Meet Amy Gumm of Dusty Acres, Kansas. Or, that's the neighbourhood she and her mom and their pet rat star grow up in. And they live in a trailer park. Without wheels. And Amy has to hide her savings of 347 dollars in a sock. And she's bullied in school because she's known to be poor, and has the worst reputation possible from pregnant high schooler Madison Pendleton, who utilizes her pregnancy to pin the blame of everything on Amy. Enough to get her suspended. Maybe Amy's wretched life is a reason she dyed her hair pink. Fitting for the sort of place she's about to go to. When her mom is away, she and Star are whisked away on a tornado in their trailer park and they land in a place that has a dead feel, sparkling with blue with carnivorous cornfields and red-haired fairies and little people with tattoos who try their best to stay away from that weird girl. Welcome to Oz. The new Oz. One where Dorothy came back after she returned home and decided to come back after not liking it. Now, she's evil. Her greed has overtaken her, and now The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, The Lion and even Glinda are her loyal guards, servants and predators. How so? The scarecrow's brain has turned him into a brain dissector and experimenter. In order to bring Oz back to peace and love, Dorothy Must Die. And who can do it? No one but Amy. Who's going to help her? Two words; pointy hats.
I picked up Dorothy Must Die knowing I was probably going to recommend it. I thought about it for about a month until I finally sunk my eyes into it. And let me say that Danielle Paige is boss with descriptions. She is able to inform us of the setting or what magic looks and feels like without taking us out of an exciting sequence. Midway through, I was worried it was going to poison itself with the "unfair training-startup book" mistake. Nope. The book focuses on what we picked the book up for, and it leads to a marvellous mission of corridors and sneaking and secret passageways and magic that never feels like something doesn't make sense. And the romance aspect for once doesn't shut everything away and prevents Amy from thinking straight.
The book also cleverly leaves out unanswered questions that I can't wait to find out about. Like The Taking and Red Queen, the cliffhanger marvellously prevents a reading slump and the twist is great yet...strange. I guess that's Oz for you.
You know, I gave the same grade as this book to Splintered, a new take/sequel to Alice in Wonderland. And I liked Splintered for the way I felt in the descriptions and some fun fantasy but I think I'm going to narrow my grade of that book to a 2 1/2. I liked Dorothy Must Die much more. And Dorothy. Oooooh boy...Dorothy can join Hatch, Levana and Maven alongside the most fist-clenching antagonists of the YA literary world. I didn't believe that when I first looked at the cover; I thought it was like some adventure where Dorothy's friends have turned against her or something. It's completely backwards, and it's amazing how stupid her servants seem. I can't wait to see them again in the sequels and find out what they feel.
Okay, so bad things? Well, there's a character who gets killed off so early I thought Danielle Paige was kidding. A character as interesting as that was to go to waste, I thought that character was going to accompany Amy on her way down to Emerald City like the Dorothy mixup team. Guess not. After that happens, it's sort of hard to believe Amy says, "But I just got here" a few pages later. There's also a case of not really understanding what Amy's thinking in this one scene where she is able to see someone else through a glass ball. I don't know why that would make her mad. I know that would make her maybe annoyed, maybe sad, but not infuriated. There's also a little bit of false advertising in the description. I understand an interesting one is important to grab the reader into buying it. I understand that entirely, but it kind of reveals way too much for the beginning and sums up basic points for the next book that the characters don't know about till the book's over.
But how can you go wrong with one of the most inventive yet beautifully simple ideas for a book series in a very long time? A lot happens in Dorothy Must Die, and it almost never feels like it sags. It wasn't quite good enough to get on my Best of the Year list but like being in the tornado itself at midnight, it's a joyfully goth spin. Oh, and some of these secret passageways here are just brilliant!!!