Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 31 & 32 - 2014

Book 31: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Wicked is my favourite musical ever (it was also the first one I saw). In 2009, I was in London, and in organizing to visit a friend who lived there, she suggested we go see a show (she was a budding actress). I agreed, and with our choice between Wicked and Billy Elliott, we decided to go with Wicked, despite knowing little about it. We missed the first two minutes, and I nearly fell down the stairs at Apollo Victoria, but we got there in the end, and we absolutely fell in love with the story, the music, everything. I’ve since seen Wicked four times (London, Sydney, Brisbane, New York) and I’ve been backstage in New York after my Mum met a stage hand at Starbucks who offered to give us a tour (best day ever!). That being said, whilst I bought the Wicked book the day after that first viewing, I have never got around to reading it. I finally decided this year that I should.
The first thing I must say is that the book is very different from the stage show, though I had been told this and I expected it. You must go into it with this mindset because if you go in expecting the musical, you’ll be disappointed. Elphaba, the ‘Wicked’ witch of the west, is less misunderstood vigilante, and more reclusive anarchist. Fiyero is less swaggering vagabond and more enamoured, wayward Prince. Glinda’s evolution from dotty to sympathetic is much faster, but she lacks a little of the gumption she has in the musical. The story still centres around the idea of Animal rights, but it meanders more, with less of a clear plot, and a less direct link to the original story. I felt myself feeling both more sympathetic for Elphaba and more frustrated with her. There is a sweetness she lacks in this book form, but overall, I still liked (or maybe appreciate is a better word) her, and I still enjoyed the story. I think ultimately I came away with a new appreciation for the idea behind this retelling, even though the musical will always be my preferred rendering of the story. Maguire is trying to make more of a point with this book, something that doesn’t doesn’t quite make it into the musical. It’s a long, sometimes dragging read, but its an interesting rendering of a much maligned character, and personally, never having been a fan of the Wizard of Oz, I’ll take this version any day of the week.

31 / 50 books. 62% done!

11016 / 15000 pages. 73% done!

Book 32: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the "un"lucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.

I love the idea of aliens on Earth even though I don’t believe such a thing has happened. My novel series that I am writing is based on this idea, and whilst I prefer a ‘nice’ invasion, if such a thing exists, I appreciate that fiction of this genre prefers the idea that the invasion is cruel and unkind and requires humanity to band together. There are elements of this concept in this book, and then another very clever, subterfuge style concept looking at a couple of ideas around how aliens could effectively force us into killing each other. Cassie is alone and trying to track down her brother. Earth has been attacked in waves by aliens who seem intent on wiping humanity off the planet. Cassie’s little brother and a boy she went to school with, Ben, are in a government training camp where they learn how to fight the aliens. Or at least, that’s what each of them thinks. Yancey tells two stories side by side, Cassie’s and Ben’s. Each have demons to work through, each have questions about their current situation that they are scared of. For Cassie, her big question is around Evan Walker, a boy who saves her life, but who maybe also put her in the situation she’s in in the first place. For Ben, his questions are around the truth of the government training facility and their purpose. Each are motivated by Sammy, Cassie’s little brother who ends up in Ben’s team at the training facility. This is a good start to the series, and I’m looking forward to the next one. There are Twilight elements, but it manages to veer more to the Hunger Games side of the young-adult lit genre most of the time. Worth a look if you’re into teen sci-fi dystopia.

32 / 50 books. 64% done!

11473 / 15000 pages. 76% done!

Currently reading:
-        Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton – 596 pages
-        Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs – 331 pages
-        The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East by Kishore Mahbubani – 293 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: dystopia, fairy tales, romance, sci-fi, teen lit, war, young adult

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