lot of hype surrounding Dorothy Must Die (at least that's how it looks to me), and that's just because of its concept. I don't know if the hype will hurt this book for some people. I think it might have been a super awesome, holy crap kind of book if it would've been executed differently, but I know some people will love this. For me, something was just missing (and again, the writing. Some things seemed repeated, and there was a slight lack of research, I think. For instance, crows and ravens are not the same thing. And neither are cyclones and tornadoes.) Also, this book wasn't what I had expected. I find the blurb to be somewhat deceiving, and I feel like this was more of a buildup to the action that's going to come later in the series. And I wish it was darker and more twisted, or that I at least felt that; it may have made a difference. While this book may cross my thoughts from time to time, I don't think it will stick with me. However, I am interested in reading the sequel, but I'm not dying to get my hands on it (and I'm hoping the writing style improves). In the meantime, there's no place like home. *clicks books together*

Did I like it? Yes...
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Probably not.
Would I purchase it? I may be drawn to the cover when I see it in-person, but I'm not in any rush to own a finished copy of this.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of retellings with a twist (or several), and, of course, all you people who love The Wizard of Oz.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.


  1. I am really excited about this book!! I wish I got a chance to review it before it comes out :( Oh well... next week isn't that far away! I'm sorry you weren't wowed by it. There is A LOT of hype surrounding this book, so it doesn't surprise me to read a lot of mixed reviews. I hate hype sometimes! I can't believe Dorothy is evil though... that's sound INSANE!! And really cool. Great review!

  2. That's one each way so far. I am still very excited to read this, I loved the Wizard of Oz, and I read the sample chapters that were released last week and so far I like what I've read.
    Shame it didn't get the wows and greats here

    88dreamers @ Seriesly Reading


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