Book Review: Alice - The Wanderland Chronicles by J. M. Sullivan
When I first heard about this book, it wasn't even released yet, but I remember thinking it sounded interesting, and I bought it as a preorder as soon as it was available. Fast forward to last week and I finally got around to actually reading it, though by that time, I had completely forgotten what the premise of the story even was. I just knew it was an Alice in Wonderland retelling. So I was a little surprised when I started reading and found myself in some kind of zombie apocalypse. Intrigued, and maybe even a little delighted, but surprised. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't that. Nevertheless, the story sucked me in immediately, and I was extremely curious to see how everything would align with the original.
The novel follows a young woman named Alice as she navigates through the ruined wastes of a territory known as Wanderland on a quest to save her sister Dinah. The outbreak of a deadly virus has left the land inhabited by deadly momerath (zombies, basically, though these seem faster and stronger than how you might imagine the typical zombie). Along the way, she meets characters who are familiar from the source material but creatively reimagined, including a young man named Chess, the fearsome Red Queen, and a recluse known as Bug who provides Alice with some important information early on in her journey. My favorites, however, were the nervous, time-concious Dr. Abbot and the disturbingly twisted Dr. Matt Hatta. They were both so well-written into the plot and background of the story that it really added a unique twist to what could have been just a simple rehashing of the story in a different setting.
I also really loved the book's tone. It felt dark and sometimes even downright scary compared to the original (appropriate, given the setting), but there were still some more lighthearted moments that felt like they belonged there and gave the story strong Alice in Wonderland vibes. The action scenes got to be a little much for me at times and started to seem like just a play-by-play of every blow and punch and inflicted injury. I found myself skimming over those parts, but I'm sure there are some readers who would actually enjoy that. Overall, it was a really fun read and I look forward to the next book in the series.