Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Release: April 1st 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, YA
#1 in the Dorothy Must Die trilogy
Sequels: The Wicked Will Rise (#2), Yellow Brick War (#3)
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.
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.
Huh, how tedious, really. This is a book that has been talked about a lot when it came out, and I wanted to see for myself if it was any good, even though I have read most of the reviews, which say the same thing I am saying now: It's not bad, but it's not good, either.
I think the deal breaker, at least for me, was simply the whole messy plot. It just seemed so unorganized and scrambled together, like Paige just threw it all together randomly as she went along with no real guidelines, as if she were all playing it by ear going by what she felt like at the moment. She wants her two main characters to have a dancing scene in which they somewhat bond? Sure. Some random rescue mission? Oh, yeah, here we go. And so on, the plot was all over the place, which wasn't very fitting to the whole atmosphere of this new run-down Oz. It would have belonged more in a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but not this.
Also, the romance was just absolutely horrible. It's an understatement even to say that it's insta-love, because this is seriously one of the heaviest and most terrible insta-love cases I have ever come across. It almost seemed like Amy decided right on the spot, 5 seconds after spotting Nox, that she was in love with him and from there on out, it was treated like it was inevitable that they'd fall in love together, I mean, he's the only gorgeous guy around and she's the only girl around that doesn't have any scars and has maintained her limbs fully intact. As a result, to say I frowned upon their relationship would be too kind, and I couldn't scrounge up even the tiniest fuck to give about them, not to mention that it was just unrealistic for them to fall in love this quickly. Honestly, it's almost quicker than Luce falling for Daniel in Fallen. And almost as misogynistic, by the way, with Nox being mostly a jerk towards her. Oh, joy.
Furthermore, the whole thing just seemed ridiculous and was very inconsistent in the atmosphere it wanted to portray. You know, there are authors out there that can do grotesque backdrops perfectly, the ones where everything is pink and fluffy and the serial killer that mutilates her corpses is a ten-year-old girl with blond pigtails, but Paige is definitely not one of those authors. The whole contrast she wanted to create, with Dorothy's permasmile and OCD and pink everything, but then ripping out arms and other extremities, it just didn't work for me. The brutal, violent stuff only ever surfaced once in a while, for a short amount of time, and was immediately glossed over and forgotten again, like with a character death at the beginning that was supposed to be gruesome and shocking, but Amy doesn't even think about it anymore 100 pages later. Nice try, but it failed in the end.
Which bears the question of Amy's character as a whole, who did not seem to have any development whatsoever. Usually, I can find at least one thing that about a character that has changed about them during the story, however small it might be, but with Amy, I really come up empty. Yes, she has learned how to do magic and etiquette and all that, but it did not have any reflection whatsoever upon her attitude, her character, her emotions, not really. She was this empty void that just sucked everything up from the story and didn't even process it, just ejected it into the air again just like that. Almost like she inhales oxygen, but instead of exhaling carbon dioxide, she exhales oxygen again. I will give her one thing however, and that is that she's not recklessly stupid. She has that moronic heroic trait that makes her want to save as many people as she can, but she isn't a complete idiot about it and doesn't risk downright exposure just to save one life that's totally irrelevant to her. She does do covert rescue missions, yes, but if it means stepping up to the villain directly and revealing herself immediately, and I valued that immensely. So, even if she is a non-evolving airhead, at least, she is sensible to a fault.
The other characters did not have any redeeming qualities whatsoever, except for Pete maybe who was at least interesting in some way, but other than that ... Amy's told by everyone that she shouldn't trust anyone, not even the person who's telling her that right now, but the whole time, we don't really have any motive not to trust these guys and to question their motives. There are no hints dropped whatsoever to any ulterior motives that could be involved, which was just ... lame. There was one plot twist at the end that really threw me, one in the whole book. After a while, it expectedly just got tedious and boring.
All in all, if you're a real die-hard Oz fan, you might want to try it and see if it's your thing, it's at least not one of those utterly idiotic books that make you want to rip your hair out in frustration, but I would also advise you to spend your time reading another, better book. As far as dark retellings go, I prefer the likes of Splintered.