(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Abrams on January 15th 2013
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, General, Young Adult
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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.
Killing the bugs that whisper to her is the only way for skater girl Alyssa Gardner to escape the madness that put her mother, and countless of her female ancestors, in an asylum. Alyssa’s great-great-great-grandmother told Lewis Carroll stories that inspired his novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But the Wonderland that everyone knows about is not the world that Alyssa goes to—straight down the rabbit hole—in an effort to save her family from the curse that binds them to the eerie world beneath. Soon, she finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime with welcomed and unwelcomed guest, trying to survive in a world that she could have only imagined.
“For so many years, the women in our family have been pegged as crazy, but we’re not.”
I have had my eyes on this book for a while, but for some reason have never picked it up other than to write it down on a wish list—a huge mistake. This book had me hooked from the first line. The Wonderland that you think you know changed completely in this book—the characters are eerie, evoking, and captivating. This new world may have had a darker side but one that I couldn’t wait to return to. It enhanced the novel that the original work was the background for the story, and Howard added her own spin to make it skillfully her own. The writing was effortless—not to mention purple—and my eyes sped across every page, blending into the beautifully mastered work of fiction.
“’I need her, too.’… ‘I’d even dive down into a rabbit hole.’”
Alyssa began her journey in a effort to reclaim her mother’s sanity and save her from falling into the same trap. Her devotion to her mother, even though they have a tenuous relationship, drove the story in a delicate way. When she debated turning back, the thought of her mother danced at edge of her mind, loosing hers. Even though Alyssa hadn’t called her mother by any other name but Alison for eleven years, she still carried a devotion to her that catapulted her through the darkest parts of Wonderland. Her strong reserve and desire to protect those she loves spanned even farther when Jeb—even Morpheus—became involved. Alyssa remained strong even when others doubted her and that strength remained bright, establishing a strong, relatable female lead.
“’What happens in Wonderland stays in Wonderland, right?’”
If they journey she took had not been difficult enough, there was her hidden feeling for Jeb and her unknown feelings for the mysterious Morpheus to add to the story’s allure. After finishing the novel, I still couldn’t decide which one I loved more—they both have their redeeming qualities that continued to call back to me once I had given up on them. The love triangle that slowly strengthened was cataclysmic and intoxicating. Both of the boys tugged at different parts of Alyssa, but deciding which one she wanted to embrace posed a challenge that hasn’t yet been resolved.
“I have another side…It’s the side that chooses to trust him, despite our bizarre past…or maybe because of it.”
This book not only took me to an entirely new, addictive world, but one that I will surely return to. Once you pick it up, be prepared to be sucked in and brace yourself for the unexpected twist and turns thrown artfully into the story—there’s no turning back once you’ve jumped down this rabbit hole.
“’You can retrogress as many yesterdays as you please. Simply walk backward the rest of your life.’”