“Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige: YA Book Review
What’s the Big Deal?
Praised by well-known critics such as USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Huffington Post, and Teen Vogue, Danielle Paige’s four-book series is a smash hit in the fairy tale world. Based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Paige takes the “no-place-like-home” classic and warps it into a murder mania, with Dorothy as a bloodthirsty tyrant and her companions the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion by her side to torture, eat, and pick off her enemies one by one. This new Oz is probably a total walk in the park! ....Right?
Bullied, shunned, and suspended from school, “trailer-trash” Amy Gumm is a chick who’s tired of being made fun of by her schoolmates and brutally ignored by her substance-abusing mother. She’s ready to ditch her life in Dusty Acres, ready to catch the nearest bus and ride to anywhere but where she is—and then a tornado comes, and suddenly the job’s done for her.
Amy winds up in—you guessed it—the wonderful world of Oz. The first person she meets there is Pete, a mysterious emerald-eyed boy who saves her, literally, from the precipice of certain death (she and her trailer landed on the edge of a canyon). Pete then disappears, leaving Amy alone, so she decides to heed the advice he gave and follows the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City.
Unfortunately, Amy winds up getting into some trouble along the way. Unable to run, she finds herself face to face with the famous Dorothy Gale—that is, if Dorothy was an evil, party-obsessed dictator who dressed like the Kardashians. Try as she might, Amy just can’t convince Dorothy that she means no harm, and she winds up in the miserable royal dungeons with a decree that she’ll be executed at sunrise.
In her hour of need, though, a savior arrives. Not exactly a fairy godmother, but since she has no other choices, Mombi the witch has to do. Mombi tells Amy that she can save her—for a price. All Amy has to do is join the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a secret organization devoted to the demise of Dorothy. She agrees, and thus begins Amy’s new life of training, fighting, and even love in the time of war.
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: YA, fantasy fiction
Ratings: 3.8/5 Goodreads, 4.2/5 Barnes & Noble
Release Date: April 1, 2014
To Read or Not to Read?
I recommend this book if:
• You enjoy fairy tales or classic stories with twists, such as Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, or ABC’s tv series Once Upon a Time
• You can appreciate a largely woman-written world, with tough characters like Amy and the witches, characters you’ll instantly hate like Madison and Amy’s mom, and characters that have been horrendously but thrillingly re-written like Dorothy and Glinda the “Good” witch
• You enjoy a story where the main character is repeatedly shot down and hurt, but stands up for herself and persists regardless
• You like plots filled with something for everyone: action, combat, espionage, secrets, and even love
• You’re ready for an unconventional series where the good guys just might prevail in the end.
“I hate to break it to you, but just because someone has pretty hair and a good skin tone and a crown instead of a pointy hat doesn’t mean she’s not the baddest bitch this side of the emerald city.”
“Dorothy Must Die is an extremely imaginative take on the classic children's story The Wizard of Oz. Once Amy steps into Oz, readers immediately see the Oz they know from the original book series and 1939 movie, then a new darker, twisted version emerges. There are monsters, swearing munchkins, an evil Dorothy, wizards and witches, talking animals, and more. It's a fast-paced, exciting tale.” —Common Sense Media
“Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.” —Kirkus Reviews
Personally, I think that Dorothy Must Die is a must-read. I fell in love with Amy’s sarcasm and quips immediately, and the dialogue in the book is a total delight. Dorothy is more than just a tyrant, too—she’s also fun to read because she’s whiny, immature, narcissistic, and doesn’t know how to do anything without the help of magic or servants. How often do you get an evil dictator who cares more about the state of her nails than her kingdom?
I’ve read the series three times, and each time it was just as worth it as the last (even though my books are now practically in tatters!). Dorothy Must Die is funny, action-packed, and unique, and it’s a great way to reimagine an already much-loved story.
If you’re interested, you can buy the book here.