This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
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.
I really liked the grow of Alyssa’s character throughout the book. There is such a social stigma of mental illness, especially since all the women in her family have gone “crazy.” I love the Alyssa found past the stigma and decided that she was going to be strong instead of just thinking that the madness would seek her out. But on the mental illness end, I thought it was really sweet how Alyssa’s father stayed madly in love with his wife, Allison. He visited her at the asylum constantly and never gave up hope that she would get better.
It rocked that there was not a deep love triangle in this book. Although there were two guys vying for her attention, I didn’t get that normal annoyance with love triangles that I normally do. I understand Alyssa’s attachment to Morpheus because of the comfort level from childhood. There are just certain people and places that feel like home and that attachment is deep.
Sometimes the imagery was so complex or out of the ordinary I had a hard time envisioning the characters she created. I wish that Disney would have waited for this book to come out to do Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp. I can totally see Tim Burton bringing this book to life in theaters and making it wicked cool. The bug-like, almost dead characters would be right up his alley.
The second book in the series is already out, Unhinged and I am excited and interested to read where she goes with this story. February might be a month of fairy tales for me with Cress, Unhinged, and Cruel Beauty!