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  • Wicked

  • The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
  • By: Gregory Maguire
  • Narrated by: John McDonough
  • Length: 19 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (259 ratings)

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Summary

Heralded as an instant classic of fantasy literature, Maguire has written a wonderfully imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. More than just a fairy tale for adults, Wicked is a meditation on the nature of good and evil.

Elphaba is born with green skin, a precocious mind, and a talent for magic. An outcast throughout her childhood in Munchkinland, she finally begins to feel as though she fits in when she enters the University in the Emerald City. While she hones her skills, she discovers that Oz isn't the Utopia it seems. She sets out to protect its unwanted creatures, becoming known as the Wicked Witch along the way.

Narrator John McDonough draws you in to Maguire's magical world of witches and talking animals, making it possible to believe in a land somewhere over the rainbow.

©1995 Gregory Maguire (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic reviews

"A staggering feat of wordcraft." ( Los Angeles Times)
"McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny, Glinda's snobbish friends, and the wide-eyed, soft-spoken Dorothy make this excursion to Oz worthwhile." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Wicked

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great story, dull presentation

Struggle to finish this amazing story as the reader was dull and monotone. Let down

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

A fantastic retelling of the life of Elpheba the wicked witch of the west in Baum's world of Oz. Detailed and rich this is evocative and draws you in instantly. A great reading too.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great audiobook

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I've always loved the book Wicked, and listening to it as an audiobook was a new experience entirely. I would recommend this to a friend as it really makes the story come alive.

What other book might you compare Wicked to, and why?

I don't think you can really compare Wicked to anything - it's a reworking of The Wizard of Oz, making a child's story into an adult novel.

What about John McDonough’s performance did you like?

The narrators pacing was very good, and he got the humor of the book well - be prepared for a few snorts of laughter when listening! There were lots of characters who's voices he managed to make individual and memorable, so you can recognise them.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The ending of course is memorable, and with the narrators pacing he manages to make it moving.

Any additional comments?

I had already read Wicked before listening to the audiobook, and I would definatly recommend it! It really brings the book to life.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Hard Going

I found this audiobook really hard going and it turned into more of a chore than a pleasure, i found that the story was really hard to keep track off at places moving to quickly and at others dragging out. Overall I didn't really enjoy this book and wouldn't recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Keep listening

This book starts off quite weird and you have to keep ploughing through, until you get to the good part. Im not sure I would have pursued it if i hadnt have seen the play and knew the story line. - its a prequel to the wizard of oz. That in itself was enough to keep me listening. How the wicked witch became wicked

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it

I couldn’t stop listening fans of the musical will love this book can’t wait to start the next in the series

1 person found this helpful

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I hated all the characters.

All the characters were vile. the mother walks around with her boobs out trying to get laid constantly whilst high on drugs...characters should have some redeeming qualities but after 7 chapters I still hated them all. vile book!

1 person found this helpful

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ooooooh!

Extremely well read. Nice to listen to. A great story. tough to start, but in the middle now and can't put it down and look forward to it every night!

1 person found this helpful

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A stumbling mess with no point

The story is only told from the point of view of someone close to the witch. The witch isn't very relatable and nobody in the book ever does anything interesting.
There is some nice dystopian world building but it never leads anywhere.

1 person found this helpful

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This book didn't "defy gravity"

I came to this book having seen the west end musical, and loving the "untold story". This book didn't live up to any expectations, taking unnecessary detours into derogatory stories of Elphaba's mother and at best is a dark story, but in my view - the book is horrendous ramblings which disappoints further with each chapter.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • PangaeaReads
  • 30-07-08

It's not easy being green

From reading the reviews, this looks like a book that few are lukewarm about. Listeners either really loved it or really hated it! I'm of the group who loved it. And I feel compelled to say so after writing a negative review of the disappointing sequel Son of a Witch. I didn't truly appreciate John McDonough's excellent narration until listening to the author narrate the sequel. No comparison.

I'll admit that I didn't take to the story right away. It took about an hour. But a person driving a long distance is a captive audience and by the time Elphaba got to Shiz I was hooked. It's an odd story that takes place in an odd place and is certainly not for everyone. But it was for me.

92 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kamal
  • 24-01-06

A long slide into inevitability...

A fresh concept - take a common childhood tale, and tell the story behind the story. Talk about the motivations and the story behind some of the non-core characters, and best of all, turn the concepts of good and evil upside down.

Wicked starts off well enough, with the birth of the Wicked Witch of the West to an ordinary enough family, with a bored, unfaithful heiress as a mother, and a stiff boore of a minister as a father. The story quickly deviates from the expected with its exploration of adult themes, ribald humour, and extensive political commentary.

Oz loses much of its magic, with the magic made mundane through its commonality and ultimate futility - in fact, magic doesn't play much of a role at all in the book.

<spoiler warning>
However, as the book starts to move towards the familiar plotline of the Wizard of Oz, there is a feeling of events rushing headlong to inevitability. The reckless, but lovable character of Elpheba (the witch) strangely disappears, to be replaced by an almost characterless stereotype. Many lovingly developed characters, such as Glinda and Fiuro, are essentially tossed into the trashbin.

Ultimately, the story leaves us wondering still about the motivations of some of the characters, so fails as an expose of these events. It definitely left me scratching my head at the unresolved plot points.

Also, there is a common theme of homosexual tension throughout the book, which felt artificially inserted unnecessarily. I certainly understood the context, but it just didn't seem to make sense.

A good read, but disappointing in the end.

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tryshch
  • 28-11-05

VERY adult

I got this book because I love the Broadway version. I was very surprised at the extent of the "foul" language... I was quite surprised, because he has such a great vocabulary. I would have expected more creativity in the "bad" words. Many explicit and suggestive scenes in the story, making for some interesting sub-texts. I did enjoy the thorough was the characters were developed, although some parts did seem excessively long. The narrator was very good and didn't get in the way of the story as some narrators do.

61 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzn F
  • 19-12-11

I was not sure for a while then.......

Yes, I'm taken with this novel. Humor, intrigue, and overall a good story. It's not the type of book I'm typically drawn to, but this time I'm glad I was.

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tracee
  • 31-01-06

Great reading, okay book...

I'd heard so much about the book, I'd built up wonderful expectations for it. I did enjoy the listen, but I am quite disappointed in the novel overall.

First, I have to say the narrator was absolutely wonderful. The quality of voice and character was delightful, and I never tired of hearing him.

The story captivated me for about the first 2/3 and then started losing focus and the characters seemed to tumble out of control. By the end, I had absolutely no idea what the point had been. I had fallen in absolute love with Elphaba, and felt that her character was completely abandoned by the author in the last act. Some of the character turns were unpleasant, but necessary; others seem completely random and confusing.

Plot devices were introduced in the beginning, and then abandoned until the absolute end, when they addressed in a peculiarly obscure fashion, answering virtually none of the questions that were the basis of the story.

Since I have already purchased "Son of a Witch", I can only hope that the questions left unanswered are addressed there, and that its characters are treated with more care.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim
  • 30-11-05

No good.

I was expecting a story something along the lines of an Oz fairy tale. Instead, this book was long, boring and just seemed to wander around without a point. It is an adult story, not for the kids. Really heavy handed with half-formed philisophical babble that didn't seem to have much to do with the story. Some of the characters seemed to have a reason to be in the book, but many of them were shallow and didn't have much to do with the plot. I kept waiting for something to happen, trying to figure out when things were going to pick up, but they never did. I can't believe this book was so popular.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nina
  • 12-11-08

Sometimes Hard Listening, but I Couldn't Stop

I found Wicked facinating. The author managed to make Oz a complex land. The narrator was terrific - can't imagine the book being read by anyone else. However, I didn't care for the sexual content. It was sometimes perverted, but never graphic. Saw no reason for some of the sexual references & scenes. ALso, I wish that characters had been better developed.

The book as a whole was disturbing. It was occassionally funny and often depressing. I wasn't expecting a "FUN!" read, but some of the brutal things that happened were over the top from my POV. Overall, this was a good & highly imaginative book, and I recommend it with reservations.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzanne Jackels
  • 15-03-09

A Wicked Delight!

I've been a Wizard of Oz fan for far too many years to count, and a couple of years ago had the opportunity to enjoy Wicked on the London stage. I was very excited to find the audiobook here on Audible, as it goes into so much more rich detail than could ever be delivered in the stage version. Don't get me wrong, both were awesome, but the audiobook just delivered so much more and kept me enthralled for hours at a time. I literally could not wait to listen to more!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeri
  • 02-10-08

Fabulous!

This book had a profound effect on me. I will never be able to think of The Wizard of Oz, especially the wicked witch, in the same way. My heart goes out to Elphaba.

Wicked is wonderfully written and the narration excellent. I found myself eager to get back to it whenever I had to stop. This reimagined story is so much more believable than any other I have come across. It is well worth the time. And I would listen to it again.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol
  • 01-12-05

Pure Magic!

Maguire fills in all the blanks, answers all the questions, and steps up to the plate for all those who wanted to know all of the "why's" to all those unanswered questions in The Wizard of Oz. Maguire skillfully winds the tale of yellow brick road making it difficult to do anything but focus 110% of this skillfully written tale.
Contrary to one recent review, this is a tale that NO ONE should skip the opportunity to read and become thoroughly immersed.

22 people found this helpful