Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Reviews: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

There are some things I will pick off the shelf blind, no matter what the plot. And one of those things is Alice and Wonderland retellings. So when I saw this little beauty, you can bet I was at the library checkout in a flash, clutching it protectively in my arms. But does the Looking Glass Wars measure up to my expectations?

Plot- When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!
Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.
The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions surrounding mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination. (Plot according to goodreads)

Characters- This story features a huge cast of players, some adapted from the characters we all know and love (Like the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat) and some completely new. Alyss, not Alice, is of course the main character. She is spunky and likable, starting out as a brat who matures into a leader. Dodge, her love interest, is equally likable, with a pension for revenge against the assassin who killed his father. By the way, that assassin is the Cheshire Cat. He is delightful in his new role, and the Red Queen makes an acceptably vicious and crazy villain. Shout out to my favorite character, Hatter Mattigan, who’s weaponized hat makes me squeal with delight.

The Good Points- The problem often times with making an Alice and Wonderland adaptation is keeping the crazy tone of the original in line with a new plot. Alice and Wonderland doesn’t really have a plot. So how do you keep the characters delightfully nutty in a war zone? Well, Looking Glass Wars manages this quite well, especially with the concept of Imagination. Imagination is a form of magic in Wonderland, which is a great idea and allows for a lot of crazy things. Many characters are distorted from their original form but they become their own beings and play well in this world.

The Bad Points- The climax was a bit rushed and I could have used more time in Wonderland as opposed to the real world. Fortunately, the real world is interesting and its fun to see how the two worlds parallel each other. And we got more Wonderland in the sequel. But that’s a review for another time.

All and all, the Looking Glass Wars is a fun, crazy ride, fitting the original story. I loved the characters and the world and, because it has so many things I loved, it has earned a rare perfect rating from me.

Final Rating: 5/5

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