Review: Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Published: April 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
Pages: 452 pages

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:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

"They talk about Oz where I'm from. I've heard about it my whole life. But this is messed up. What happened here?"
Indigo's impassive face twisted into a snarl. "Dorothy happened", she said.

- Danielle Paige, Dorothy Must Die

Let me tell you how much I loved this book: a lot. Dorothy Must Die surprised me in so many ways it's hardly describable. This book was a roller coaster from beginning to the end. As the protagonist got swept up by the tornado and dropped into a whole new world, I felt like I was too. There remains nothing of the Oz you think you know, and that's what made everything outstanding. Welcome, Dorothy Must Die, to my all-time favourites.

As I said, the most outstanding aspect of the novel must be the world. It's such a twist to the original works of Frank L. Baum, I absolutely love it. The post-apocalyptic feel to it makes it special, but to discover what's really going on keeps you interested throughout the book. This is definitely not the Oz you thought you knew. Everything wicked seems to be good, and vice versa. It's a mess, a very interesting one. It's intriguing and attracts all sorts of audience, including the people who know little to none about Oz. I do understand the fact that it may seem complicated in the beginning because there aren't real explanations. You either understand or you search for it on Oz wikia. I did the second, and without having read any originals, I'm pretty sure almost everything I got introduced was nothing new, and thus easy to follow. You have the Munchkins, the flying monkeys, witches, the Emerald City, the yellow brick road, etc.  It all has its stereotypical vibe and features. However, the author managed to bend everyone in a way you would have never seen coming. That's where the post-apocalyptic theme comes in. It's there because of the main story-line, and can't be ignored. I just loved its big impact on everything and how it all played out. There is a lot of world building for the second and third book in the series, and I loved every aspect of it. This may not be the world I want to live in, but certainly one I'd love to read more about.

Not only the world was done really well, the pace is also something that stood out. There were always things happening, and they grab your attention. Even better, they don't lose it. When I was worried that things were going at a slower pace, Paige threw some action in there at the right moments that kept me going. With some books it's the case that when the pace can completely ruin the book. I'm so grateful it didn't. The plot was another wonderful addition to the book. Amy gets thrown into Oz and learns her way through it, in way that's still entertaining and fun. Even though the word 'fun' is one huge overstatement in the new Oz. The transition from one scene to another went in a smooth transition and everything was knitted well together. I've always had a thing for assassins, and that story-line was one I enjoyed to the fullest.

Because the romance in Dorothy Must Die is barely there, I enjoyed it so, so much. Amy's little crush on someone is believable. In a certain way we've all experienced this. It brought light-hearted moments to the dark world of Oz. Believe me, after reading two hundred pages of sudden deaths and gore and blood, you're craving for a hint of romance. It stays a hint throughout the whole book and I loved that. There's no need to rush anything. After all, the girl's got other things to worry about.

There is so much to talk about when it comes to the characters. Starting with Dorothy. How do you explain someone so cruel while she's still Dorothy Gale? I haven't got a clue why or how she became the person she's now. The way she commands everyone around her without a noticeable spark of rebellion is astonishing. She's that perfect example of people who went wacky when the power got to their head. Her actions are for some reason entertaining. She's that character you both want to see dead and to read more and more about. What I have here, is a series love-hate relationship. And I think that's just perfect. I can already see her in her dresses with lots of cleavage and her high-heeled red shoes. It's an image that fits her perfectly, especially the shoes. While she looks like a slut, the contrast between her appearance and her actions is grand. This side of Dorothy isn't to be messed with, and it was getting clearer and clearer as I progressed with the book.

Moving onto Amy, her relationship with Dorothy had to be one of the most entertaining relationships out of the entire novel. Behind all the lunacy, I got to understand why Dorothy felt an immediate hate towards her. Of course she's a sociopath, but what Amy thought was right. She's an infiltrator in Dorothy's perfect world and after all, makes her realise she's not as special as she thought she was. I see lots of potential for those two in the future, filled with more hatred and hopefully a succeeded mission. Amy herself is a protagonist you love from the start. Being a poor girl who lives in a trailer park in Kansas gives the first impression of not being perfect. She's strong and believes in what is good, and has her insecurities. She's just new to everything. She doesn't know who's really good, and because of that she's careful and mostly thinks before she acts. There are these exceptions when she does something stupid, but then immediately learns from her mistakes. The training didn't turn her into an awesome assassin in a matter of days. She's scared and just wants to be home, however it doesn't mean that she's willing to give up. All in all? A realistic character, and thank the literary gods for that.

Every other character introduced had a role to play. There are not just there to fill up the pages, they create plot twists I never saw coming. They help Amy on her way to become the person they want her to be, in order to finally kill Dorothy. Unfortunately, there are sudden deaths of some fantastic characters. I hate to say this, but that's how things go under Dorothy's rule. They all create a wonderful cast which belongs to a wonderful start of the trilogy.

However it is a retelling of Frank L. Baum's popular novels set in Oz, Dorothy Must Die is without a doubt one of the most original novels I've ever read. I loved it from beginning to end, the characters were all so well done and with a hint of romance, I see great potential for this new trilogy. If only someone would buy the movie rights already.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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