Published: November 12th 2013 by HarperTeen
In this digital original novella, Dorothy travels back to Oz to reunite with old friends, but her story may not have a happy ending. No Place Like Oz is a prequel to the forthcoming novel Dorothy Must Die.
After returning back to Kansas, Dorothy Gale has realized that the dreary fields of Kansas don't compare to the vibrant landscapes of Oz. And although she's happy to be reunited with Aunt Em, she misses her friends from the yellow brick road. But most of all, Dorothy misses the fame and the adventure. In Kansas she's just another prairie girl, but in Oz she was a hero. So Dorothy is willing to do anything to get back, because there really is no place like Oz. But returning to the land she left comes at a price, and after Dorothy is through with it, Oz will never be the same.
Home isn't just where you're born-it's where you belong. I found my home and I let it go. But I came back. Now I was home for good, and I would never, ever make the mistake of leaving again. The past was gone forever. There was no place like here.
- Danielle Paige, No Place Like Oz
To start off, I would quickly like to point out how I'm a bit disappointed. Especially after having read the actual novel, Dorothy Must Die. There's something about this novella I can't put my finger on. Usually I read novellas a lot faster because they're full of adventure. They end on a note when you're desperate for more. I wanted to love this as much as I did with Dorothy Must Die. I did like it, although it could have been so much better.
It's almost impossible to not compare No Place Like Oz to Dorothy Must Die. Comparing this to the other is probably the very reason of my disappointment.While writing this review, I keep asking myself how in the world did the author go from this to one of my new all-time favourites. Not that it's bad, just less fantastic. The premise is still the same. Dorothy turning into a fascist leader is something you want to read about. I've always been fascinated by Frank L. Baum's world, and the one created here is extraordinary. It's a sequel to the original novels without trying to be, and on the other hand it's a prequel to a whole new trilogy. As with Dorothy Must Die, I did love the vibe I got while reading. It's just that there were other things that couldn't be ignored.
The pace and certain elements of the plot each played a role in why I struggled with No Place Like Oz. The biggest of the two had to be the pace. It wasn't that interesting in the beginning, and I couldn't find something that caught my attention. It was only at the ball when things started to get awesome that I found myself flying through the pages. There wasn't really a plot either. To summarize the whole novella, it's pretty much about a girl who finds shoes, gets back to Oz, turns evil and has a big party. Again, I know it's a backstory for the actual novel and isn't as important. On the other hand, I keep asking myself what if the plot was better. Would I have enjoyed it much more? I definitely think so.
The characters. These are difficult to write about, in the way that almost every single one of them had something I both liked and didn't like. Dorothy is the character who stood out, and not because I was in her head all the time. Although it's obvious to see why she's turning into a little bitch, her development in turning wicked was something I fairly enjoyed. She still has that authentic feel of the original Dorothy mixed with something dark and twisted. I think it's pretty clear by now what I easily fall for. In case you haven't noticed: when authors still manage to have that original feel to a retelling of something. Danielle Paige obviously managed to succeed in doing that. Not only Dorothy, but also the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Lion all reminded me so much of the original characters, it was lovely. To be honest, I haven't read any of the Oz novels so Ozma came as a surprise, especially when you've seen her in Dorothy Must Die. She's that lovely little princess who everybody loves, including me. There's always that kind of character who's there for light-hearted moments, and Ozma is no exception in that category.
That being said, I can't help but to not overlook two small issues when it came to the characters. One: the development of every character besides Dorothy. I get that it's a novella and that it's not the right time for character development, but one with two hundred pages might get some. What I'm trying to say is, I just thought most of the characters were rather flat. Most of the times it doesn't stand out that much, yet it did with No Place Like Oz. Not only was this noticeable with Dorothy's crew, Auntie Em and Henry were the real issues I had here. Both of them were flat, but above all, extremely annoying. I know this isn't morally right, but I enjoyed certain scenes at the end. It doesn't do much good to them, yet I couldn't help but smile. This probably makes me an awful person for writing this, but those two, I didn't like them at all.
No Place Like Oz isn't a novella I hated or loved. It was something in between. What I do know, is that it came across as a disappointment. Lucky for me, I read the awesome Dorothy Must Die before reading this, so now I know to continue this series. If you've only read this and you're considering reading the novel, I definitely recommend you do.