Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

dorothy must dieSynopsis: 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:

Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart

Steal the Scarecrow’s brain

Take the Lion’s courage

and then–

Dorothy must die

My thoughts: Okay, first off, how amazing is that synopsis? Seriously, I used to go find this book in Target just so I could read the back over and over because it gave me chills. I was SO pumped for this book–between the synopsis, the cover, the idea of a Wizard of Oz retelling…oh man, I was excited. And so on one fateful Target trip I finally just added the thing to my cart with a huge smile on my face. I took it as a vacation book this summer, ready to dig in and get lost in this new Oz. And I guess it would be right to say I definitely got lost in it.

What happened?

First I was introduced to Amy Gumm, the other girl from Kansas, who has the crappiest life ever. I wasn’t sold on her at first, but I figured she had the prime foundation for a ton of awesome character development, and I was willing to ride it out. I cared enough about her to root for her. By the end of the book, Amy just bugged me. Yeah, sure, she changed from a nobody Kansas girl to an Order of the Wicked assassin, but I just didn’t buy it. And by then, I didn’t even feel bad for her anymore.

Then I was introduced to this new Oz. Holy crap, this new Oz was freaking terrifying. It was brutal and violent and twisted and so scary, but I loved it because I had sat down to read about a retelling and that’s exactly what I was getting. I got so many goosebumps and shivers and soundless gasps from these awful versions of the Lion (who eats people’s fear. Scary.), the Tin Woodman (who leads an army of other tin people that also like to kill people, and who is madly in love with Dorothy. Creepy.), the Scarecrow (who experiments on any living thing he can find in gruesome ways. Disturbing.), and Dorothy herself (who is a big spoiled brat that nails people upside down to a stake of wood in a field if they talk back to her. Scary? Yes. Annoying at times? Absolutely. Though I think she was supposed to be. I couldn’t stand her, which was probably good because she’s the main villain of this whole thing). Props to Danielle Paige for not only knowing her Oz stuff, but turning it into something else entirely.

Then we got going on the plot: Dorothy has taken over Oz, Amy is recruited by the Wicked Witches to assassinate her, Amy is disguised as a maid in the palace in order to get close to Dorothy and, when given the word, kill her. Sounds exciting, right? I thought so too. I hung on for so long, and then finally–when I realized I had just skimmed three pages for the umpteenth time and didn’t really care–I finally admitted to myself that I was bored. Even when she was undercover at the palace, snooping around carefully because any wrong move would cost everything, I couldn’t bring myself to care that much. I was so sad! It just wasn’t doing anything for me. There wasn’t a single character I really liked either. And Nox and Amy’s ‘relationship’ if you can call it that…barf.

Eventually I thought that maybe the cool world of Oz would pull me through, but even that got old. I felt like Danielle Paige started trying way too hard to be edgy and cool, and it just came off as needlessly violent and chaotic and disorganized. Major disappointment.

Somehow I stuck through it until the end–if anything, I wanted to see Dorothy die. I’d gone through this much, right? Get this: that whole mission thing in the synopsis that had blown me away from the get go–steal the Lion’s courage and all that–wasn’t even introduced until maybe the second to last page. And (possible spoilers though it’s a series so I don’t know why I was so surprised) Dorothy didn’t even die! And now Amy’s off with the monkeys or something and I…ugh. Yeah. I was just really disappointed. It had so much promise and so much excitement around it, and now I wish I kind of hadn’t read it. For me, it ended up like one of those amazing trailers that get you so excited to see the movie, but the movie ends up being barely average, so you pretend like the trailer is the only thing that exists. Maybe someday I’ll venture into the sequel, but for now I’ll just let this one sit.

Rated 2.8/5 for a cool retelling idea and one of my favorite synopses of all time