Title: Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena ShowalterIf you've put this book aside without giving it a chance because you've heard that it's not an actual Alice in Wonderland retelling, I'm urging you to reconsider. Alice in Zombieland might not be a retelling as much as it's a 'loosely inspired by', but it's definitely an adventure you don't want to miss out on. (Also, I think this book has got to have one of my favorite covers ever, as well as inside the hardcover, it's truly gorgeous.) You see, Alice in Zombieland is super fun, an absolute blast, and one of the most entertaining reading experiences I've ever had. However, behind all that, is a veil of sadness and grief that propels this tale forward, and gives Alice in Zombieland the capability to pack such a powerful emotional punch.
Page count: 404 pages (hardcover edition)
Goodreads rating: 4.14
Published on: September 25th, 2012
Buy it via: Amazon|B&N|Book Dep
Rating: 4/5 crystal balls
Summary: 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…
I wasn't sure how to breakdown this review, but I decided to focus on the key things that made this book a winner for me.
1. Anyone who's ever lost anyone they loved will be able to relate to this story and the protagonist's devastating loss and and her quest to make her loss mean something. Alice Bell, our heroine, is not only a sympathetic character, but a rootable character who's vulnerable yet strong. She doesn't let the tragedy of her family's death immobilize her completely. Yes, it changes her as death always does and always will, but she turns her pain into power, and into this driving force that gives her a sense of purpose. My heart broke for Alice several times during the story, but I also was inspired and moved by her courage, and determination.
2. One of my absolute favorite things, whether it be in books, movies or tv shows, is people fighting together, as a unit, a team. There can never be enough group dynamics out there, and I love the camaraderie that forms between a group of people who unite together for a good cause. Alice in Zombieland has this and more in spades. Plus, we all know ass kicking is just pure unadulterated fun. Showalter must know one of my weaknesses, because as much as I love a good group kicking butt together, I'm even more of a sucker for two people who have romantic feelings for each other, fighting side by side, together on the job, and outside the job. I admit I wasn't really sold on Cole at first -Alice's love interest- but inevitably he won me over and their romance is passionate and though at times it's a little too exhausting, they are quite an endearing pair. (But, more on Cole later....)
3. Alice in Zombieland certainly isn't going to change Zombie fiction forever as we know it, but it adds something new and fresh to the genre. The mythology is compelling, unique, and it gives gives readers enough to satisfy them yet it leaves plenty of room for discoveries in the next book. One of the reasons I love the Zombie genre so much is because it gives us a glimpse of the true nature of people in the most desperate and darkest of times. Some people band together, try to survive and maybe help others along the way, but more often than not, the ugly side of humanity shows and human beings use the crumbling world around them as a way to do unspeakable things, because they can. In Alice in Zombieland, this is executed perfectly. Where there are zombies, there's a perhaps even more dangerous threat looming around the corner, and this threat isn't coming from the 'monsters', but from fellow humans themselves.
4. I don't think there's enough genre based Young Adult fiction that feature the importance of family bonds, but there is strong family themes throughout Alice in Zombieland, from Alice's family that she lost, to her Grandparents who take her in afterwards. As much as I love romance, and even friendship between the main characters, I just think it's refreshing when a story decides to add in familial relationships and show that they can be just as interesting and rewarding as all the rest. One of my favorite relationships throughout this entire book was Alice's relationship with her little sister. I'm trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, so I'm not going to go into the specifics, and how she can have much of a relationship with her if she's dead, but there is one, and Alice's love for her sister is incredibly sweet and touching.
Alice in Zombieland is not a book without it's flaws. I was extremely torn on my initial rating. One one hand, I desperately WANTED to give this book the full five stars because despite some nitpicks I genuinely loved this book, but unfortunately, I found some of the writing and characterization to be a little bit too stereotypical for me. That did get a lot better as I got used to the writing style and characters, but it distracted me a little too much for my liking, though I have to point out, it never interfered with my overall enjoyment and investment of the story. Another problem I had, and this potentially could have been a big one -which I'm glad it turned out to be a minor one- was that I found the character of Cole to be too forceful in the beginning, and I thought that Showalter was trying too hard to make him the typical 'bad boy' with issues. However, as the story played out, his character made a lot more sense, and he become a much more complex character than I originally thought, and thankfully, one that I could root for separately and with our leading lady, Alice
Ultimately, Showalter has created a dazzling tale, that's the perfect amount of fun to keep you flipping the pages well after bedtime, and just the right amount of emotion to keep you invested and thirsty for more. Alice in Zombieland turned out to be one of my favorite reads of this year, and the sequel, Through the Zombie Glass, cannot come out fast enough. If you want pretty people 'kicking ass and taking names', zombie action, hot boys, kissing, and a story that also has the ability to tug at your heart-strings, than this is the story for you and you should go pick it up right now and give it a shot.