Book Review – Dorothy Must Die

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Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Page
Publisher: HarperCollins (April 1, 2014)
Age Range: 14-17 years
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062280678
ISBN-13: 978-0062280671
Amazon Reviews: 3.8/5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library

Blurb as seen on
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 the yellow brick road, though—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.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

I feel I have to come clean with my preconceived notions on this novel. At first, I was completely intrigued by the concept. It was one of the many YA re-tellings I am interested in trying out. Then I discovered on a writing forum that it is a Full Fathom Five book. That didn’t mean much to me, so I did a little digging, because there’s nothing I hate more than being uninformed. Turns out Full Fathom Five is a book packaging company founded by James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces. In case you don’t recall, he got in some hot water for marketing his book as a memoir, when it was in fact fiction inspired by some experiences in his life. I told myself I shouldn’t allow the shady circumstances of Frey’s rise to success or the fact that the purpose of FFF is to produce the next Twilight, instead of just focusing on good literature deter me. After all, Frey wrote a book that received a great deal of attention, so even if he wasn’t forthcoming, his book was still presumably well written. (Note: I haven’t read it) And even if Danielle Page has attached herself to a publishing system that somehow feels impure and tainted, she is still a writer. She put in the same blood, sweat and tears as the rest of us. I was reservedly rooting for her. With all of that in mind, here’s my honest review:

We are quickly and colorfully introduced to our MC, Amy Gumm. Page paints a vivid picture of the life our heroine leads: trailer trash, no friends, dead-beat dad, drug-addicted mom, terrorized by Mean Girls galore. In fact, the picture might have been just a little too vivid. As in unrealistic. You definitely feel for Amy and all that she has gone through, but the poor girl has literally not one friend. Even loners, geeks, nerds, goth and trailer trash usually have at least one friend. And you get the stereotypical principal that blames Amy for something that wasn’t her fault, believing the lying, pregnant, prom queen instead. It was all just a little too tragic, too miserable, too unfair to be believable.

There are also a few inconsistencies that I had a problem with as well. First, I didn’t know Amy’s name for a good portion of the book. This is partly my fault for not picking up on the clues, but they were rather obscure. The Mean Girls taunt her with Salvation Amy and Dumb Gumm, but I read Salvation Amy as Salvation Army and Dumb Gumm,well, I guess it’s her last name, but it was so non-specific I missed it. The principal might have even said it too, but I missed that. So not entirely author’s fault. She tried, but I’m usually pretty good about details.

Next problem was Amy’s mortal enemy in Kansas, the leader of the Mean Girls who is all pink and glitter. Every time we hear about this character it’s pink! Pink! Pink! I even started hating the color. But Amy’s hair is dyed pink. I liked that touch. Reminded me of Jessica Muese on American Idol, but hello? Mortal enemy=pink. You do not associate yourself with mortal enemy’s signature color. Amy tries to explain it away with some deep thought about how maybe she really wants to be like mortal enemy, but no one wants to be like this girl. Not even other Mean Girls. The explanation was weak.

The last glaring inconsistency for me was Amy’s mom. We hear a lot about how after the drugs Mom became distant, unreachable and nothing like the the loving, supportive mother she once was. We are given one scene in the beginning where Mom is verbally and emotionally abusive to Amy in a somewhat passive way, but I didn’t see that as a constant circumstance. The neglect was bountifully highlighted giving us the scope of Amy’s lonely childhood. Then closer to the end Amy claims Mom was always verbally and emotionally abusive. I don’t think Page established that circumstance enough to make the claim.

So, what did I like? Well, the writing was decent. Not great, not good, but definite potential. her opening scenes were a perfect way to show us Amy’s world without telling us. I especially enjoyed the correlation between Amy’s mom’s drug addiction and Dorothy’s addiction to power and magic. I wish Page would have explored this angle further because I found it far more interesting than many of her other plot points. And I was also really happy to see this wasn’t just a turn-Oz-on-its-head story. Dorothy’s story is exactly the one we all know, we just don’t know the whole thing. Dorothy returns to Oz and it all goes to hell after that.
Overall, I think we could have skipped half this novel and concentrated on the the idea at the end. It’s highlighted in the book blurb, but it isn’t part of this story. Dorothy never goes after the Tinman’s heart, the Scarecrow’s brain or the Lion’s courage until the very end. She doesn’t have this concept until the final chapter. It felt like this book was drawn out to sell more books. I won’t be reading the sequels, though I look forward to anything else Danielle Page produces in the future. She has potential, but I’d like to see what she does after she gets past the Land of Oz.

My Review: 3/5 stars

Do you have any thoughts on this book or Full Fathom Five you would like to share? Answer in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review – Dorothy Must Die

    • Yeah, I’m a “cover girl” myself. Usually pick something up because the art is intriguing. I had high hopes I would like this, but not so much. But there are a lot of readers who did, so if it sounds interesting don’t let my “Debbie-downer” post stop you! 🙂 I have found since I started writing 8 years ago that my taste in books has become more and more picky. If the writing or the plot or even little details are lacking or inconsistent, I tend to give a negative review, even if the story is compelling. A good story isn’t enough for me anymore. The writing has to be spot-on too. And I think YA readers deserve the whole package, not just what publishers think they can market well.


    • So am I. 🙂 I actually wrote a post about that a while ago (it was called “Counting Stars” :P). I rate most books 3/5 and 4/5 is more like a “favorite book EVER!” status.


      • I’ll have to check out that post! Most books will get a 3/5 from me. If I give you a 2/5 or worse than I pretty much think the book should be thrown away. 4/5 denotes “I’ll definitely read this again and the sequels!” If an author gets a 5/5 I will cherish that book forever and probably ask to be buried with it. JK. My coffin would be too heavy with books. 🙂


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