Author: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 3 Birds
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
I’m calling this book a 50/50. I liked half and I disliked half.
To be fair, I’m going to go in the order the halfs fall in, you know so I don’t show any favoritism or something of the sort. Read both parts, you might be surprised what you find *wink*
The First Half:
Was familiar and very often exactly like many dozens of scenes from the book and movies I have read and seen. The original parts A.G. Howard adds are overshadowed by the undeniable cut and paste feel the other parts leave behind. I don’t really feel like I got to see much of Howard and her ability to spin a tale in the first half, and that coupled with the copy cat feel had me almost giving up on the book. Twice. Before page 150….
The first half is also kind of sub-plot city. There’s about 4-5 things going on all at once and it gets kind crowded for awhile. One of them doesn’t even really play through til the end, just feels like a filler.
And Jeb, Alyssa’s hot neighbor crush. His hotness could not deter me from the fact that he was so overly emo I almost didn’t know weather to coddle him or smack him and demand he become a man. Sure, he has a dark past filled with despair and pain, but it’s hard to root for a love interest who sounds so weak and whiney.
The Second Half:
Was original and exciting. Only a few minor parts felt pulled in their entirety from other versions of the story making this feel more like a retelling than a “reading”. Things I really loved: the twist, Morpheus (!!!) seriously with slight tipping of a hat and you will fall into his dark clutches
Jeb becomes less of a pansy (though sadly retains the comebacks of a uncreative 3rd grader) and will leave you tingly from some very nicely done kissy scenes…but who is he kissing?
Alyssa’s very literal transformation is exciting, breathtaking and most importantly original. A new a different mark that A.G. will leave behind in the world of Wonderland firmly marking it as her own.
As you can see I was excited to see Howard step out and make Wonderland work for her, instead of her working within Wonderland, which is really how that first half felt. All along, I could feel there was more in the author than what I was seeing and it’s a big reason why I never actually gave up on the book. I am very curious to see what Howard is capable of with possibly a sequel, but more I would love to see an original work. With the imagination she holds and and her ability to grab readers with the romance factor, she could rock worlds.
All in all, I think that the real Alice fans will see many similarities and should be aware of this going it, and those who don’t know a whole lot about Alice at all other than the Burton remake from a few years back will be bowled over.
I’m going with 3 Birds. I’m torn with the uneven start I had, but I loved the ending!