After practically taking the whole of 2021 from reading the book club’s reads, I decided to try and read along with January’s (2022) pick, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.
I remember seeing this book on the shelves back when it first came out, but I never thought of reading it – it wasn’t what I was into at the time. To some extent I feel like I still wouldn’t have read it if it hadn’t been a club pick, but now that I have I’m glad I did.
Amy Gumm hates her life. At school she is bullied by the popular girls and at home she has to put up with her irresponsible mother.
But when a tornado swoops up her home from the trailer park and drops her in Oz, Amy wants nothing more than to go back to her old life. Especially after she finds out Oz is not at all like what she imagined. Worse still, if she hopes to stay alive long enough to find a way home she must join the resistance who’s main goal is to kill Dorothy and they want to train her to do it.
– My Review –
I go back and forth on this book so much.
There are moments where I hate it, moments where I hate it even more, and moments where I actually kind of like it.
Dorothy Must Die is very much like other books from the 2010s’ in that it follows a similar formula to other books from that time. It’s edgy, the pacing is quick and choppy, and the protagonist is a teenage social outcast with a sarcastic attitude. Not to mention the book falls in the fairy tale twisted/dark retelling category that was at its height in the 2010’s (from what I remember).
These similarities/cliches/tropes are not what is inherently wrong with the book. If you’ve been reading long enough, you even start to develop a liking towards certain tropes and cliches.
For me actually, the biggest thing that just drags the book down and closer to the dull reads side of the spectrum, is how overall dry it is. One of the things that constantly nagged at me as I read, was just how little the author makes you care about the characters.
Not to spoil important parts of the book, but there are quite a few character deaths. And, of the character deaths there is really only one that is actually impactful to the story and makes you feel something. With some of the other character deaths, you can see where the author is going, what she is trying to accomplish, but said characters are killed off to soon after being introduced that there is no chance to develop any connection towards them whatsoever.
Another thing that just doesn’t work for the story is how much it has going on. Less is more, less is more, less is more.
The exposition info dumping is to be expected, most fantasy books have it to some extent, but with Dorothy Must Die it still felt like info dumping more than halfway through the novel.
At 427 pages, the book just feels like it drags on forever. Now I do not mind a lengthy book, lengthy books are welcomed. But, when the book is lengthy and nothing really happened by the end of it, that’s where the length of the book starts to become a bit bothersome. The progress Amy makes, if you can even call it that, leaves her right back at square one.
Had the story had more focus, I feel like the ending wouldn’t have felt so lackluster and it wouldn’t have mattered that the main character essentially ended up right back where she started. Which just comes back to what I was saying earlier about how the book has too much going on.
Anyhow, as always, I want to end on a positive note.
For starters I want to just say that the concept of the book alone really drew me in. At some point I even felt like it really was an extension of The Wizard of Oz plot. Like I see it happening in the cannon of the fairy tale (but maybe that’s just because I only know the bare minimum about The Wizard of Oz).
Dorothy Must Die is definitely worth a read. If not a read, then at least a listen – I myself got through most of the book using audiobook. It wasn’t the worst audiobook experience but I’ve listened to better narration.
While I don’t love the book, I did enjoy reading it. At the end of the day Danielle Page did a great job writing a compelling story. She really left me wondering “what happens next” so I just know that at some point I am going to read the next book in the series.
That said, when it comes to Dorothy Must Die I can’t go any higher than a two star rating. Typically on my star rating scale I rate average reads at three stars but like I mentioned before, it was little things here and there that drag this book down.
As far as recommendations go, I think fans of fairy tale retellings would enjoy this book. The whole “good guy” is now the villain trope is one of my favorites so if you like that definitely check this book out. I also think the Young Adult audience would really enjoy this book because I just know teenage me definitely would have (more than adult me did at least).
Yeah it very much had Once Upon a Time vibes, which I was a big fan of the show so I feel like if you liked the show definitely give this book a try.