The Wonder City of Oz

by John R. Neill
Series: Oz 34
Reviewed date: 2021 Jul 14
318 pages
cover art

This is dreadful.

Slapstick. Disjointed. Inconsistent with established Oz canon. Inconsistent with itself.

There is one plot line that runs through the book: Ozma calls an election--excuse me, an ozlection--and runs against Jenny Jump for ruler of Oz. That is not consistent with what I know of Oz and Ozma. There are playful things in Oz but there is an underlying seriousness. Ozma is always earnest and her rulership is unquestionably good. From the reader's perspective, Ozma may seem ineffective at protecting Oz, but internally to the story, she is a wise, steady, good and benevolent ruler, and her right to rule is unassailable. She would not call an election, certainly not on a whim. Neill's book dispenses entirely with that seriousness. There's not a moment of seriousness anywhere. The tone is wrong. This does not feel like the Oz I know from Baum.

Random adventures
The book seems like a set of random adventures strung together with no attempt at consistency or coherence. Only the ozlection storyline ties it all together, but even there, the ozlection storyline is more like a framing story and all the little adventures are just plopped in but have no relevance to the ozlection. I read that Neill didn't even write the ozlection storyline, it was inserted by a heavy-handed editor. Given that it was the only decent part of the book (and that's being generous) I do not have a good feeling about Neill's next Oz book.

The Title
The book never did reveal which city in Oz is the Wonder City.

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