Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I loved the concept behind this book, but the execution was horrible. It’s one of my first Did Not Finish books this year.

cover dorothy must die

Amazon description:

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a road of yellow brick—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And—Dorothy must die.

Great premise, right? I loved it. I’m all for fairytale retellings, especially ones that play with good and evil being switched.

However, having a good premise is not enough. For me, Danielle Paige’s execution was horrible.

The writing was clunky, overdone, and unoriginal. The plot–that I read–was cheesy and illogical. The characters felt fake and I didn’t connect with Amy’s voice at all.

Honestly, the writing reminded me of some of my own, which is enough to make me hate a book. I can recognize that a lot of the projects I’ve worked on in my life were horrible, and I’m undyingly grateful that none of it was ever allowed to see the light of day. I get seriously annoyed when that kind of writing (which I have hopefully moved past by now) gets published.

And then there was the premise of the book. I loved it when I read it on the back of the book in Barnes and Noble. But in reality it just didn’t make sense.

(Spoilers ahead. Beware.)

Amy lands in Wonderland, meets some people, they die (which was not climatic enough AT ALL), then Amy gets captured by Dorothy. Mysterious hot boy visits her in jail, but can’t get her out. Then, on the day she’s going to be sentenced to a Fate Worse Than Death, a witch arrives in her cell and rescues her, bringing her to the Revoluntionary Order of the Wicked. The Order welcomes her and starts to train her, because she came from the “other place” that Dorothy is from.

But beyond that, there is no explanation given as to why she is allowed into the Order, and the explanation given (that both girls are from Kansas) was just lame for me. The witches are secretive, wise, and obsessed with their cause. Randomly putting all their hopes in a girl with pink hair did not seem in character for them.

And then there was the romance.

Oh God, the romance. Cheesy and heavy-handed doesn’t even begin to describe it. Besides Inexplicable Hot Guy in the beginning of the book, there is Hot Guy #2 (named Nox) who is tasked with training her to be a evil-Dorothy-destroying warrior. Of course, there is instant romantic tension between them, which is only heightened by overheard conversations between the Wicked Witches about the couple and prophetic warnings from Jealous Ex (in so many words). While it had the potential to be an addictive relationship, it fell flat. No part of Paige’s heavy-handed delivery made me want to keep reading.

(Spoilers over.)

That’s the main problem I had with the book: I just honestly didn’t want to continue reading it. I would have spare time in class to read it–which is usually worth its weight in gold–and I’d waste it because I didn’t care what was happening in the story, and I couldn’t deal with how bad the writing was. I’ve been trying really hard this school year to keep up with my reading habits, and a book that keeps me from reading is counter-productive and endangers the work ethic I was managing to sustain.

So I stopped reading it at the end of chapter twenty-two. I’ve read a ton of positive reviews for this book, and I’m afraid that the rest of the book is good. I honestly spent a good four days trying to decide if I would or wouldn’t finish it. Ultimately, for the reasons listed above, I gave up on it. To those people who enjoyed it: does the writing get better, or did it not bother you? Does the plot get less cheesy?

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

  1. I read it in about 2 days. But that’s not because it was good! I was so eager to reach the end because I thought Amy was actually going to kill the witch this book. Instead we get this longggg winding journey that leaves us with a few sentences at the end of the book setting up the REAL long winding journey to kill Dorothy! It was SUCH a crock of shit and I was SO unhappy with the ending.

    And then I did some Googling on this book and there’s a bit of controversy around it, and a reason why I think it was so terrible. Remember that jackass James Frey that wrote A Million Little Pieces and Oprah thought he was amazing until the world found out that he pretty much lied about the whole book? Well he started a publishing company that comes up with ideas and then hires writers to write them–usually writers with some kind of already established name. Danielle Paige is actually an actress, and Dorothy Must Die is a book put out by Frey’s company. You can read more about it here–>

    I was surprised how many well established, yet shitty books, were put out by them, and now I refuse financially support any of Frey’s books.


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