by Danielle Paige
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In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestsellingDorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.
To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die...
But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?
When you claim your name, what will it be?
I think there’s a certain standard in which second books are expected to live up to. In no way is it fair, because, especially with me, the first book in a series is always leagues above the rest-it’s just the way it is. When I fall in love with a series, it’s no light thing. I become obsessed and nothing is likely to please me any time soon. That being said-I have high standards. After devouring a 100% 5 star book, I want the same superiority of action and angst in book two. Sadly, though, this rarely happens. And I’m just going to come right out and say it: Compared to book one-a now absolute favorite of mine-this book paled in comparison.
Some people spend their whole lives searching for the one thing that they can do to say, I changed the world. I had found that thing. I might not be able to accomplish it, but I was going to die trying. So call me selfish.
Second books aren’t all bad, though. They get a bad rap, sure, but there are many good things that come from them, as well. Sometimes it’s the opposite, actually. There have been a few times when the second book by far outshines its predecessor and makes up for boring build-ups with no results. In this case, though, I definitely was missing….something. And while that’s not always a problem, it was in this case-for me.
It was frustrating that everyone was so convinced that I had this great potential to be evil, when all I’d done was show up, get thrown in the dungeon by Dorothy, and then follow the Order’s instructions pretty much exactly. I’d fought for what I thought was right. For what I believed in. And now even people like Lulu-people who were supposed to be on the same side as me-seemed suspicious of me because of it. It all felt a little unfair.
One: The action. My God I missed the action. There was plenty, I suppose, but the level of intensity was severely lacking based on what I know this author can do. For example, in book one, not every scene was full of fights and battles, but there was just this level of dread with each passing chapter that brought forth a sense of doom and foreboding that made you feel as though something terrible could happen at any minute….whereas in this story it was all build up. It was book two hell, if I’m being honest. With all that foreboding and dread in book one, when a battle scene would actually happen it was like when you poke a hole in a balloon-it was as though this pressure that had been pressing down on your chest was finally released and you could just breathe, because it had finally happened. But it was so intense that you didn’t care if you were breathing at all, anyway, because wasn’t this exactly what you’d been waiting for? It was the sweetest of evils. In this book, while the action scenes were epic in their own right, they were few and far between and I almost felt….sad….when they happened because I knew there wasn’t much left of the book….and I never felt my breath release like I wanted. Which brings me to my next point.
I may not have known how I was doing it, but every time I rose back up, reshaping myself into my own form, I knew what I was doing when I was under there. I was touching the darkness.
Two: The length. Talk about wanting to cry…I almost started bawling-no joke-when I saw how short this book was. It was barely even (if at all) half the length of the first book. And the first book was The perfect length, by the way. It was perfect because of how wonderfully paced everything was-every little part had ample time to unwind, to grow, to pull you deeper-you never wanted to stop reading. Never once did it feel rushed, overdone, drawn out, NOTHING. I fell hard and I fell fast and I fell deeper under it’s spell-I STILL think about book one and my heart STILL goes into overdrive as my stomach simultaneously drops out of the bottom of me. This is the biggest downfall for book two, I have to say. The chapters were way too short. You would just start to get into a scene and then it would be over and we would have to move on. There were times where it was nicely paced, but most of the time it didn’t feel…quite right….which was shocking to me after seeing how amazing book one’s pacing was. And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m pretty bitter about the length of this book. I love this author, this series, for life, but I feel cheated. I was ecstatic to pick up book two, only to find out that we were getting such a short story. And I know I know, this is a bridge book for the final story…but never has a book felt like a literal bridge before-because this is exactly what this is-bridging to the fanatical last story (I will be a happy little lark when book three comes out, but, for now, let me just pout).
Despite what I’d said to Dorothy’s Fantasm in the Fog of Doubt, and as wicked as I knew I could be when I had to, I had one weakness: kindness.
And kindness is a weakness. I can see that now. But it’s a weakness I’m still not sure I’d want to give up entirely.
Three: The World Building. I didn’t think I’d ever say this in a review because I really could give two shits less but…..I wanted more. I don’t know what but…more. It was great, it was wonderful but..yeah. That’s all.
All over the place, when you looked a little more closely, traces of the city’s former grandeur remained. Amidst all the wreckage, the streets had a sheen that I realized was coming from millions of scattered jewels-emeralds, obviously, but diamonds and rubies and amethysts, too. Here and there, pools of gold melted and then hardened again, like puddles lingering after a thunderstorm.
Four: The romance. Believe me when I wholeheartedly say-I LIVE FOR NOX AND AMY’S RELATIONSHIP. I ship them so hard-Especially Nox. He is just…ugh. But that’s why this is [partially] in the negative category. I wanted more. There-I SAID IT. I really, truly, wholeheartedly, needed more. I craved it, I ached for it, and when it finally was within in my clutches, it felt like it was over too soon. See reason two above-I am still a pissy pink elephant about this. Every little bit of the romance was perfection. Well…or Nox was. But I think I’m going to put him in his own little category….just because I can. My point? The romance, while exactly what I wanted, inexplicably Just. Wasn’t. Enough.
It was like I was entering a world of shadows. I wasn’t sure how I was doing it, and I wasn’t sure where I was going when I disappeared like that-only that wherever it was, it was cold and foreign and deadly silent. From down there, everything was hazy and slow-motion, and I was outside reality, looking up into it from the darkness like gazing up through a layer of black, muddy water.
So, as you can see, while I love this story, it had detrimental issues that stunted my enjoyment. And isn’t that the best way to describe a short story? Choppy, stunted, without the growth I so desperately needed? But here comes my favorite part: The GOOD.
Once upon a time a girl named Amy Gumm had come to Oz on a tornado. She had fought hard; she had been loyal and fierce. She had done things she’d never in a million years imagined that she would.
One: Amy. Amy might possibly be my favorite heroine ever-at the moment. I think this second book sold her a little short, if I’m being completely honest, but I can’t forget how epic she was in the first….and how epic she continues to be. She’s in the midst of an internal battle within herself that continues to confuse and conflict her. She has conquered the use of magic by learning from Nox and the rest of the order from book one….but this is exactly how it all started with Dorothy, isn’t it? She got a taste of the power, and then it wasn’t enough. She wanted more and more and more…until eventually ruling an entire kingdom wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to control everyone, she needed them to fear and worship her, as well. And now the dark magic is making it’s way to Amy, and she struggles to stifle it with each new battle and after every new hard decision is made. She is becoming someone she doesn’t recognize….and I loved every minute of her internal conflicts. And perhaps the brightest point of her life, her most grounded ally, is the adorable warlock, Nox.
She had been both good and wicked and everything in between. She had been both at once, too, until it was very hard for her to even tell the difference anymore.
Two: Nox. My beautiful, messy-haired boy, Nox. He is just so wonderful. I absolutely adored him-from book one until now he has left such a mark on my heart. I can hardly think about this series without getting all mushy and sighing when I think about this poor orphaned boy who fights for the only thing he has ever known to strive for-his freedom from Dorothy. But what he doesn’t know? What happens after. Who will he become? What will he do? What will his purpose be? We get to see a more vulnerable side to Nox in this book, and I devoured each and every moment he was a part of. I almost would go so far as to say I didn’t think he was treated the way he should have been…I’m very protective of my boy. A beacon of light for Amy’s impending darkness, her voice of reason, and her greatest ally and friend. Nox, just like in book one, stole the show. I am obsessed with him and CANNOT WAIT for more of him in book three-I need his HEA.
My last glimpse of Nox back in the city kept flashing through my mind: his dark, always-messy hair, his broad shoulders and skinny, sinewy arms. The determined tilt of his jaw, and that look of almost arrogant pride. The anger that was always coiled deep in his chest finally ready to burst out and strike down everything that stood in his way, all of it to save Oz, the home that he loved.
No, not just that. To save me, too.
Three: The villains. I love these guys. They are complex. They back up what they say. They do what’s best for THEM. They are truly evil. You don’t get false threats with any of them-They say what they mean and they mean what they say. You will feel the pain. You will hurt. You will be upset by what they do-they sugar coat nothing. They are the true definition of evil…and they blur the lines of hate/like/love-because they are truly addicting in their ruthlessness. Wicked-Wickeder-Wickedest-who would you want to go up against? I’m not so sure.
“I. Know. Who. I. AM,” I said again, more confidently this time with each word bringing forth every bit of the power, the rage, and-yeah-the wickedness, that had been building inside of me since I was just a little girl. “And I’m willing to fight for it.”
Four: Everything I don’t have time to mention. The beautiful descriptions. The amazing world and everything that pulls me so deeply out of reality-when I’m in this world, there’s no where else I’d rather be. That’s so hard to achieve these days. The writing-it’s so amazing. How every little detail matters. Amy’s inner monologues. The vivid imagination that goes into each and every moment….the list goes on and on. There is no end to how engrossing this series is.
The rainbows washed over me. It was like I was being spun in some Willy Wonka version of a washing machine. A neon palette swirled around me as I tumbled: hot pink, electric blue, candy-apple red, grape-soda purple, and every color imaginable in between, all of them zooming downward into infinity in a twisting, death-defying flume, carrying me faster than even seemed possible.
So, while this was not what I wanted it to be, I still loved it. I love this series, this world, these characters-I am obsessed with them. Be it good or evil, each and every character is so addicting. We even get more of the lovable Pete in this one!! And, in a super weird way, I get so excited when Dorothy appears. She is so sickeningly sweet…it’s endearing. She might even be my favorite villain EVER. Amy’s journey is one that I can’t seem to get out of my head, and she and Nox’s relationship brings me to a whole new level of fangirling. Maybe that’s why I had so many things I was disappointed about…I just needed so much more of what I loved, and I didn’t get it. So, without making this even longer than it really is, just know that I am going CRAZY knowing I have to wait for book three. It might just kill me…but it’s one of those wonderful pains-you know it’s worth the wait.