January 13, 2013

Review: Alice in Zombieland

Down, down, down the rabbit hole we go...except in this story, there is no rabbit hole. There are woods and graveyards that contain zombies. Does that count? I didn't think so.

I originally purchased this book for two reasons: (1) the cover and (2) the assumption that it was a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. After reading Pride & Prejudice & Zombies a few years ago, I really had to talk myself into reading this. I was not ready to jump back into the gory zombie world, but that is not what this book offered.

I read it during the holiday break and cannot believe I waited that long. From the clever chapter titles to the intriguing presentation of zombies, this book was a whole package for me, and I am disappointed that I have to wait so long to read the sequel.

Title: Alice in Zombieland 
Author: Gena Showalter 
ISBN: 978-0-373-21058-9 
Pages: 404                                    
Available: NOW at your local bookstore or library 

Summary (from the book jacket): 

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies. 

My Thoughts:

I felt a little tricked by this book. First, it takes place in my home state, which is quite rare in YA lit. Second, it has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland. I really thought this was going to be like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. But it wasn’t. And I still loved it.

The author takes no time grooming her reader into the world of monsters. Nope. We are thrown right into the mix. What is portrayed as a mentally ill father actually turns out to be quite correct. There are monsters, but not everyone can see them. The years he has spent keeping his family safe are all for naught in a single moment. That’s all it takes.

And Alice is to blame. After all, she is the one who convinces the family to step out, and they are unable to return home before dark. Reading their death was heartbreaking, but what a powerful way to open the novel and to introduce us to what Alice will become. It is her guilt that drives her. Or is it her destiny? Both? Yes. I am going with both.

I really enjoyed this book—all elements. From the plot to the character development. I thought the book itself was paced quite nicely. My heart was pumping when it needed to, but it was also allowed time to rest and renew, which is important to me when I read zombie tales. Yes, I am a wimp, and I don’t care who knows it. I love zombies, but I do not love the gore they tend to leave behind.

The characters of this novel are what made it a fun read for me. They were clever and kick-ass. Kat was my favorite “minor” character because she really brought out the best in Alice. Loyalty is her middle name in this book. She stands by Alice, even when Alice cannot share her darkest secret. When Kat is on the page, watch out. She will pelt you with clever dialogue, dagger eyes, and true friendship to Alice when Alice needs it the most. I feel that the author saved all the best lines for Kat, and I am okay with that.

I absolutely loved Alice’s character. She really wants to do what is right, avenge her family, no matter the cost. Even if it means it will cost her life.

She wants to train to be a zombie killer, and she will not take no for an answer. She can feel that it is her destiny. She asks questions, is curious, and really wants to learn. But she is torn. After the death of her parents, she is living with her grandparents. How will they take to her new life? So she keeps it secret. As a result, she becomes the typical "bad" teenager who needs rules and boundaries. Sometimes sharing the most dangerous secret with those you love is the way to go. And sometimes it is not. I liked the way the author addressed this and tried to create a balance. This is something a lot of teens struggle with: balance (just, minus the zombies. I hope).

Alice's first battle scene is by accident. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time. And of course she won't listen to Cole. She is strong minded and stubborn. She wants answers. She deserves answers. She believes Cole is the one with those answers.

Her training sessions were a lot of fun to read because they were full of sweat, trash talk, and drama. Alice is not the only one with her eye on Cole, and this brings tension within the zombie fighters. There is a scene with a treadmill that elicited a giggle from me because (1) it was ridiculous plausible and (2) it was a fight. Who doesn't love reading a good fight, especially between two girls? 

Her fights with the zombies were an interesting take on zombie battles, different from what I’ve read in the past and seen in movies. Her heart and soul were in every battle, thirsty for more. Or were those the zombies?

And where would our story be without a hero? Cole. He was steaming up the pages. His “bad boy” image was made of legends. It reminded me of Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You. If you have seen that movie and enjoyed Verona, you will love Cole. They have the same level of likeability while still being mysterious.

Cole is a nice compliment to Alice. When he first appeared on the page, I was not too sure what to think of him. Based on what the book jacket, I knew he was going to be an important player within the plot. He was. And is. And the chemistry he has with Alice is hot. Yep. Hot. That is about all I can say about Cole without ruining important plot points, but I look forward to seeing where the author will take him in the next book.

As a whole work, I really this novel. While it was not what I originally expected, it was a delightful surprise. I read it in a day because I could not put it down. I wanted to know where the author was going to take me—well, technically Alice—next and how she was going to develop the world of zombie killers.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is unsure of zombie storytelling. It is an intriguing look into that world without being gross and gory. It offered just enough suspense to keep readers engaged and turning the page. I did not find an element of the storytelling that lulled, not even a little bit.

What’s your favorite zombie tale?

Happy Reading!
     - The Hodgenator

1 comment:

  1. Now that's what I call a cross over to the Zombie Land ..

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear from you