Book Review: Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die coverTitle: Dorothy Must Die

Author: Danielle Paige

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Hardback: 452 pages

Stand alone or series: First book in a series

How did I get this book: Bought


Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the dust jacket):

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.

What I thought:

Alright, so the back cover of Dorothy Must Die says this: Your Mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And then – Dorothy must die. Only you can make Oz a free land again.

I want to start with my biggest problem with this book because it is still fresh in my mind as I’ve just finished the book – and because it is so unbelievably annoying and I can’t really get over it.

Dorothy Must Die is 452 pages long – FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO PAGES – and other than the fact that Dorothy must die, not one of the other three things that Amy must accomplish is even mentioned in the book until the LAST EIGHT PAGES. (I’d like to go ahead and apologize for the amount of rage caps that will probably be in this review). The last eight pages, guys. This book is 452 pages, and the whole point of the book isn’t mentioned until the last eight pages?! I know I keep repeating myself, but I’m hoping if I continue to type it, it will finally make sense. (It’s not helping).

This book started off pretty great. It captured my attention, and I was ready for a really great retelling of one of my favorite stories. It drew me in and got me invested in the story. And then I got bored. Like really bored. This book is probably 200 pages too long, and most of the middle section is so slowly paced that I had to just force myself through it. As Amy asks herself at least ten times, “What had I gotten myself into?” This makes me really sad because it started off making me want to read more, and then I just really didn’t care to do so. Then it picks up again in the last, like, ten pages. UM, WHAT?

Let’s talk about characters, shall we? I’ll start with the ones we already know: the lion, the scarecrow, the tin man, and Dorothy. The first three are actually three of the only parts I really enjoyed about the book. They have been changed so that the gifts bestowed upon them by the Wizard are what rules them now: the lion’s courage, the scarecrow’s brain, and the tin man’s heart. Imagine this: the Lion is a huge and super muscle-y and has a jaw that he can unhinge to eat his victims; he feeds on people’s fear. Such a great idea! There’s a scene wherein you get to see him in all his glory, and it was one of the scenes in which I was genuinely engrossed. The Scarecrow injects other people’s melted down brains into his own and is a “thinker”: basically he experiments on people and winged monkeys alike. These characters are terrifying.

Now, Amy. Oh, geez. She’s the main character in this book, and I find myself having finished the book and not caring enough about her to actually want to read any of the others in the series. That’s not good. She’s the type of girl that you yell at during horror movies to run, DON’T GO IN THERE, shut up! I also don’t think that her “transformation” was believable. The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked say she’s the only one who can save Oz, because she’s the first person from outside of Oz to come since Dorothy, so they train her to fight. But I just don’t see why the trust her so much. I’m sorry. There were times when she really irritated me, but other times I thought she was a pretty good narrator, especially when it came down to her moral compass and saving poor winged monkeys.

One thing I did enjoy was the world building. I really enjoyed learning about magic in Oz and how Dorothy seized power (even if I didn’t like the way Dorothy was imagined). We get to interact with the residents of Oz and meet some cool, new characters. The Oz in Dorothy Must Die is dark, twisted, and scary.

On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy Paige’s writing style. It is too literal. Instead of using her words to show us what is happening, she tells us. It was like I did this, so this happened. Then I did that. Also, there’s this:

That was yesterday. Now it was today. (Page 251)

I mean, REALLY? That’s usually how time works, thanks.

I won’t even get into the romance in the novel, except to say, I didn’t believe it AT ALL. I felt no chemistry.

The bottom line:

I think the hype surrounding this book was a major problem. I was drawn in because of that, and I was obviously disappointed. I think if it had been executed better, it could have been a really great book. The concept behind it is fantastic, but it is too long and too literal. The blurb on the back was WAY deceiving, too. I will say that there were some pretty cool ideas, and the dark Oz in the novel is quite interesting. But there were a lot of problems that just didn’t outweigh the few good things.

Also, I didn’t know until after I read it, but Dorothy Must Die is a Full Fathom Five book, and that makes me really mad and upset I bought it. If you don’t know what FFF means, this page explains it really well.

I probably wouldn’t read the others in the series anyway, but now I really won’t.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad

Have you read this book? What did you think? Maybe you liked it. Tell me in the comments.

Reading nextRivers by Michael Farris Smith

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Dorothy Must Die

  1. Pingback: #BookBlogWriMo: #Top10Tuesday – Most Popular Posts | Caught Read Handed

  2. I actually liked the ending but, like you and many others have said, most of the book was boring, drawn-out and nonsensical. If it had actually been about what the blurb described, it could have been amazing!

  3. Pingback: Liebster Blog Award {Bookish} | booknerderie

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  5. Aw man, this makes me so sad because this book seemed like it had so much potential to be awesome. I also didn’t realise it was a FFF book – ick. Thanks for saving me the trouble of reading it!

  6. This book has been getting a lot of hype, and I’ve been thinking about adding it to my TBR list. I’m not so sure about it now, because the problems you pointed out are all things I’d be pretty annoyed with >.<

    Great review!

  7. That’s really disappointing to hear that such a great concept was so poorly handled, and even more disappointing that it was hijacked by FFF, ugh. Those people have no moral or literary integrity whatsoever. I did find your indignation quite funny though (sorry!) although I certainly agree with you. Hopefully the next book will be more enjoyable.

  8. I almost bought a copy of this on Easter – now I’m glad I didn’t! I recently read The Wizard of Oz to my 5 year old daughter, and we both loved it (and the movie, of course). Our favorite character is the Lion, so I would kind of like to read just that portion of Dorothy Must Die. 🙂 I guess for reimagined Oz, I’ll stick to Gregory Maguire.
    I ended up buying a copy of The Giver instead of this book. When it was originally published in 1993 I was 15 – too old for middle grade fiction, and not old enough to know better. 😉 I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

  9. I love reading your reviews, Stefani, and like Noelle, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about Rivers! You always make me feel like I’m not reading enough, but I’m glad because most of the time, I’m not, and I need someone to try to keep up with. Though, let’s all be honest, I’ll probably never keep up with you 🙂

    • Aw! Yay! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying them.
      Haha. I do make it quite hard to keep up with me, don’t I?
      But that’s my hope here: to inspire others to read more, and to give them honest reviews of what I’ve read. 🙂

  10. Well, I’m glad I’ve read your review now! I had been considering reading it but now I won’t waste the time. However (and I don’t mean to sway you but…), ‘Rivers’ is really good. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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