Reed Books: Dorothy Must Die


Jess Reed, Staff Writer

    Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is a twisted version of the classic tale, The Wizard of Oz. In this novel, teenage girl Amy lives with her mother in a trailer, trying to make the most of her less-than-perfect life. When a tornado hits their town in Kansas, Amy is swept up and dropped in Oz, only to find that Dorothy is ruling the land with an iron fist. With the help of a few other classic characters, Amy must defeat Dorothy and bring justice to Oz.

    While this novel has an interesting premise, the beginning is frustratingly dull. The action picks up as the pages turn, and fortunately, the actual adventure is strong and well-written. However, setting up the universe proves to be a struggle for Paige. When we meet Amy Gumm, it is through paragraphs of information dumping. We get the idea straight away that Amy is different, given her financial circumstances and her low self-esteem. Still, we aren’t allowed to figure this out by ourselves – the information is spoon fed to us. Amy is picked on by the classic popular girl, Madison, and has a crush on her football-star boyfriend. While these minor skirmishes fall away when Amy is swept off to Oz, it is frustrating to read about another cliche, trope-filled beginning. This often happens in young adult novels when the author is trying to connect to the reader, by amplifying the highs and lows of school and attempting to give the reader validation. However, this simply comes off as self-pity in Amy’s case; of course her life is difficult, but that’s all she thinks about. She feels sorry for herself in every situation. And while school bullies certainly exist, Madison’s role is played up. She fistfights Amy in the first two pages, and calls her “dumpster trash” behind her back. It is mentioned that a few years ago, she convinced everyone to skip Amy’s birthday party. It would be hard to find someone in the real world who is as unashamedly cruel as Madison for no reason.

    Still, the novel compensates with its actual adventure. The premise takes a page out of Wicked’s book, but still manages to be original. While a bit over-the-top with gore on occasion, the book is one that can easily find its way onto the shelves of young readers.

    Overall, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is a fun premise with well-written action, if lacking in the beginning and a bit cliche with the characters.