So I originally gave this book a four and half and then I read through my review and realized that I was being way too generous and gave this book a three. There were just too many things that I had issues with for me to comfortable give this book a four and half star rating.
So I think the main reason why I liked this book so much is the fact I just finished reading the Oz books #1-4 and wondered by about book #3 was I the only one realizing that Oz was super messed up and why the heck anyone followed any of this nincompoops since none of them had the intelligence of a nit.
Ms. Paige takes the Oz story and turns it on it's head by still having some of the same events that readers know about (Dorothy's house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy defeats the Wicked Witch of the West) and having a different outcome to what became of Oz.
The main character, Amy, comes to Oz via a tornado and finds out that the story she grew up hearing was real, though now Dorothy seems to be ruling Oz with an iron scepter and the Oz of fairy-tales has turned into a horrible nightmare place. Amy runs into some characters and slowly comes to realize that people like Glinda, the Lion, the Scarecrow, the Tin-Man, and even Dorothy are now warped versions of themselves who are hell-bent on crushing any dissent in Oz and draining it of magic.
I think I got a bit tired of Amy's woe is me routine about halfway through the book. Maybe it's because there were serious things happening to other characters in this book that Amy meets that she would feel pained for, but still would circle it back to how hard her life had been done by her mother. Amy's mother may have ignored her, stolen money, and not very functioning, however, I had a lot of trouble garnering sympathy for her when she was meeting people whose entire families were wiped out by Dorothy and company. I wanted to yell perspective at Amy again and again.
Other characters we come across in this book will be familiar to Oz readers if they read the books, such as Princess Ozma, Mombi, The Wizard, etc. We also get some characters such as Glamora and Nox. No one was very fleshed out at all. There were just so many riddles by so many people that I would have probably told everyone to see to their own issues and try to leave Oz. No one can be trusted and that seems to be the main point of this book. Amy can trust no one. If you can't tell who the bad guys are I don't know how Amy or the reader can know if Amy is in the right or not. Ms. Paige does play a bit with that without wicked (evil) there can be no good which could be another reason why Oz is out of whack.
The main plot of this book is about Amy being recruited by the Order of the Wicked which main purpose is to make sure that Dorothy dies. The members of the Order keep talking about something must have brought Amy to Oz and decide they will train Amy to kill Dorothy because she (Amy) apparently is the chosen one.
I think one of my main issues with the plot of most young adult books is that often I find myself getting super impatient with the teenage leads. Maybe it's because the solution to a problem is pretty obvious that they keep overlooking or the character acts like a typical teenager and gets moony over some guy you don't give two craps about as a reader.
I felt badly for Amy since you find out she grew up poor and friendless with a mother who was knee deep in her own depression and troubles who stopped thinking about Amy. When the tornado comes part of Amy dreads it and embraces it since anything has to be to better than the non-existence she was currently dealing with.
Although Amy grows through her time in Oz, it was often one step forward in her emotional development and then she would take two steps back.
Amy gets obsessed with the character of Nox and I am just over girls liking moody boys that don't appear and really don't act as if they care about the female lead.
There was also a love triangle in this story that I would love if the author went there with it in the next story a bit more. Would make the one time that I liked a love triangle instead of rolling my eyes everytime one comes into play in these kind of books.
Additionally I would have liked it more if Amy's powers and where they came from had been explored more. The other characters kept hinting at stuff regarding Amy and I wish that had been more explicit how Amy came to Oz.
The writing I found to be okay though the pace was all over the place. There was way too much "stuff" in this first book. World building is good and you do need some exposition. However, after Amy's training montages the whole book just dragged beyond belief until I got to the end. There has to be a happy medium of crisp writing with enough world building to keep the reader intrigued, but to not bog down the story. I don't think that Ms. Paige did that well enough in book #1.
The setting of Oz I thought was used well at times since many of the places described where also settings in the Oz books. I guess overall the setting of Oz felt a little flat, though I would argue that Ms. Paige wanted it that way on purpose.
I will probably read The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2) but if it doesn't grab me I will probably pass on any further books in this series.