Friday, May 26, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Alice in Wonderland

If you love Alice in Wonderland you have come to the right place. Today we are featuring five YA books that take a different spin on Wonderland.


Steampunk Duchess:
Last year we featured the first book in Wendy Spinale's series in our tribute to Peter Pan. The second book is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Pete, Gwen, and the lost kids have found shelter at Castle Alnwick under the care of the young Duchess Alyssa, but the horrors of the Horologia virus continue. Alyssa journeys through a dangerous labyrinth with the help of the castle's wild gardener, Maddox Hadder, to find the final ingredient for the cure. Umberland combines steampunk and World War II with Alice. I'm curious to see which story will be the inspiration for the final tale. Any guesses? Mine is Snow White. Umberland is out May 9, 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.


Reluctant Queen:
Marissa Meyer, of Lunar Chronicles fame, sets her Wonderland tale before Alice's adventures. Heartless is an origin story that tells how Catherine became the Queen of Hearts. Heartless is a tragedy. You know it must be going in because you know Catherine's destiny. But, despite my knowledge of what was to come, I still desperately wanted Catherine to be happy and to live her dreams. I wanted her to be with Jest, however impossible that might be. And, I think the fact that I was so invested in her happiness, even knowing it could never be, says a lot about how well this story is told. I loved what Ms. Meyer did with the Wonderland source material. This book is a stand-alone, but I would read a sequel in a heartbeat. 


Mad Granddaughter:
Alyssa Gardner is a descendant of the Alice who fell down the rabbit hole. All the women in her family are cursed with madness, and Alyssa is worried she too will succumb. She already hears the whisperings of bugs and flowers. Then Alyssa learns that Wonderland is not a fairy tale after all and that all the troubles suffered by her family are the result of the problems caused by Alice. It's Alyssa's job to fix her great-great-great grandmother's mistakes. With Splintered, A.G. Howard does a fantastic job with the creepy, weird, mad atmosphere of Wonderland. I love the clever ways that Alyssa fixes Alice's mistakes. They fit in perfectly with the original tale.


Unloved Princess:
Colleen Oakes's Queen of Hearts is the story of Dinah, princess and heir to the throne of Wonderland. With her coronation approaching, Dinah hopes that she will be able to make a real impact on Wonderland, but her father is reluctant to relinquish his throne. I really enjoyed seeing how Colleen Oakes adapted Lewis Carroll's world. Ms. Oakes's Cards, Cheshire, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, and Queen of Hearts are brilliantly connected to Carroll's originals and simultaneously unexpected. I loved that with this story, Dinah, the future Queen of Hearts, gets some life and nuance beyond Carroll's "off with her head" creation. And Ms. Oakes's descriptions of Wonderland absolutely do justice to this fantastical world.  


Zombie Slayer:
Alice in Zombieland is a loose take on Alice in Wonderland with, well zombies. The night Ali's family died was the first night she saw them. Now she knows that the monsters her father always feared are real. Ali finds herself drawn to a group of troublemakers at school and soon learns the reason is because they too can see the monsters. Gena Showalter's mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a lot of fun. This book has all the typical paranormal tropes, and it reminded me why that genre can be so much fun. Alice with a dash of zombie is a pretty fun romp.


All books reviewed by JoLee.

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