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31 May 2006


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Fuse #8

See, you're far nicer to the book than I was. I found it humorless drivel that had a real contempt for Carroll's original story. In interviews Beddor has been saying that he always saw "Alice" as a girly story. Obviously this book was partly written to rectify the situation. Problem is, he's too fond of bloody battle sequences in which you just do not care about any of the characters. Add in the fact that you learn almost nothing about Wonderland before Redd takes it over and it's just a pretty book with an interesting concept and not a drop of worthwhile content.

Of course, I could be wrong... hee hee ...


Ooooooo. You HATE it. That was an awesome rant, lady!

It's interesting that he called Alice a girly book -- I suspect that if I'd gone into LGW knowing that, my review would have turned out differently. It SO isn't a girly book!

As a general rule, I don't mind it when authors play with classics. Sometimes I even enjoy it.

(I do, however mind travesties like Disney's Hunchback movie. But that's another subject altogether. Anyway.)

I found the place names in LGW uninspired and the whole Black Imagination vs. White Imagination somewhat... black and white. There wasn't much character development or subtlety -- Redd was just BAD, The Cat was just BAD -- which is exactly why I think it'll be popular with action movie fans. If I had gone into the book expecting just an action-adventure novel set in Wonderland, I wouldn't have been nearly as disappointed. I think.

(Also -- I thought Jack of Diamonds, the bad-guy comic relief, was one of the most engaging characters -- which is a bad sign, as he was a total cliche. But c'mon. The wig-monster was kind of funny.)


I've always loved the Alice books, and I make a point of reading them at least once a year. This book is going on my summer reading list.


I'm looking forward to your review -- obviously, the response has been mixed. I'm curious to see what your take will be.


I also hated this book. Even more so because I liked the idea, but it was poorly executed. Really poorly.

I also though Beddor stupidly wrote a book for boys with a girl as a main character, which means no one will read it.


Okay, I liked it! See I love the Alice books also, but it always kind of bothered me that it was joke that someone yelled "Off with their heads" the whole time. And everyone knows the caterpillar was stoned but we aren't supposed to say anything about it. And I could never figure out how the card guys got to be playing cards who moved. So, I liked how Beddor played with the mythology, how he talked about the crystal and the imagination and the maze and all of that. I thought a lot of what he wrote actually added to the book. And I did like the action sequences - but I also like James Bond movies.

The thing about Alice being a girly book is that everyone whose commenting here is a girl - so do we see it as girly as say Nancy Drew or a harlequin romance? No - but my brother never had any interest in reading Alice, my husband has never read it, none of the guys I grew up with read it. So even though it isn't a major girly book I think there are a lot of boys who would say that it is. This book will draw male readers, I'm certain of it. They will see the comic and want to read the book and they will hear about the cat and Hatter and all that and want to read the book. And I do think boys can read a book with a female protagonist (even my husband loved the Tomb Raider movies and he doesn't love Angelina - he loved the way she blows stuff up.)

And, well, I realize I'm in the total minority here but I like a good action book sometimes, whether or not it takes place in Wonderland. And I thought there was enough backstory in the book - plus he takes it as a given that the readers have read Carroll's book so they already have some idea of what it is like (albeit a twisted idea from his version).

I think it was fun, the same kind of fun I get from 007 or Tomb Raider or even The Mummy movies. Yeah, their violent, but I can read only so many teenage angst titles without losing my mind. And I liked the parts about the Liddels too - I thought that was all quite clever.

It will be interesting to see how the actual teenagers respond to the book, don't you think? (I imagine they will be a lot less concerned about how Beddor treated the classic then the adults are.)


Yes -- I am so curious about how it will be received.

The girly vs. not-girly argument is interesting: I kind of feel that the movie is girly, but the book isn't.

The female protaganist deal wasn't an issue for me -- all I'll have to do is mention Hatter and his whirling blades and boys will be clamboring for it. (Case in point: Mortal Engines -- there are two main characters, a boy and a girl, and readers always think that Hester is SO much cooler than whatshisface.)

Anyway. As an action movie book, I think it totally works -- the pace moved along, I wanted to know what would happen next, I read it in a day. But like I said, I didn't really care about any of the characters, and I still don't think any of them were particularly emotionally interesting. Hatter totally works as a super hero, but a 2-D BIFF BANG POW superhero, not a Kurt Busiek/Alex Ross superhero. In a movie, sometimes in a comic book, that works for me. In a book, not so much.

(Incidentally, I think that's one of the reasons that Matrix III sucked so hard -- the directors assumed that the audience would actually care enough about Trinity and Neo and their relationship to watch a 45-minute-long death scene. I just wanted to see stuff get blown up and some cool wirework. I was muttering "Just DIE, already" for what seemed like hours.)

Anyway. I don't think my personal issues with the book had anything to do with using Alice as a springboard. I was just expecting something different.

Paul Acampora

I received a galley of this book several weeks ago but I never got to read it because my 11 year old son snatched it up and roared through it across one marathon weekend. Pages were literally falling away behind him as he walked around the house with the book in front of his face. So I can't give any personal review of it, but I know that the book's intended reader would give it very high marks. In the meantime, I'm trying to convince the dog to spit up pages 114, 9 and 84...


Aha! I knew it! Sometimes it's so hard to put aside personal feelings about a book and try to figure out what someone else would think of it. Glad to know I might still have the touch. I might hand it off to a middle-school aged patron of mine and see what he says.


Colleen, have you ever tried to sell a book with a girl protagonist to a teenage boy? In my experience, its a hard sell, and I personally didn't like this book enough to hard-sell it.


Paul, I'm glad you're son liked the book. I have had it on my shelves since last June, and no one will by it. It doesn't help that the (Canadian) cover is horrendous. There has also been no publicity for it up here, which doesn't help.

Little Willow

I love the original Alice books with an intense, curious fashion. I like checking out Wonderland retellings, but of course, none ever can compare to the originals for me. I've read other reviews for this book that made me want to stay away from it; yours furthers that distance.

Colleen Mondor

I've seen the Canadian cover and there is no way any book could sell very well with such an awful design. I don't know what they were thinking with that one.

As for girl protagonists, off the top of my head I can think of Julie of the Wolves, which was a huge seller in the Fairbanks bookstore I worked in (survival story), also the Wrinkle in Time series with Meg Murray & co, The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiller (kids who liked puzzle type books always like this, regardless of sex) and, of course, the His Dark Materials series - Lyra carries the first book but boys are happy to follow her.

The thing about Looking Glass Wars is that it is not the same type of book as Alice in Wonderland. It's not a puzzle book or a "playing around with language" book. It's an action adventure. Beddor addresses this change a bit when he shows Alyss Heart's frustration with Lewis Carroll. She thinks he has made her world, which suffered from a civil war before the red queen returned, into something silly and harmless, not political and complicated. (The cool example of this is the real person behind the White Rabbit.) So you read this "retelling" if you want a book that is very action oriented and dark - it's all about movement and change and physical struggle. Also, I should point out that it doesn't just center on Alyss. There are chapters from the pov of the Hatter and also her friend Dodge who is very much a boy and eager for revenge.

I think the book has some real value and I will be recommending it this fall. But I'm more intrigued by the girl/boy question that has spun out of this discussion and also the questions raised about retelling (or revisiting) classics.


Almost verbatim conversation with a middle-school boy yesterday:

ME: Hey, I have a book for you.

HIM: Is it my kind of book?

ME: Well, there's a lot of fighting and blood.

HIM: Yep. That's my kind of book.

ME: It's kind of a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland.

HIM: Oh. [That's an "Oh" in a bad way.]

ME: But it's totally different -- the Mad Hatter has these crazy spinning blades at his wrists and he can flatten his hat down to throw and...

HIM: COOL. I want it!

So I lent my review copy to him. I'll keep everyone posted about how it goes.

I'm still with Colleen on selling girl-protaganist-books to boy-readers. I've found The Golden Compass to be more popular with boys than girls, for one. (Iorek helps sell it.)

I do think it helps if the boy is already a reader, though. (My middle-schooler is a huge reader.)

But I also feel Ali's pain on this one -- why bother pushing a book that you don't like when there are so many other great ones out there? (This is coming from someone who hatedhated HATED Artemis Fowl -- but I do suggest AF if I think it'll be a good fit.)


Ali - I'm right there with you. I enjoyed the book, and spent months trying to get people to buy, with little success, probably due to the ugly cover. I didn't realize that it hadn't been released in the States yet. Boy, did Canada get shafted on the marketing.

I LOVED the book thought it was absolutely amazing. I didn't actually know it was based on "Alice in wonderland" By lewis Carroll until I looked it up.

I LOVED the book thought it was absolutely amazing. I didn't actually know it was based on "Alice in wonderland" By lewis Carroll until I looked it up. And I don't think it's a girly book or a book just for guys. I think anybody would like it really if they like books with lots of action and mythical/magical books. I know I sure loved it every chapter,page, sentence, and word.


(Looks like I'm the first high school student to comment) I read this book because my friend recommended it to me and I loved it. I do agree about the fact that there's not much character development, and there were also too many holes in the plot. I liked it all the same. But the second book was a real letdown, the whole book seemed to be 80% Hatter and 20% Alyss, they should have focused more on Alyss and Dodge.

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