I am a big fan of the Wizard of Oz and I was told that I would never look at the movie the same way again so I was pretty apprehensive about reading this book but it was wonderful. I knew once I finished it that there were going to be very mixed reviews about this book. It is a book that you will either love (like me) or loathe (like so many others). It is complex and a bit pretentious and the language is very elaborate but the story is wonderful, especially if you pay attention. It is not a quick easy read and it is not a light fluffy tale. It is deep and complex and satirical.
Gregory Maguire does a great job of weaving the original Wizard of Oz in to a beautifully blended new fantasy tale. It's easy to get lost in the new reality he creates. The Wicked Witch finally has a name - Elphaba and she has a history in Oz, with Galinda the Good Witch, with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Wizard so by the time Dorothy arrives in Oz in the Wizard of Oz she just gets caught up in ongoing saga. I've seen other reviews where people are left with questions about why Elphaba is green or why she has an aversion to water and I'm surprised. If you are left with questions you need to pay closer attention.
I have read the book four or five times and I'v seen the Broadway show twice. The show is incredible. I can understand the opinion that the show is better than the book. The show is incredible bu the book is amazing in it's own right. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Wicked and it now sits on my shelf as an all-time favorite. That being said, I am a big fan of Gregory Maguire anyway. I also loved Mirror, Mirror and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I enjoy his work very much.