title: Dorothy Must Die
author: Danielle Paige
date: Harper, 2014
main character: Amy Gumm
young adult fiction
We all cheered for Dorothy to find the Wizard and make her way back home to Kansas. We loved Glinda’s sparkle and the shine of the yellow brick road, but sometimes too much ‘good’ just isn’t all that good. Sometimes, it’s quite wicked.
Another tornado in Kansas, another girl misplaced in Oz and we revisit the place only to wonder what in the world has happened. The munchkins, flying monkey and people of Oz were all once very happy with their lives but now, they’ve lost they joy and their freedoms. Can Amy figure this mess out? Which side does she choose when the only good advice she gets is to trust no one?
Dorothy Must Die is the first book in the series by Danielle Paige, an African American young adult author as well as a writer for television.
I like the steady pace Paige establishes in Dorothy Must Die. I like the time spent developing characters and their backstory, giving them important roles to play as the story unfolds. This first person narrative makes world building an integral part of the story with readers discovering how this new Oz works right along with main character, Amy Gumm. Her own backstory gives evidence to her poverty. Amy lacks most of the resources that would provide her access to success. She has no friends, her clothing is tattered and her single mother has a chemical dependency problem. Amy is empowered through her tenacity, intelligence, reliability and her magic. We’re going to be cheering for this underdog who is out to conquer Oz along with her mom’s pet rat, Star.
While Paige challenges many sources of power in this fantasy world, she leaves women as the source of magic and magic is the one true power in Oz. Many deep and penetrating questions arise in the book and I’m sure most young readers will want to follow Amy to find answers for her as well as for themselves. This girl is on a hero’s journey.
This is essentially a good vs. wicked story except that we really don’t know which side or which characters are good and which are evil. Amy struggles with decisions she has to make, important consequential decisions that tear at her sense of moral justice. She’s a strong girl this Amy who doesn’t act solely on her own self interest. The title makes it clear that Dorothy must die, but Amy really struggles with her part in this murderous act because she honors and values life. But, yeah. Dorothy must die.