For the thirty-first book in the challenge, I read <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/116597.Dorothy_and_the_Wizard_in_Oz” target=”new”>Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz</a> by L. Frank Baum, the fourth (or so) book in his Oz series. This one got a three out of five, and I think I was being generous, really.
It all starts when Dorothy, her kitten, her cousin Zeb and the horse and cart they’re riding in are caught in an earthquake, because Dorothy is in California visiting family (for poor farmers they sure do travel a lot), and a crack opens right up beneath them and they fall into the bowels of the earth. And they don’t die, somehow.
They land in a magical (and deeply underground) world, because of course they do, and the horse and the kitten begin to talk, because of course they do, and Dorothy being the sort of Plow On Ahead Rather Than Think Too Hard About This Here Situation personality type she is, they just keep going forward. Along the way they collect the Wizard of Oz, who is still very much a humbug and stage magician, because of course he’s so incompetent that he flew off into the sky in a balloon and managed to steer it that far into the ground. It’s like a metaphor for his whole life.
The group plods along, with the Wizard pulling rank and making all the decisions and treating the kids like helpless kids, pretty much, and they don’t do much to alter that dynamic. They all stumble through different lands, trying to get back up to the top, and at some point Ozma realizes they’re stuck and rescues them with her magic, because of course she does. And then the horse and kitten and cousin get to see how made of crazy awesome luxury Oz is, and the kitten is tried for murdering a piglet and decides that speaking on her own behalf is boring, and if the rest of those knuckle-heads can’t figure out what actually happened, then they might as well just execute her and save her the trouble of having to endure life amongst these boring, weird, magical people.
I don’t know, you guys. It’s like Baum decided to just phone it in, here. Part of me can’t blame him a bit; he was so totally over the Oz stuff, and people just wouldn’t leave him alone about it. “When are we going to have another Oz book, Mr. Baum?” in a hundred letters a week would be pretty annoying. Not quite as bad, perhaps, as the stress and demands we’re all placing on George R.R. Martin’s shoulders, but still annoying. And if it made money, then why not churn out another to placate the fans? This was pre-internet, remember, when fanfic wasn’t so easy to share or access.
The whole thing was more of a mashed-together series of very short stories rather than a whole book. There wasn’t an over-arching plot, really, or any resolution to speak of. Dorothy didn’t seem terribly bothered to get anywhere, other than Not Where She Was, and neither did the others. When your buddy pretty much has All The Magicks to do whatever needs to be done, assuming you can get her attention, where’s the conflict? Where’s the suspense? Not Oz.