Alice Takes Back Wonderland
Alice Takes back Wonderland by David D. Hammons is almost like Once Upon A Time but better and aimed at a slightly younger audience…. If it only had Killian Jones the book would be perfect.
It is sort of a retelling / sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with a bunch of other fairytale and literary characters thrown into the mix. The main plot is that after Alice’s departure the Ace of Spades took over Wonderland and is draining the Wonder out of its inhabitants. Alice is brought back to stop him by gaining the support of those she considers make believe.
There are a lot of characters in this book and while a do like most of them my favourite is one of the secondary characters, Snow White. When you have a gangster, gun wielding Snow White you know you’re going to have fun. As
for the actual protagonist, Alice, I liked the change in her background while still having a sense of the original Alice with her clothes and sense of logic. I think for the most part Alice is around 17/18, near uni……college (I’m English, American education system is strange to me) age. I had a bit of trouble reconciling her at that age since she acts and is treated like she is a child or early teens. It makes sense for her family to act like that but everyone else, including the author? Well that and I finished reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland not that long ago, while on holiday, so still have the image of a child Alice. It’s strange actually because the book starts with Alice as about seven and she sounds older there. That being said I did like her. She was brave and ballsy and I liked her trying to work out why she was saving Wonderland, it was interesting seeing her indecision on the reason. I wasn’t so fond of her basically becoming a general in an army, with her age and experience, but I choose to overlook that.
Peter Pan is the leading man…. Boy….teen… whatever, male and I would say I was sort of apathetic towards him. I didn’t hate him but I didn’t like him either. He felt to me a bit one dimensional. He’s grown up a bit from the original story but other than the more advanced weaponry he still feels a like the Disney Peter Pan – not the book one, he was scary, same with the OUAT one- a good leader and a bit arrogant. Other than that there is not much I can say about him.
Speaking of Peter, one of the things I didn’t like about the story is the sort of love story. It didn’t come out of nowhere, which I was thankful for. There were hints that they would get together like them noticing each other and how they are always seen together but when their romantic relationship starts does come out of nowhere and no explanation is offered about it. Trying to avoid spoilers but after a life or death moment it seems that they are in a relationship or at least, for some reason, start kissing when they feel like it and say nothing about it. It feels a bit out of place.
That can be overlooked though because the story is still really good. It mixes a number of genres and situations from an almost steampunk Neverland to a gangster Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. I actually didn’t really start to enjoy it till I read the steampunk elements despite the fact the story gets straight into the plot within the first two chapters and thankfully doesn’t draw out the unnecessary background stuff. It has all these new elements yet still keeps Carrol’s original nonsense literature ideas like Alice’s musing on numbers near the beginning of the book. I really enjoyed the mixture of genres with the new and the old.
There was also a couple of really good descriptions. There was one paragraph that I loved: –
“something cut through the cards like a sickle. It sliced a gateway out of the paper river, allowing me to escape the two-word hurricane.”
Lovely use of metaphors and imagery.
One bit of the plot that annoyed me was how much the idea of travelling through worlds and draining the something from the world is similar to loads of fantasy and retelling stories. There are a few mentions that the more times people travel between worlds the more it destroys them- the world that it. Every time it was mentioned I kept thinking His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. That is the main plot in the Pullman series, especially towards the end of the last book. It’s also partially used in my favourite retelling of Alice in Wonderland, Syfy’s Alice. Actually when the White Rabbit says he “Your world is terrible. And I want to stop if from infecting mine” it sounded so similar to Dodo and Caterpillar in Alice that I felt the need to go re-watch it. Alice also used the idea of draining something which the main character is trying to stop. In Alice it’s the emotions from people and in this book it’s the wonder from people. It’s used in a lot of other stories as well like Wicked and Dorothy Must Die where magic is being used, and also stops the animals from speaking, it even happens in The Chronicles of Narnia, mainly in Prince Caspian. I don’t really have a problem with it as a plot but it’s more just how many times I’ve seen it
Just to leave on a good point I feel the need to mention how impressed I was by the interweaving of characters. I’m an avid fan of Once Upon A Time– if you couldn’t guess from the beginning of my review- and what I like most about it is that one person can represent more than one fictional character like Cora who is the Queen of Hearts and the girl in the Rumpelstiltskin story. This story does the same but – in my opinion- better. And more thought out. When I read who Captain Hook and Pinocchio where I just kept saying “What” with a dumbfounded expression, kind of like the 10th Doctor when he first meets Donna Noble – Well I thought that and how much one of my lecturers from uni would have liked it since he recently wrote a book on Pinocchio. It was a brilliant twist on the story and made me keep second guessing who the other characters where.
Overall I really like this book. I’d give it about a 3 or 4 out of 5. There were a few bits that annoyed me but I enjoyed it and it really made me laugh. I’d say it was more aimed at early or mid teens but it works for any age – says the 22 year old. It has some interesting mix of characters and genres and mostly all works together.