Oz. The mere mention of the name can conjure up images of roads of yellow brick cutting through landscapes of oversaturated colors (and, we imagine, scents), towards the Emerald City. For more than a century, children and adults alike have cherished L. Frank Baum’s original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 34 sequels (13 written by Baum, and the remaining 21 written by Ruth Plumly Thompson after his death). For first-time author Danielle Paige, the books are a jumping-off point for her all-new interpretation in the YA novel Dorothy Must Die.
Sixteen-year-old Amy Gumm’s life is less than perfect. Her parents are divorced, and her father has remarried and started a new family. Her mother was in a debilitating automobile accident and is now addicted to pain killers and the booze she uses to wash them down. As a result of their tight financial situation, Amy is known as “Salvation Amy” at school, where she is neither popular nor an academic achiever. She dreams of the day when she can leave her school, her substance-abusing mom, and the entire state of Kansas behind, and make a better life for herself. What she never imagined was being left home, alone (except for her mom’s pet rat Star) in the mobile home she and her mom share, watching as her mom drives away in one direction while a tornado bears down from another.
After a turbulent ride in a tornado-borne trailer, Amy awakens in Oz! But it is not the Oz she remembers from the books and movie. It is duller, less vibrant, desolate and dangerous. Oz’s inhabitants are suspicious and fearful; few will actually speak to Amy, let alone help her, and no one is who they seem to be. The “good” witches can no longer be trusted. The “wicked” witches seem to be working to save the innocent. But they all are convinced of one thing: Amy, as the other girl from Kansas to arrive on a tornado, is Oz’s only chance to be restored!
Dorothy Must Die is an enjoyable and intriguing trip over the rainbow; it is the first of a planned series.
Reviewed by reference librarian Daryl M.