Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guest Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Published: HarperCollins
Reviewer: Stephanie

My Rating:

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.

I first heard about Dorothy Must Die at NY Comic-Con 2013. Usually it is not something I would read. Yes, I did read and loved Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, but that was fan fiction backstory for the witch. Dorothy Must Die is not backstory, it is Dorothy coming back and becoming evil. However, I picked up a Comic-Con exclusive prepublication excerpt because it was free and I'll grab anything that is a free sampler at Comic-Con.

When I read the first four chapters of the excerpt I liked it enough to put it on my to-read list. The character of Indigo was really the one who drew me in. I liked her sass.

Before the novel was released a prequel e-book novella was release, No Place Like Oz. That story felt very rushed, sloppy, and lacked focus of Dorothy's mission.

I hoped that would not be the case for Dorothy Must Die. It stared out well. I still liked Indigo, who first sparked my interest. I did grow to like Amy too. Dorothy, while despicable, was still as one dimensional and bratty as she was in the prequel novella. The other characters were just there and I didn't form any connection to them, except perhaps Ollie, the Wingless Monkey.

The middle slows down a lot. Sometimes I found myself having to push through and find the motivation to continue. What annoyed me was that the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked sends Amy to be a spy without a clear understanding of her mission. They were very cryptic with her and her cluelessness made the story drag on.

This also should have been a stand alone novel. The back of the sampler I picked up at NYCC says:

There's a new girl from Kansas in Oz...
and she has a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart,
Steal the Scarecrow's brain,
Take the Lion's courage, and then-
Dorothy Must Die.

Let me just say, that mission was not made clear till the end leaving it open for sequels. This would have been a stronger story had it being a stand alone, with that teaser as her mission. As a result the story has a lot of boring filler and with some predictable outcomes.

I will say that the last 75 pages or so does pick up. Characters that were long left out of the story return and they bring some action with them.

I also cannot leave this fact out that I learned. Like I do with all the books I read, when I am done I browse around Goodreads to read what others thought. That is where I found out about Full Fathom Five and it's connection to James Frey, the con man who wrote A Million Little Pieces. Here is the full article:

Here is the gist of it:

The name James Frey is tainted, so what did he do? He launched a book packaging company specialising in the trend du jour, young adult fiction. Full Fathom Five is the powerhouse behind The Lorien Legacies, the first book in the series being I Am Number Four. You may remember the terrible flop of a movie that came with the publishing deal for ‘Pittacus Lore’.

What you might not remember is the searing New York Magazine piece that revealed the brutal contracts given to collaborators on the assembly line, including a paltry $250 advance for writers and a $50,000 penalty if they admitted to working with Full Fathom Five. New York’s piece also tackled the cruel and bullying ways in which Frey treated the young, hopeful MFA graduates roped in to do all the dirty work and the screaming match he got into with his collaborator on I Am Number Four.

Book packaging is nothing new in publishing, much less YA. It’s not necessarily a shady business tactic. Indeed, best-selling YA & MG author Lauren Oliver formed Paper Lantern Lit and has made a success of it. The difference between her and Frey is that she doesn’t treat her writers like dirt. Paper Lantern Lit is about nurturing talent, not exploiting it.

Now I have to look out for Full Fathom Five in the copyright.

I will end on this. I highly doubt I will be reading the sequel. I decided that before I found that article. Dorothy Must Die had potential, as a stand alone. Even though I did like Amy, I don't think I can stick around to see how she actually accomplishes her mission.

2 out 5 tin farms.

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