Saturday 4 August 2012

R.M.L - Was by Geoff Ryman

WasWas by Geoff Ryman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 5 days

Blurb From Goodreads

This haunting, magical, wildly original novel explores the lives of several characters entwined by The Wizard of Oz--both the novel written by L. Frank Baum and the iconic, strangely resonant 1939 film. It is the story of the "real" Dorothy Gale, an orphan living a hardscrabble life with abusive relatives on a Kansas frontier settlement, and of the kindly substitute teacher who decides to write the story of the life she ought to have had. Was is also the story of Judy Garland and her unhappy fame. It's about Jonathan, an actor now dying of AIDS, whose intense attachment to Oz dates back to his troubled childhood. And it's the story of Jonathan's therapist, whose work at an asylum also unwittingly intersects the path of the Yellow Brick Road.
From the Great Plains to glittering Hollywood, Was traverses the American landscape to reveal the whirling funnel cloud at the core of our personal and cultural fantasies. It is a powerful, moving story about survival, and about the power of human imagination to transcend the bleakest circumstances.

My Review

I think it is safe to say this is the first book I have read like this. We all (or most of us) know the story of the wizard of Oz and this is a tale with some of the characters and the basic information as a back drop. The story splits into 3 main parts, that of Dorothy, Judy Garland and Jonathan. The characters and dates split off into different chapters and go back and forth and will paint you a picture that is very different to the Oz we know, or make you think of it in a different way.

I must admit, I loved some of this book and I struggled with some of it. The bits I liked where fabulous and even after a few days since finishing it - I am still thinking about it. The bits I didn't like were mostly things I was confused on and found some of the time changing and so many characters a bit much for my brain to comprehend, at times. However the story is really good and evokes a host of emotions as you follow the characters lives.

I was captured mostly with the Dorothy and Jonathan side of the story and if I am honest there is a few characters I felt I wouldn't have missed had they been dropped out but that said I am biased because I wanted it to be all Dorothy & Jonathan. I think for those coming in with Oz in mind you need to keep an open mind as this is only some of the characters and not the story of Oz and some of it is a fair bit darker.

I loved that at the end the author has taken the time out to shed some light on what parts are real and the where and how he got his information. This cleared a lot up for me and I am sure a lot of other readers will appreciate it too.

I would definitely read more by this author and for a first attempt I am giving a 3/5, it might not be your cup of tea but then again you might just love it!

View all my reviews


  1. This definitely sounds unique and if it left you thinking about it after you were done reading, that's a good thing.

  2. Sounds confusing. I think you would need to be "prepared" to read it.


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