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Friday, July 30, 2010

Review - The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss Heart, Hatter Matigan, Bibwit Harte, The Cat. Do these names ring a bell? Sort of? That's the whole idea behind The Looking Glass Wars, a re-telling of Lewis Carroll's famous children's book, Alice in Wonderland. It's kind of a flip on the old story - instead of Alice falling into Wonderland, she falls through the Pool of Tears into our world, five years before Lewis Carroll wrote his story (and you can guess where he got it from). Alyss can either make her way back to Wonderland and fight her evil Aunt Redd for the Heart throne or she can stay in 19th century England and marry a British Prince. Which do you think she chooses?

Reader's crit: I'm not entirely sure why this book appealed to me, maybe because it was on sale or maybe because I have a soft spot for re-tellings of old fairy tales, but it did, and I don't regret it. I loved the creativity that went into re-inventing my favorite characters. That goofy Mad hatter? Well, he's a martial arts expert who can slice people in half with the blades that he swings from his hat, and The Queen of Hearts? Alyss's evil aunt Redd who kills Alyss's mother and father and spreads Black Imagination throughout Wonderland. Bibwit Harte? Move the letters around and you've got the White Rabbit. (I posted the cover that has some of the card soldiers on it so you could get a feel for this "new" Wonderland). There were some new characters too, a love interest and some devoted friends. I know, I'm giving too much away now. Although it didn't move me to tears, I really enjoyed the way Feddor turned things around. I don't think that I would go so far as to buy the second and third book, but I'll probably look for them next time I'm at the library. And, I do have the original by Lewis Carroll now (got it at Target for a buck!), so I'll read that sometime soon. Hate relying on   Disney for my background. Score = 4

Writer's crit: I suffered from a bit of confusion when I started this book because I wasn't sure why it was categorized as young adult. In the first half of the book Alyss is a child, then her adolescence moves very quickly and before you know it she's 20. That age range is a little uncommon for YA, and I found myself wondering why Feddor chose to make Alyss so old until I got to the end and saw a timeline. Feddor apparently tried to mirror Alyss's "new" adventures to major events in US and European history. And that's cool, but I still think the book would have been better if Alyss had remained a teenager. The characters themselves were a bit two-dimensional, especially Redd and Hatter Mattigan, but Alyss herself was well-developed and her love interest had a bit of a struggle at the end too, making him more realistic. There were a few parts that dragged for me, but just when I thought it was getting a bit tedious, a colorful character would come in to spark things up. And as already mentioned, I loved the imagination that went into re-creating this familiar world. Score = 3.5

My question for the day: Do you have a YA re-telling of an old classic that you really liked? Did it live up to the original?

Also, don't forget to subscribe to my blog. I'll be having a contest soon and you'll get extra points for being an old follower!


Girlinbetween said...

GREAT REVIEW! I esp love how you gave to reviews from two POV- a writer and a reader. Love it!

Jen said...

I'm very intrigued by this novel. I can't think of a book I read as a child that has been retold but I think I'd try it out for size to see if it lived up to what it should have.

Thank you for your review and I think I might have to sneak in and pick up the book :)



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