When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
Spoilers are in these: [hellooo] Highlight to read them!
I went in with wondrously high expectations. I mean-- it's twisted. It's a retelling. Yes, please, with multiple cherries on top.
I wouldn't say I'm disappointed, but it's not as fabulous as I thought it would be. When I first finished the book, I thought it was the best thing I'd read in a while (but then, it's the first thing I've read in a while, so...). After some thought, I found a few faults, but nothing that made me dislike the book. Just... something that bothered me a little.
Those faults start with Jeb. Now, I liked Jeb. I did! I didn't loathe him or immediately pinch my nose closed in an attempt not to hurl whenever he made an appearance. I liked his presence. It was a good feeling knowing that if Alyssa found herself about to die again, she'd have someone who would save her. It's just... he was really controlling.
I have a thing about controlling guys. I want to bash them with baseball bats. The problem is, Jeb was sweet, too. I want to hug sweet guys and give them friendly pats on the head (my height often causes slight issues with the pats). Obviously, this was confusing. Do I hit Jeb with a bat??? Do I hug him???
No one should decide your college for you. I know this comes completely out of the blue to people who haven't read the book, so here: Jeb and Alyssa's dad made a decision together to not let her go to a college she wanted to go to. (That's just one examples of his controlling-ness).
WHAT. WHAT. WHAT.
That made me greatly annoyed.
Other than how controlling he could be, Jeb was a good person for Alyssa to be with. He sticks with her, no matter what. I actually grew to want them together, and as surprising as it might sound the ending ruined a bit of that for me. [He won't remember what they went through together! They got so close and learned so many things about each other and risked each other's lives to save each other, but all that is lost to him. URGH.]
And Morpheus. Ahhh, Morpheus. The focus of so much drama. Surprisingly, I neither loved him nor loathed him. I was more just... vaguely irritated with him. I will say that I did start to like him more at the end of the book, though.
Here is why I was torn:
A) He was very manipulative. Bad, Morpheus.
B) You could tell that he shared a very deep connection with Alyssa that allowed him to see the very few parts of her that Jeb couldn't. The hard choices. Her wild side.
C) But that did not excuse how much he lied to her throughout the book.
D) [His confession of deep, unselfish love came COMPLETELY out of the blue. It took me a while before I even bought it a little bit. I'm still questioning if he meant every word.]
Now, finally, to Alyssa. Alyssa is not the best main character I've read, but she is good. She's determined, she's loyal, she will do anything for those she loves, and she's smart. Of course, she has her faults, but they're realistic, and nothing unforgivable.
What really made the book for me was not the characters, but the descriptions. They are AWESOME. Obviously, since Wonderland is now twisted and creepy, the descriptions were important. I wanted A. G. Howard to describe ALL THE THINGS. And she did. It was fabulous. From the way a clam looks sitting in the bottom of a boat to the way a corpse looks in certain lighting-- it was all done wonderfully. I really don't know how else to say that she rocked alllll the descriptions.