30. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter, 404 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/16/2013

First things first: I was really looking forward to this one. It all sounded like so much fun…Alice in Wonderland plus zombies. How could it go wrong? After a few hundred pages, I now know better.
Alice’s father has always been afraid of monsters that no one else can seem to see. He won’t let the family out of the house after dark, no matter how badly it impacts their lives. On Alice’s birthday, she asks for one thing: for the whole family to attend her little sister’s dance evening dance recital. After considerable cajoling, their father agrees. On the ride home from the recital, Alice’s father spots his mysterious monsters and manages to crash the car. Everyone except for Alice dies. While in the hospital, she meets a girl named Kat who will later become Alice’s BFF. When the school year rolls around, Alice is living with her grandparents and going to a new school. She immediately becomes entranced by bad boy Cole, in spite her inner voice telling her to stay away. Around the same time, Alice is noticing that she is seeing and smelling things that shouldn’t exist. Creatures that lurk in the dark. Creatures that no one else can seem to see. Students are known to have gone missing and the group of kids that Cole hangs out with always seem to be battle-scarred. Naturally, Alice is determined to get to the bottom of all this. As the title implies, Alice discovers that zombies are real, but they exist in the spirit realm and can only be fought there as well. Luckily, Alice has abilities that surpass even the best of the current zombie hunters. So there’s that.
My problems with the book? I had more than a few. I’ll just touch on some of the bigger issues I had. First and foremost, the Alice in Wonderland theme. It was practically non-existent. Aside from the fact that the protagonist’s name is Alice and her pal’s name is Kat, there are very few other parallels to the original. In fact, if it weren’t for the title and the chapter titles, one could easily forget this was supposed to have anything to do with Wonderland at all. It feels like a cheap ploy to pull in fans of more traditional mashups. Second issue: the zombies. Really? Spirit zombies? Zombies that can only be fought in the “spirit realm”? That can’t be seen by the average person? Takes most of the “zombie” out of the zombies. I mean, they can’t even kill them by chopping their heads off. And the zombies don’t really eat flesh so much as they consume “goodness”. If it weren’t for their quasi-physical description, they could just as easily have been some other supernatural spooks. A part of me even wondered if this was originally written as a vampire tale, but turned zombie as trends changed. Final issue: the writing. It’s clearly meant to sound like an average teen, but comes across as forced and cumbersome. It’s as though Showalter really wants Alice to be Buffy, but it’s just not going to happen. Alice is constantly questioning the logistics of her situation, which is necessary since nothing would make the slightest lick of sense otherwise. There’s entirely too much telling and not enough showing. When all your exposition comes from one character constantly demanding information, there’s likely an issue with the plot itself. I’ll be passing on the sequels.

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