Review: The End of Oz

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die, #4)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In this high-octane fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to save Kansas and make Oz a free land once more.

At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all.

In the fourth installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, the magical Road of Yellow Brick has come to the rescue, and whisked Amy away—but to where? Does the Road itself know where she needs to go to find the help that she needs?

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.

 

I’ve had an up and down relationship with the Dorothy Must Die series, but I’m pleased to say that I have mostly positive thoughts about the final installment.

Here’s the thing you should know about me: I judge all Oz retellings against the Wicked musical (just like how I judge all dystopias against The Handmaid’s Tale) and… let’s just say, Wicked is a hard act to follow. The movie Oz the Great and Powerful? Um… the visuals were nice, I guess. The wicked witch character on Once Upon a Time? Literally the worst. NBC’s Emerald City? Well, I was kinda sorta liking it until they killed off the one character I liked. I enjoyed the Tin Man miniseries for its campiness, but the dialogue was a little clunky. Oz retellings and I just don’t seem to get along unless it’s Wicked and you’ve got Elphaba singing about defying gravity.

But what’s admirable about Dorothy Must Die is that it not only turns the traditional wicked witch versus goody two-shoes Dorothy plot on its head, it also dives headfirst into a lot of the lesser known Oz mythology (this is something that Emerald City, for all its faults, also got right.) I have to give Danielle Paige credit for doing her research into the other books about Oz and pulling some lesser known characters into the mix.

When I finished Yellow Brick War, the third book in the series, I was a bit annoyed. I thought DMD was going to be a trilogy and to found out that there was suddenly this magical fourth book… when you were expecting things to be over and got another cliff-hanger instead, you might not go into the final installment with the best thoughts. But I don’t like leaving things unfinished unless I’m really mad (maybe at some point I’ll write a discussion post on DNFing because I have many thoughts) so when The End of Oz came out, I picked it up.

The usual fast-paced storytelling is still present in this final volume, I’m happy to report. There’s no time wasted on reflection. I thought it was an interesting choice at this point in the story to introduce dual narration. I wonder if things would have felt different if we’d had more of Dorothy’s POV all the way through? It did make for a bit of a jarring reading experience: Dorothy’s voice is definitely an acquired taste. So I’ll be honest: I wasn’t as invested going into this final book as I wanted to be. But I was won over in the end because I honestly didn’t see it coming. (I don’t want to spoil it here, but if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean.) It was a bold narrative choice and while it might not be popular with some readers, I have to give Danielle Paige credit for going there. If I had to rank all the books in this series, it would look something like this:

  1. The Wicked Will Rise (book 2)
  2. a tie between The End of Oz (book 4) and Dorothy Must Die (book 1)
  3. Yellow Brick War (book 3)

Report Card:

  1. Coverart/Book design: 8.5/10 A-
  2. Plot/Concept: 9/10 A
  3. Main character: 7.5/10 B. I like Amy but as I said… Dorothy is an acquired taste
  4. Secondary characters: 8/10 B+
  5. Setting/Worldbuilding: 9.5/10 A+. Major credit where credit is due for the research.
  6. Writing: 7.5/10 B
  7. Pacing: 7.5/10 B
  8. Romance: 8/10 B+
  9. Ending: 9/10 A.
  10. Overall: 74/90. 3.5 stars for a B+ rating overall and a satisfactory ending to the series.