October #RdgWl

Once I got the news that Alice was going to be published in 2017, one of the first things I wanted to do was to figure out where my competition would be. 

As a retelling, Alice already has some big contenders- Sisters Red, The Lunar Chronicles, and  Beastly, to name a few, but I wanted to focus on the stories that revisit Wonderland to see where MY Alice will sit in the world. That being said, my #RDGWL theme for this month is: 

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Alice In Wonderland

C.S. Lewis had a winner with his tale of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. Clearly, lots of other authors had the same thoughts!  There are dozens of retellings of Alice’s story which I would love to consider, but I had to narrow my list down to these 5 finalists

  1. Alice (The Chronicles of Alice) Christina Henry
  2. Heartless (Marissa Meyer)
  3. The Looking Glass Wars (Series) Frank Better
  4. Insanity (Series) Cameron Jace
  5. Splintered (Series) A.G. Howard
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Alice (The Chronicles of Alice)
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice. (Goodreads Synopsis)First I just want to say how much I love the cover for this book (and the following books in the series)! It really makes me think that Henry has a really dark retelling on her hands, which based on the synopsis and reviews, is 100% correct. Alice plays on the strong theme of madness in Carroll’s original work, pairing it with the concept of facing your demons. Yes, please.  On Goodreads, Alice has a score of 3.9/5. Readers who loved it say that it is dark, strange, and thrilling (and even disturbing – did I mention this is my list for October? mwah-hah-hah-hah!) in all of the best ways. The readers who didn’t mention that label re-telling may be a stretch and off-putting violent overtures (specifically rape). While I most certainly hope that the violence in the book isn’t as upsetting as the reviewers say, I still definitely want to check out Henry’s dark retelling to see how it compares to my own dark retelling. (Zombies, anyone?)

PictureHeartless
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Ok I’ll just say it, when I saw this book was coming out I made a strange squawky sound that was a mixture of happiness and much angst. I was super excited because I LOVE Marissa Meyer and all of her work and the book sounds AWESOME (which is par for the course). But I was also super angsty because Marissa Meyer is AMAZING and now she has an Alice book on the market that I have to compete against (see where I’m going with this?) The inner conflict!!! The silver lining is that this story seems to be chronicling the tale of the Red Queen, and not Alice herself and it sounds like a super awesome origin story. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if Meyers has a series up her sleeve- we might see Alice yet.

The earliest reviews for Heartless are certainly promising. Right now it ranks 4.1/5 giving it the highest rating of my list. The best reviews say Meyers’ work is that the storytelling is beautiful, heart wrenching, and better than the Lunar Chronicles (Come on, Marissa give the rest of us a chance!). The lowest reviews cite poor pacing and predictable plot twists as causes for poor rating. Either way, I am absolutely going to pick up my own copy and see for myself.  

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The Looking Glass Wars 
When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!
Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.
The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination. (Goodreads Synopsis)Bedder’s version of Alyss* sounds right up my alley. I’m expecting a mash-up (and I LOVE mash-ups) of the old meeting the new and combining into a marvelous new creation (think: Glee’s cover of Rebecca Black’s Friday- you know you loved it). I’m excited to see what happens to the rightful heir to the throne.Alyss’ story rates 3.94/5 on Goodreads.  It received high praise from people who thought that it was creative, intriguing, and a completely unique retelling (all things I hope to accomplish with Wanderland). The folks who gave it poor review said that the characters were cliche and flat. Hopefully this is just a stylistic difference, and the story shines. We shall see. 

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Insanity
After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I really like the idea behind Jace’s idea for retelling Alice’s story. It sounds like an interesting spin, and I am also interested to see how Jace utilizes Carroll references to further her plot line. Insanity has a Goodreads rating of 3.86/5. The best comments say that the book is intriguing, twisty, and suspenseful. The worst comments  describe the plot as rushed and confusing at times, and several readers noted poor grammar structure. Overall, it still made my list because I would really like to see the madness of Wonderland playing into Alice’s INSANITY.

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Splintered
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. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Confession time:  This book was not originally on my list. But as I was researching my other picks, this title kept popping up with comments about how great it is. So, I switched things up.

The positive comments for Splintered (listed in other reviews!) alone were enough to make me reconsider Splintered. Its ratings make me think this was a good decision. 3.97/5 is pretty solid. Fans of the book say that it is beautifully written, intricately plotted, and wonderfully twisted. Critics list plotting holes and unappealing characters. But because of all the rave reviews I saw BEFORE researching the book, it’s definitely made the list. Also, it sounds like it follows the insanity theme that has shown up in two of my other list choices, so I am interested to see how each author spins it, and whether the repeated theme will get redundant. I’ll let you know!

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There you have it. My list of top competitors to research for Wanderland. I am looking forward to seeing other authors’ takes on Carroll’s work and comparing/contrasting them to mine. And who knows, maybe in my endeavors I will find a new author to love! I’ll keep you posted. 

Until next time, 

-J.M.

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Are YOU crazy about Wonderland?
What are your thoughts?
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