Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle PaigeA review written/summarized by Amanda.

Every month, our club votes on the book that we want to read for that month. October’s winning book was Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. The following review is based on a verbal discussion at October’s meeting.

Spoiler-free Synopsis:

Amy Gunn is a typical teenage girl, living in present-day Kansas with her mother and their pet rat Star. Like the rest of the world, she grew up with stories of Dorothy Gale and her fantastical trip to the Land of Oz. She saw the movie, read the books, heard the famous song about the rainbow over and over. Also like the rest of the world, she believed that it was all make believe, until a tornado (yes, a tornado) picked up her trailer from the park that she calls home and deposited it in – you guessed it – Oz, where Amy quickly discovers that the legendary land is not at all like it was supposed to be. It turns out that Dorothy returned to Oz and was still there, wreaking all kinds of havoc. Oz is not what it used to be. Good is wicked. Wicked is good. And it’s up to another girl from Kansas to put things right… if she can figure out what “right” really is.

Fangirls’ Analysis:

October’s hostess chose this book because she thought the premise sounded promising and that the club would enjoy it. She also liked “the unique take on Oz”. Club members voted for it out of love for fantasy stories and because an “original viewpoint of a familiar story was compelling”.

During the discussion, comparisons were drawn to a book that the club read earlier in the year, John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. That book is also a retelling of classic tales, many that were darkly twisted and very different from what we are familiar with. Particular attention was drawn to Connolly’s version of Snow White, now portrayed as a cruel and grotesque woman who uses the dwarves as her personal slaves.

What We Liked:

Amy is a headstrong young woman who doesn’t fit in at her school. She even has an archenemy. She doesn’t have any friends and her relationship with her mother has deteriorated over the last few years. Despite all of this, she is determined to graduate high school with top grades and escape Kansas for good. She isn’t without bitterness but she doesn’t let it affect her long-term goals, which is admirable. The individuals that she meets in Oz are unique creatures with serious issues of their own – Indigo, a Goth munchkin with a BIG attitude, and Ollie, a flying monkey who wishes to change his species’ fate. And then there’s Nox, the handsome, solemn boy who only seems to add to Amy’s confusion – and Pete, an eccentric boy who claims that Oz needs Amy’s help, but disappears at inopportune moments. YA skeptics shouldn’t worry—Paige doesn’t follow the usual YA romantic tropes with this story, which is much appreciated.

What We Didn’t Like:

The story ends on an extremely abrupt note. Even knowing that a sequel is in the works, the ending seemed to come from nowhere and didn’t feel like a natural stopping point. While the majority of the story moves quickly and keeps the reader engaged, there are some scenes in the middle that drag on a bit too long. Amy also has a tendency to swear but the profanity doesn’t sit right with the overall style of the story, or with Amy’s character.

As a group, we really enjoyed this story and are looking forward to reading the next book!

Fangirl rating: 4/5 stars.

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