No Place like OZ (Dorothy Must Die 0.1)
By Danielle Paige
This prequel novella tells the story of Dorothy after she has arrived back in Kansas only to find herself unsatisfied with the life she thought she had so desperately missed. Turning 16, she soon learns that the slower paced life of “home” no longer appeals to her. She wishes desperately to return to OZ and all of its magic. She misses her friends and the excitement.
But when she discovers a mysterious gift that grants her wish, she learns that OZ has changed. Time has passed. All things come at a cost.
Where to start, where to start? It was just recently that I shared my thoughts and struggles on writing less than positive reviews. Now I find myself sitting here facing that very challenge, once again. I may be slightly guilty of psyching myself up for this one too much. I am also trying to approach this with the mind-frame that it is simply a short novella. So I should not expect as much, but I did.
I decided to start with No Place Like OZ before jumping headfirst into the Dorothy Must Die series. The concept is intriguing, and I love the idea of an OZ retelling. OZ has always been this whimsical world full of magic and promise. As a child I read the story and watched the movie countless times with a sense of longing. I wanted to click my heels and be whisked away. It was fun. Unfortunately, this novella did not provide anything remotely similar to previous experiences.
So let’s look at Dorothy. She was the breaking point for me with this one. I totally get the concept of putting a dark spin on things and shaking it up. Again, huge fan of retellings so I am so open to the idea. But if you are going to convert a character (especially your main such as Dorothy Gale), you must fully commit. There was no follow through. Dorothy was not represented as truly evil or mislead, she was simply a little bitch. Sorry, no not sorry. There is no other way to put it. I detested everything about her from the word go! No part of her character appealed to me in any sense. I wasn’t even able to hate her in that fun sort of way (thinking Regina from Once Upon a Time). She was just nasty and lacked any sense of appreciation from the very beginning.
“You can’t trade a boatload of wishes for a bucket of slop.”
-Danielle Paige, No Place Like Oz
Every supporting character from Aunt Em to Ozma also managed to fall flat. They were weak and really did not feel like a true contribution to this story. In fact, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry angered me. 16 or not, they should have taken Ms. gale over their knee and gave her a good one.. sigh.
Oz is full of wonder and magic. So that is what I expected. There was nothing that really stood out here. To be fair, you can probably only elaborate or construct so much within such a short novella, so I will not be too harsh on the lack of detail here. I get it, this is a prequel, an opening. I believe the author wanted to maintain the reader’s focus on Dorothy and what was happening with her. She did manage this successfully. However, there was still a part of me that longed for the fantastical setting we all associate with OZ. There was even one scene that was entirely too reminiscent of the original 1939 film for me but less thrilling. I just could not help but feel let down.
Okay, it was not that bad, but you get the idea. I was ready for the magic! It didn’t happen.
On one hand it has potential. On the other, it was pretty predictable. Again, the idea of an “evil” Dorothy is awesome! It just felt that everything was over simplified with poor execution. No Place Like OZ reads like something tailored more towards very young readers. Even for YA it was lacking in any real depth. There was a simplicity to it that completely surprised me.
There is an idea here that seems original, and I am trying to remain fair to the fact that this is a 125 page prequel. This isn’t meant to tell a full story, so the simpleness of it all may not necessarily be a sign of what is to come. It is very possible that the actual series turns out to be incredibly fascinating. I know of several fans. Unfortunately, for now this is where it ends for me. This was 2 stars for me, but I would recommend forming your own opinion if you are wanting to check out the series. Maybe skip the novella and jump right to Dorothy Must Die. I do not believe that this book is necessary, as I took very little from it.