Author: A. G. Howard
Will This Take Long? 377 pages, so not really
Publisher: Amulet Books
Series? Nope, stand alone
Why? I’m a sucker for Alice retellings/tributes/spin-offs,whatever. I love Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars series (and I haven’t read the last book yet ARGH) and the concept of McGee’s Alice games (sadly I’ve never played them, but the freaky art and game concept looks awesome!) so when I saw this laying around in the break room I just snatched it.
Keywords: Alice in Wonderland tributes, McGee’s Alice, (icky) love triangles, creepy cute things,
Excerpt from the first chapter:
I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.
Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders…bees and butterflies. I’m not picky. Once they get chatty, they’re fair game.
The females in Alyssa’s family had this curse since the famous Alice Lidell and her so-called adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa’s mom couldn’t deal with it and is now in a mental institution. Alyssa deals with her family’s curse by killing the bugs she hears and using it in her art and so far it’s been working out for her. Then Alyssa discovers that her mom *isn’t* crazy; the talking bugs and Wonderland are all true, and the only way to break the curse is to go to Wonderland and right the wrongs her relative did over there. Luckily her hottie childhood friend Jeb and her mysterious friend Morpheus, a moth denizen from Wonderland who used to visit Alyssa when she was a child comes along to “help” her out. By the way the moth’s a hottie too.
I really liked Howard’s concept of Wonderland; her descriptions of the characters (like the “White Rabbit” and “Mad Hatter” or Herman Hattington for example) and events like Hatter’s tea party reminded me of McGee’s version of Wonderland and it creeped me out. In a good way! The insanity curse was a pretty neat plot too. Although these points were cool, it really wasn’t enough to wow me. Maybe it’s because I’ve read these other Alice stories?
Another aspect that kind of brought the book down for me were the characters. Once again, a good story is thwarted by an icky love triangle with none of the points in this triangle being really interesting. Jeb’s overprotectiveness seemed a bit overdone and really annoying since he was dating another girl when it was obvious he had feelings for Alyssa. Morpheus seemed like the standard, mysterious guy with a hidden agenda character, but honestly a *tad* more interesting than Jeb. And in that aspect neither didn’t really give me the hottie vibe. Take away the “love” and Alyssa would have been a cool character to flesh out. I feel for her when she believes she’s turning crazy like her mom and admire her when she still tries to take care of her despite what happened in the past and goes to Wonderland to save her.
It seems like a lot of people enjoyed this book on Goodreads, so for those who, like me, enjoy any version of Alice in Wonderland I do recommend reading this to add to your collection. Just don’t really expect anything new. I for one would like to read about the ‘real’ Wonderland and what really happened during Alice’s time in Wonderland.