By: A.G. Howard
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.
Other than the obvious love triangle (I have a profound dislike for love triangles), this book checked off everything I love in a book; the perfect dose of romance, adventure on every other page, a fantastically imagined world, 3-dimensional characters, and amazing writing. This is the perfect debut novel. A.G Howard was able to use every inch of her writing talent, and she showcased it all phenomenally in this book. There is a limited amount of things that I didn’t like.
I have never read Alice in Wonderland, nor have I seen the full movie(s). I’ve seen bits and pieces of the one with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, but not much. I know some of the main characters enough to have a mental image in my head, and what wonderland sort of looks like (thanks to Once Upon a Time), and the cover helps a lot with showing me what the color scheme Wonderland is. Wonderland is certainly wondrous and has you pondering nearly everything that you see (or in this case, read). I found myself rereading sentences or paragraphs just so that I’m 100% sure I read it correctly, because it’s just so much different to what I’m used to.
I’ve had a bad past with young adult female heroines. They oftentimes annoy me to the point where most of the book is ruined for me (The Selection, Divergent…), but I fell in love with this protagonist from the first chapter! That is very rare, and once I realized the protagonist was not doing anything to annoy me (aside from having an obvious crush on someone I didn’t like very much, but I will get into that later when I talk about the love triangle), I was ecstatic to continue reading, because I knew that if anything was to get on my nerves, it wouldn’t be the main character in the story whose head your inside for 300+ pages.
Now onto the love triangle. I don’t find this spoiler material since in the synopsis, it hints at a love triangle, so I will mention it here. I don’t like the character Jeb very much (it started with the name), and then Morpheus came along (who is an even bigger jerk than most young adult bad-boy love interests, which surprised me, because that’s difficult to do), whose name and wings (yes, wings!) saved this love triangle from being completely ridiculous. I won’t say why I’m okay with this love triangle, but it just makes more sense to me since both of the love interests have been acquainted with the protagonist for nearly her whole life.
Throughout the book, Alyssa (protagonist), has become independent and spread her wings, and learned how to fly (or fend for her own). She learned more about her family history and had a drive to save her mother that made me love her as a female protagonist even more than I already did.
I’ll be honest. Going into this book, I didn’t have very high expectations, mainly because I had close to no interest in Alice in Wonderland at all. My cousin actually gave me her copy to borrow and read because it is one of her favorite series and she is obsessed with Alice in Wonderland at the moment. The plot is very fascinating, and the back of the book (different from the synopsis at the top, that I found on Goodreads) didn’t give away much plot-wise. What intrigued me was the fact that Alyssa could hear the thoughts of bugs and plants. Plus her mother is in an asylum, which brings that ludicrous factor to this book that makes it so interesting and unique.
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