Dorothy Must Die // Book Review


I know I wasn’t gone for too terribly long but it has felt like FOREVER.

In case you missed it: Deacon and I have been going through the long and exhausting process of moving from an apartment to a small house. It has been a bigger struggle than we could have imagined. I will hopefully catch you guys all up on that in the near future (and provide pictures!), but for now I want to talk about Dorothy Must Die.

I had such high hopes for this one. People very rarely recommend books to me, but multiple people told me to read this. All of my friends on Goodreads gave it four stars. The cover is gorgeous.

But I loathed this book, unfortunately.

Reasons, let’s go:

1) The narrator was annoying.
Amy Gumm was painfully hard for me to listen to. The first half of the book is spent with her whining and complaining about how badly her mother treated her. I really did not care. I get that her life was set up to parallel what was going on in Oz, but it was beat over the reader’s head so much that it got really old.

2) The writing was just bad.
The writing was what really got me. Like I said above, the author needs to work on showing, not telling. (A rough paraphrase of the writer’s attempt at showing: “the huge room was filled with big jars…”) Also, cliches, which I will explain below. The whole book felt like a first draft that was written during NaNoWriMo. It was way too long and included a lot of meaningless portions. There was a romance that was forced and unnecessary. There was a character whose sole purpose was to make the MC jealous. Even though there was always something happening, there was no rhyme or reason, like the author just said, “Today, I think I’ll throw in a maze–it won’t serve the plot in any way, but it will be an extra 20 pages.” Also, it fell into that the-MC-is-not-told-anything realm in order to create suspense for the reader even though there is no reason why the MC shouldn’t know everything.

3) The whole thing was unoriginal.
Okay, so this was a retelling. Fine, okay–even though I think Oz retellings have been a bit overdone, this one was fairly different, enough so that I got on board with it. But concept aside, everything that this book included had been done before. This happened on a micro level, with cliche phrases like, “People go into those mountains and they never come back,” and weak similes, and on a macro level, like stealing quotes and concepts from movies, like this line which is almost word-for-word from the movie X2: “…I should never travel without clearly visualizing my destination, otherwise I was liable to end up teleporting myself into the middle of a brick wall.” There was also the seemingly unimportant maze, which was “a living thing” and changed, which was just like the maze in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There was the plot-timeout-while-MC-learns-magic-and-combat which we see in books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but this one slowed down the plot even though Amy seemed to go from not being able to create a spark of magic to being all powerful in like, a week. Honestly, I think the author took The Wizard of Oz and decided to make it into Alice in Wonderland without trying to put any effort into it. I felt like I had read about 80% of this book before, and the rest was glued together by weak and cliche description.

Dorothy and Alice Art Print by Helen Green | Society6

4) The story contradicted itself.
I can pinpoint at least three instances where this happened. First, we’re told that Nox is the most skilled fighter in the Order, but then we are later told that the most skilled fighter is Melindra. Second, on page 387, Amy is talking to a character and is surprised that they know who Mombi is, even though the two of them had talked about Mombi by name in their last conversation on page 305! Also, in one instance, a character’s voice is changed when they alter their appearance, but this does not happen to another character, when their voice is essential for the plot. There were little inconsistencies like this throughout the entire book and it. drove. me. mad.

And at this point, you will try to quote Whitman at me:

song of myself <3 (but with the parentheses and a different font)

And although this book was large, IT DID NOT CONTAIN MULTITUDES. It was not complex. It was not an iceberg, with more lurking beneath the surface. It was nauseatingly simple and bland.

5) The back of the book lied to me.
The mission that is outlined on the back cover is not the actual mission that takes place in this book. It’s not even mentioned until the last few pages.

Book Reader's Heaven: We're Definitely Not in Kansas Anymore--Dorothy Must Die! Dark YA Fantasy...

It started off really strong, you guys. It did. But then it quickly plummeted. It briefly picked up again about twice throughout the story, but dropped off again each time.

That said, the concept was great. It was a sinister retelling of Oz where Good is Wicked and Wicked is Good. There were some really gross, dark parts that I completely loved and that were handled fairly well. But overall, the concept was ruined by poor execution.

I will not be reading the sequel.

Reading Next: (most likely) Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

currently listening to: Caught by Florence + The Machine

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