By A.G. Howard
Released January 2013
4.5 / 5 Gnomes
A review in 10 words or less: Alyssa meets Mothra and things get curiouser and curiouser.
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.
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.
“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I love all things Alice. I love journeys with chaos, imagination, and just a whole lot of madness. I really love Jim Dale's audiobooks reading of the story. When Ashely at Book Nerd suggested Howard's debut, I moved it up on my priority list and devoured it whole.
While the idea of using dead bugs in artistic mosaics totally creeps me out, Howard does such an amazing job describing each picture, each bug so beautifully that I wish I had one hanging in my house somewhere. Alyssa's creative side reaches from head to toe and out her fingertips all throughout the story in dark and beautiful ways.
Totally swoonworthy boys makes this books pretty darn awesome (if you like that thing of course..which I COMPLETELY do.) Jeb is the boy next door. Literally. He's sensitive, thoughtful, also artistic, and somewhat of a bad boy all wrapped up in an adorable package. His loyalty and genuine affection for Alyssa in Wonderland and beyond make him one of the most awesome parts of the book.
Then Morpheus. How I wish I didn't like you Morpheus? You are deceitful, manipulative, and sometimes just downright mean...(and now like a silly girl who shouldn't like the bad boy but does...) BUT you're patient and also loyal. You're powerful, and beautiful, and mesmerizing. And you're a moth which ups your awesome scale.
Howard completely turns Wonderland upside down. Forget the images Disney has implanted in your mind, including Tim Burton's warped version. This Wonderland is grotesque and terrifying. It is the epitome of chaos and madness. And it is so real in the hands of Howard. The story is complicated. Not only is their a lot of world building (despite the backbone of the original Alice), three different generations weave their way into the story in an intricate way that takes time and precision. Howard walked a fine line between old Alice and her own creation, and she did it well. Really well.
The Not So Awesome
It was maybe a little predictable. Love triangles usually are. And because the story has familiar characters, you already have a general sense of how they will react to certain situations.
Oh...and I smell a sequel.
So the book was pretty much AWESOME. In case you can't tell, I rather enjoyed it. And I needed a book I rather enjoyed. It was funny, and lovey, and weird, just how I like my escape books. Can't wait to hear more from A.G. Howard.