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Book Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter


AliceAlice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Published September 25th 2012 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Paper Book
Length: 404 pages
Genre: Zombies, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Horror
Reading Level: Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real…

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies…

I don’t read a lot of zombie books. (They have a habit of giving me nightmares. Nightmares where I have a Japanese katana sword, speak French, and kick ass but then have to throw myself out of the dream when the zombie munching gets too graphic.) But my obsession with everything and anything to do with Alice in Wonderland won out over my hesitation and so when I was browsing the shelves at my library I picked up Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I’m weak. I do believe this is the first zombie book I’ve read in almost a decade. (And no nightmares! Although there was one crazy Wonderland dream…)

Alice in Zombieland was not what I expected. For some reason, the blurb made me think this was going to be an apocalyptic zombie novel and that our Alice character would be in an ‘end of the world’ situation. (Thus, creating some sort of new ‘Wonderland’ for our Alice character to live in.) Maybe I fell for a stereotype but the book couldn’t have been farther from what I envisioned. It’s set in contemporary times (In fact, at one point Alice mentioned reading The Iron Fey series and I had to blink in surprise at the destruction of the fourth wall.) and knowledge of the zombies is afforded to only a few select people. The zombies themselves are untraditional and Showalter had to create a whole new mythology for the creatures in order to explain why only certain people could see and fight them. I’m not sure I like the new mythology Showalter created. It works for the book but at the same time it’s a bit absurd. It sort of squashes zombies and ghosts together and gets a bit messy in the process. Also, to my disappointment, the Alice in Wonderland connection is thin at best. There are some scattered references that really don’t bring anything to the novel and that’s it.

Of course, my biggest beef with Alice in Zombieland is the romance. (Romance is pretty much the bane of my existence in Young Adult books.) Alice is a good girl, Cole is a bad boy, they are both ridiculously hot, and have an ‘Instant Connection of Destiny’. So a good portion of the book is them playing relationship yoyo and sucking face. There is even an ‘Ex-Girlfriend of Doom.’ Oh, and Alice is an extra special snowflake among special snowflakes. The only thing that saves Alice in Zombieland for me is that everyone can kick zombie butt and most of the characters are rather interesting, when they’re not trying to get into each other pants. So, the romance is clichéd, the zombie mythology interesting but a little convoluted, and there are a lot of awesome fight scenes. For me, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter was a typical teen drama that was okay but not great. Other reviews bring me to believe you either loved this book or hated it. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Thank you for reading!


Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

splinteredSplintered by A.G. Howard
Published January 1st 2013 by Amulet Books
Format: Paper Book
Length: 371 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Dark Fairytale
Reading Level: Mature Teen
Goodreads | Amazon

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 adore Alice in Wonderland and any novel with even an inkling of connection to it gets a definite read from me. That’s why I was so excited to finally get my hands on Splintered by A.G. Howard after waiting for two weeks for a copy to finally become available at my library. I always say; it takes a bit of madness to deal with Wonderland. Unfortunately, all my excitement was for not. I was extremely disappointed with Splintered. It pinged every annoyance button I have in regards to YA novels and drove me nuts while I read it because I could see the potential for a great novel hidden underneath irritating main characters and the nauseating and aggravating teenage romance. I’m about to be very harsh here. You’ve been warned.

First; the good. I loved the dark, gritty remake of Wonderland. It’s a more mature version of the fantastical land, where everything is now covered with a layer of horror; completely unlike what we see in the original novel and the Disney movie. It’s a very English look at the fairy creatures, which are more often portrayed as not very nice or good. I love it when authors working with Alice and Wonderland revamp the story into a more adult version. Howard’s Wonderland is nightmarish and fascinating. All of the secondary characters are fantastic. The Twid Sisters in the cemetery are my favorite, although the dark fairytale quality to everyone makes the reimagined characters so much fun. The plot is complex and the twist surprisingly a surprise. The world-making in Splintered is the best part of the whole novel. 

Second; the bad. For me, this meant all of the main characters. Alyssa is a whiny child and Jeb is a controlling alpha male that should have been left on the opposite side of the mirror. Morpheus is okay but I feel he could have had a bit more mystery about him. He’s solidly cast as a sort of villain rather early in the book and I feel he could have had a bit more “is he or isn’t he” surrounding him. But my main peeve with this book is Alyssa and Jeb and their utterly stupid romance. Jeb is an obstacle to Alyssa’s journey and character development. He’s a controlling alpha male that needs to go away so Alyssa can continue her development into an independent person. As it is, Alyssa comes off as a whiny child that can’t deal with anything. This is not what I am looking for in a protagonist. The romance is clichéd, the page long descriptions of kissing are more nauseating than anything else, and the pair fairly ruins the book in my opinion.

The novel does get better near the end but that’s only because Jeb falls into a crevasse and is then carted off to the castle and Alyssa actually has to deal with things rather than focusing on Jeb’s honey sweet lips and perfect butt or whatever the hell it was. Look; I get that they are teenagers and I understand being focused on your crush but there is ‘focused’ and then there is obsessed and codependent and maybe you two should see other people. The novel is a touch too long in my opinion and would have gained from moving a little faster. So, Splintered by A.G. Howard was a fail for me. It reads like a check list of the most annoying things about YA novels for me. Maybe you like that type of romance and Alyssa and Jeb’s utter occupation with each other (completely ignoring any type of character development and bogging the plot down to a crawl) is something you might like. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

Thank you for reading!

“Waiting On” Wednesday – April 25

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted on Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I have an obsession with The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. I have tea cups, and pictures books, a Mad Hatter hat I made myself, and a really old, really fragile copy of the book that I worship. My Alice in Wonderland obsession is all consuming. So, it is no surprise that any book coming out with even a glimmer of connection to my beloved Alice or Wonderland goes on my “to be read” list. Or should I call it my “to be obsessed over” list?

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection is:
Splintered by A.G. Howard, to be published January 2013 (sob) Such a long time!

I love the cover!

Goodreads summary:
For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell — the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s famed novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can’t compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers … the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an unusual website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend / secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place more twisted and eerie than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head.

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