Why, My Little Party’s Just Beginning

Ah, here we are! Finally I can dish out a bit of chatter on Dorothy Must Die. Danielle Paige has not let me down with her interpretation of Post-Dorothy Oz. As I mentioned in my prior post that I hold this franchise in high regard… tangled up in that regard is my nostalgia, and therefore a clear bias, along with the utmost of love for this piece.

Imagine trusting someone so much, you just know that anything they do or say is golden in your eyes. Coming from one as apprehensive about making new friends as me, earning that level of trust takes time… slowly inching the door open. But once that door is open, it stays that way! It’s a lot easier to overlook flaws or short-comings.

Uh oh, now it sounds like I’m going to rip into things! Not so — I just want you, Kind Reader, to understand my clear stance on Oz-ian things.

Dorothy Must Die

After finishing No Place Like Oz, I immediately picked up my (signed!) copy of DMD and sped through the first few chapters. Just like NPLO, Paige pays homage to the original books. I know she did a lot of reading and research into them, too, sending a fan like me squee-ing when I encountered old characters like Jellia Jamb, The Patchwork Girl and Frogman later in the book. Paige, however, is really out for blood. Her protagonist Amy Gumm (taken from Judy Garland’s true name!) is continually forced into some form of solitude… and I’ll tell you why I like that:

In so many books, characters are transported to another land/world/time and thus begins the questions and quests that plague every RPG video game… Where am I? How did I get here? What’s my name again? I know this literary device helps the reader/player insert themselves into the novel for a closer connection with the story, but many times I find these characters turn out to be husks, lacking depth. Not so with our Amy. She has a clear outward persona at the beginning of the story, but through many events, she is separated from things… her home, her mother, even her new friend after landing in Oz (OMG, I was shocked!). Again and again, Amy is forced into being alone, which forces her to think and ponder and muse. These inner monologues, for me, greatly strengthened her characterization. Far from a husk, Amy is a smoldering ember.

Realizing this is the first of a trilogy (right?), there’s much to be said for a writer of young adult literature to pen a character with, from what I can tell, a clear path for her development and growth over the course of the story. I never found myself rolling my eyes like I have with other YA protags. Amy, like a rock in the tumbling waves, is slowly being shaped by her environment. Loss after loss after mishap after near misses… she keeps getting beaten down.

What will be interesting in the future installments is how her further development is treated. It is clear that she is being built up to be a desensitized assassin, but with no clear-cut motives from her surrounding cast members, I can guarantee she’ll be faced with a decision that will question her moral integrity. Where’s the line between Good and Wicked? Perhaps she’ll discover it’s all a matter of perspective. (And therefore, fits snugly into the YA genre. Yay for morality & ethics building!)

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Awrighty, Danielle — You’ve got me believing Dorothy is an evil bitch. And in those final scenes, you also got me asking: Does Dorothy HAVE to die?? Ugh, look what you’ve done!

Let’s see what else ya got comin’ our way! ;D

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Where You Belong

Veering slightly off the track of my trajectory of books for the year, I couldn’t help but read No Place Like Oz, the prequel e-novella by Danielle Paige, as soon as I caught wind of it. I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her and listening to her talk about her (now New York Bestselling) book Dorothy Must Die at my local bookstore, The Odyssey.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of my favorite franchises of all time. I mean favorite. I’m talking: I had a Wizard of Oz birthday cake, y’all. FAV. Over the years, Baum’s books have been adapted countless times, and I would say that this newest addition to the world does not disappoint. Thankfully, I can launch myself directly in to Dorothy Must Die without having to wait. Though I haven’t finished many  of the original Baum books, I have completed the more popular of the stories, which is where Paige’s books draw their inspiration.

“Home isn’t where you’re born — it’s where you belong” 

No  Place Like Oz

 

This prequel brings us back into Dorothy’s life a few months following her return to Kansas. Though she’s been happy to get home after all of her adventures, she has gotten a bit stir-crazy knowing that there’s a whole world out there beyond dusty old farmlands. On her sixteenth birthday she receives a mysterious package containing fancy red heels that end up transporting not just her, but also Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to Oz. Once there, she resolves to never return to Kansas, despite her family’s protests, and to reunite with her old friends. Instead, she ends up spending much of her time at the Emerald City and becomes the acquaintance of the new ruler, Ozma…. And I won’t spoil anything else — but it’s good!

Reading through Paige’s text feels so familiar. Whether it’s the subject of Oz or perhaps her style of writing, I breezed through this novella in just a few hours. One thing I always appreciated about Baum’s original Oz stories is his ability to describe characters and scenarios in such a way that is brief, yet provides just enough detail  to allow your mind to spin these marvelous images. I find Paige achieves this in very much a similar way. Her prose is contemporary, yet not too “current-dated,” by which I mean, it does not fall into today’s vernacular common place in other young adult works. That said, it does still feel very Y.A.. (I’ll have to re-read some of Baum’s books to get a sense of how they match up.)

In this little novella, we see quite a development in the character of Dorothy, from a very familiar “oh-fiddle-dee-dee” corn-fed girl to… well… I won’t ruin it… But trust me on this: it’s worth the read. This, so far, seems like the perfect primer for the full-length Dorothy Must Die, and at a very reasonable $1.99 from Amazon’s Kindle Store, it’s worth the buy. You can bet I’ll be writing about Dorothy Must Die when I finish that, too.

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Special shout out — Hey Ma, if I wasn’t clear in the rest of this entry…

GO READ THIS!