Release Date - April 1, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 432 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.It's said that there is no place like home. For Dorothy, however, there is no place like Oz. Dorothy Must Die offers up a deliciously twisted take on Oz that has it's own share of twists, meticulous plotting, and one inspiring heroine.
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.
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!
As I began reading this novel (and it's prequel) I was immediately struck at the plotting and planning that appears to have gone into the series. Thing are teased, revealed, and set up to make sure the pacing remains solid throughout the story. As a reader, you're given the information at just the right time. I expect that Danielle has charts, extensive notes, and plans laid out somewhere, because it's clearly shows in this novel's execution. Danielle Paige clearly knows where she wants the story to go, and how it'll get there. It left me eager to sit back, and enjoy where ever Danielle is taking the story.
Danielle has created a dynamic power struggle between The Winged Ones, Dorothy and her clan, and of course, Amy and the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. The tension that is building, the reluctant alliances,and those outsiders whose motivations are unknown all serve to remind Amy, and the reader, that this isn't the Oz of your childhood. Amy is unsure what is the right thing to do, or who to trust. Things are a little more morally ambiguous that perhaps the reader, and Amy, would like.
The magical, fantastical elements of Oz are still prevalent. If anything they embraced, and heightened. The spin she puts on Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow, and The Tin Woodsman are authentic to the story, while being different enough to impress. Amy's mission itself, a sort of reverse from the usual, delighted me. The clear route of taking back the heart, brain, and courage sets up the story, while giving a fun nod to it's inspiration.
The characters themselves appear larger than the pages they are kept in. Dorothy's henchmen, Dorothy herself, and everyone in between are vivid and somehow more than what I was expecting. Danielle allows character progression along with plot movement. I am looking forward to more character development in the sequels now the wold they're in has been so careful laid out.
Amy is easily one of my favourite heroines in a YA novel. She's not instantly capable of saving Oz. She needs to train, and prepare. She had natural character progression that made her feel all the more real. Her conflicted nature about what she should do, and whether Dorothy should be killed serves to highlight the main theme of the book - In Oz Good and Wicked are interchangeable.
Dorothy is easily someone I loved to hate. She's deliciously wicked, and yet that innocent, plucky farm girl is still there. She wanted, wished, and yearned for something bigger and it took control of her. Her story is one of the addiction nature of power, and how it can corrupt even the most unsuspecting of us. Her evilness is tinged with a bit of a sympathetic angle that only adds to her character (especially since you never know who is using who in Oz).
The Winged Ones and their quest for freedom touched me more than any other part of the novel. There is a horrifying, crushing scene that also invokes a feeling of rebellion. It was, for me, a scene of vividly imagery and really powerful. It was sort of a turning point for myself on how I viewed the changes in Oz, and it's tyrannical ruler.
The romance in the book is interwoven in little spurts throughout Amy's journey. Amy has way more pressing issues than romance, and as such, it's a minor background element. It doesn't control or push the plot forward, instead it just organically happens. There is a hint of a love triangle that is quickly squashed in one of the best twists I've come across recently. I didn't expect it, and I was delighted when it happened. While this may not have been the author's intention, it felt like her way of telling us that we only think we know where this story is going. For me, it read like the usual 'check marks' in a YA series are being tossed aside, or come with a twist.
An impeccably plotted and executed start to what, I am sure, will be a stunning trilogy. Filled with seductive darkness, thrilling nods to a classic, and main character who quickly became a favourite, Dorothy Must Die, is a more than impressive debut - it's wickedly addictive.