Although I read "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire many years ago before the musical came out, I got the urge to dust off my old copy and give it another go (so I can read the next book - "Son of a Witch"). I read "Wicked" for a book club the first time around. I was one of the few club members that enjoyed it back then. Doesn't matter. I still say for anyone that likes a good fantasy with flying monkeys and political injustice, you can't go wrong with this tale of the misunderstood, green-skinned Elphaba and her love/hate relationship with Galinda (oh, alright, Glinda) the Good.
This book is all about what happened BEFORE the witch meets up with the little girl with the ruby slippers in the well known children's novel. "Wicked," however, is most definitely NOT a children's novel. Recently, I have noticed a number of 5th graders in my elementary library carting around a copy. I have to assume the parents have never read the book and only seen the musical. Due to the graphic, adult nature of some of the content, I would not recommend the book for anyone under high school age (and even that is somewhat questionable depending on maturity). The musical might be fairly straightforward and "clean" for the family audience, but "Wicked" the book is not written for the younger reader.
Still, I am fascinated by the concept of taking this character we grew up believing was "bad" and discovering her true nature. Good stuff, people.