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Friday, March 28, 2008

The Looking Glass Wars

Author: Frank Beddor
Challenge: Royalty Rules Challenge, Once Upon a Time Challenge, YA Challenge (now how's that for hitting up the challenges?)
Rating: 4/5

This book provides a great example of what I was talking about yesterday in regards to book artwork. Thanks to Rhinoa's great review, I requested this book from the library without ever looking at the coverart. However, as I opened the book, the first few pages are a sequence showing how a card soldier unfolds from a harmless looking (if oversized) playing card to a lethal warrior. Beautiful pencil drawing precede each chapter. The cover is a bit plain in comparison, but all the artwork conspires together to make the book very appealing.

Let me refer you to Rhinoa's review for a fuller summary, but in brief, this is the real story of Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland Throne. When her murderous aunt Redd attacks Wondertropolis on Alyss' birthday, she is forced to run for her life, and winds up in 1800's England. No one believes her crazy story, but a friendly man named Lewis Carroll offers to write her story. However, as it turns out, he doesn't believe her either, because he twists her story into silly nonsense that we all of course know today as Alice in Wonderland.

Although they are NOTHING alike in tone or style, this book reminded me here and there of Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz. I think it was how both books made me rethink classic children's stories. In both of the orignal stories, the worlds they described were sort of silly, but the retellings build on the characters and ideas and try to convince us that they were real, serious places that were misunderstood by their authors.

Anyhow, I always found the Alice in Wonderland movies (the Disney versions) to be extremely creepy, and my mom actually got rid of them because I would always ask her to stop the movie anytime I was watching it. I don't honestly remember my opinions of the books, because I read them such a long time ago.

However, I did enjoy this retelling quite a bit. Alyss starts off as a selfish, somewhat mischievous child, and through the ordeals she goes through, turns into a polished, accomplished warrior, wielding her imagination as a weapon.

I enjoyed seeing how Beddor found ways to incorporate pieces of the Alice in Wonderland books into a cohesive society, and how he imagined the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts "really" were. (My favorite is his take on the Hatter, who is the head of an elite security force known as The Millinery. Guess what his weapon is! Guess! It's his hat, which turns into a deadly blade).

I've already got the sequel, Seeing Redd, checked out from the library, so onwards, now.


Eva said...

I read this one and liked it, but I haven't read the sequel, so I can't wait for your thoughts on it. :)

DesLily said...

I think this is the first review I've read for this book. I'm not a fairy tale retell person but this doesn't sound bad at all !

Alice Teh said...

I didn't know that Alice in Wonderful can be creepy. I thought it was quite good...

Melody said...

This book sounds interesting! I'll have to look out for this. Thanks for the review, Kim. :)

Nymeth said...

I really really want to read this series. I loved Wicked and the fact that it added so much depth to Oz. It will be interesting to see the same being done to Wonderland.

Kim L said...

eva-I hope the sequel is as good as this one.

deslily-it is a pretty good book. Actually I wouldn't classify it strictly as a fairy tale retelling, since it deviates so much from the source material. Its just a good fantasy book, and I know you like fantasy. :-)

alice-I don't know why exactly I found it so creepy. I guess its kind of like the kids who are terrified of clowns. I think it might have been the fact none of it made any sense! I liked things to make sense.

melody-glad you liked the review! I hope you do check it out.

nymeth-yes, it is an interesting addition to the Wonderland story. Wicked, of course, was definitely an adult book, where this book was more of a YA read. So it isn't as serious or political as Wicked. It is pretty fun to see how the author rethought the characters from the original book.

Rhinoa said...

I am so glad you loved it and I definitely agree with the Wicked comparison. I have a review up of Seeing Redd as well on my site which I also loved. I hope he writes the third book soon... Oh and I have the Hatter Maddigan graphic novel waiting to be read.

Kim L said...

rhinoa-well I'll have to wait to read your review until I finish reading the book, but I'm hoping its as good as the first book. Thanks for the recommendation!