Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

I finally finished Out of Oz, man it took a long time. For no good reason necessarily, but well, there we are. These are my thoughts.
This is the last book in the Wicked Years tetralogy. It concludes the story of the Oz that Gregory Maguire has written. The books are obviously based on the story of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and they feature some of the characters from Baum’s books. In this book Rain, the daughter of Liir, granddaughter of Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), is sort of the focus. A lot of other stuff is going on, but Rain is the main thing. The country of Oz is in the verge of war with Munchkinland, Dorothy Gale is back, and Glinda is under house arrest. Liir and Candle are looking for their daughter and Rain is just trying to cope with being Rain.

I’ve always loved how dark and honest Maguire’s Wicked books are. Because they are based on children’s books, and while I haven’t read them I assume there’s less violence and sex in them. His world building is pretty strong, the intrigue and the war and the creepiness. In Oz there are Animals that can talk and the books deal with how they interact with humans, and there’s a sort of class war where Animals are seen as inferior and they’re used and they don’t really have any agency to fight back. I found it really interesting, to see how they interacted, and how humans insist on subjugating anything they can think of.

Something else I found interesting is how he depicts power, because wow. So in this book Shell Thropp is Throne Minister of Oz. Shell is the brother of the Wicked Witches of East and West, and the uncle of Liir. And Throne Minister is basically a King/Prime Minister. He’s gone sort of loopy with power, and is referred to as His Sacredness. So that’s not weird at all. He just starts this weird war for no good reason. He is completely corrupted by power, and it has sort of pushed him into madness, and it’s a bit sad that a whole generation of Thropps meet such sad fates, apparently, because there is a plot twist, that, wow. No spoilers, be good.

I like how Rain grows without becoming completely different. She starts off as this very closed off, lonely kid. She has been sort of abandoned. She doesn’t really connect very well with other people, people she is related to, or other people for that matter. And when she meets her parents she seems to, rightfully, resent them, and she doesn’t know if she can forgive them. And while she grows and she learns to cope with how she grew up, she learns to connect and love, and I loved that. And when her heartbreak comes along it hurts so much more. It feels like she’s lost a lot, and gained a lot, and then someone punches her in the stomach and laughs at her. Metaphorically.

I loved the ending, and hated it. It’s open ended, and there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t wrap up, which I sort of like, I like that there are things you don’t know. On the other hand I always want to know exactly what happened. Because you know, where do they end up? So while I like that I can imagine things, I also want to know what Gregory Maguire thought happened to his characters, or Baum’s characters. I really want to know what happened to Dorothy. Because oh my GOD! I want to know what the plot twist means, the plot twist that I desperately want to talk about, but I need to know! Also I can’t find Gregory Maguire on the Internets so I can’t hound him. Probably for the best, let’s be honest.

I like how honest the book feels and how they all have flaws and humanity, and it makes them more complex and interesting, and… real, I guess. For instance Liir, he was completely neglected by Elphaba, she just seemed to see him as an afterthought. And he then went through a lot of crappiness, and he is injured and alone, and basically raped by Candle. And he feels like he can’t properly protect his child unless he changes her and gives her away, and it breaks his heart. And the fact that he wants to give up, because suddenly it is just too much. I don’t know, it just felt really human and believable and I love Maguire for making sort of “real” characters even though it’s set in a fairy tale world. Because he has been through so much, so why would he keep fighting? How would he have the strength? It seems like he would crumble at some point. And it feels like Candle was too hard on him, but I also completely get her position. Although she also runs away so what right has she to judge? Yes, I am judge-y. I want to discuss this with someone. Someone I can talk about the plot twist with, please. It is driving me crazy.

I love Dorothy. She is just amazing. She is so ditzy and weird and sweet, and she tries so hard to be helpful. She’s also trying very hard to become “normal.” Like the kids in the Narnia books she has become a bit obsessed with this world she was in and she can’t let it go and she can’t see the world she has been sent back to, as the world it is. She can’t make herself sort of appreciate it I guess, because how could it compare to Oz? She becomes a bit disillusioned with Oz when she comes back and is on trial for murder, and she actually wants to go home to find her aunt and uncle and be home. It’s a bit like she’s grown up essentially, like she’s Susan in the Narnia books. I have a gripe about Susan, but let’s not get into that. Anyway, Dorothy is so sweet, and weird and I love her.

I don’t know that this is a review, so much as my own descent into madness. This is how I am.

Final thoughts:

I really liked it. I thought it was an amazing conclusion to the story. I thought it was beautiful, there’s so much I love, that I haven’t mentioned, but this would go on forever. I loved it.