Of all the Disney movies that I grew up to, Alice in Wonderland has got to be my least favorite. As a child, I thought the story pointless, and the movie miserable. It felt so different from all the other happy and fluffy Disney movies that I’ve seen. The fact that I am deathly afraid of getting lost must’ve played a part in that. There you have Alice, lost in a place that made no sense to her, and everything that surrounded her seemed to be determined to be unhelpful. When it ended with Alice waking up from a dream, I felt cheated. After all that trouble, THAT’S how it ends? HRRR.
I was able to read the novel just recently, and though I learned to appreciate the whimsical writing style and admire the wordplay, I’m still not in love with the story. The book just seemed to ramble on without a definite purpose but to show a collection of bizarre dreams of a little girl with a very creative mind. I suppose it would help to read it as though it were poetry and not prose, but that’s a whole, different topic.
Looking Glass Wars, the first of a three-part series by Frank Beddor, is a twisted, upside down version of Lewis Caroll’s classic story. In this reimagining of the novel, Alice did not stumble into Wonderland, she came from it. Alyss Heart is crown princess to the Queendom of Wonderland and was forced to flee into the human world when her aunt Redd (the Queen of Hearts counterpart. No duh.) waged war to usurp the throne. There she struggles to live among humans who would not believe any of her stories. Eventually she stops trying to convince everyone and starts to believe that all her memories were only dreams until someone from her past tries to take her back to where she came from.
The book’s pacing was incredibly fast. I was able to finish it in a day, reading during particularly long rides. I really liked how Beddor transformed Caroll’s (and Disney’s) colorfully nonsensical world into a dark and sinister chaos. He interprets the familiar characters and elements into something slightly more complex. Silly Mad Hatter comes in the form of badass Hatter Madigan, the honor-bound front-liner of the Queen’s personal guard whose hat is not a fashion statement but a death sentence. The Cheshire Cat is a dangerous shapeshifting assassin, the White Rabbit a wise old tutor going by the name Bibwit Harte. What Caroll’s and Beddor’s main protagonist had in common was that they both had a powerful imagination, though in very different senses.
There were a few things that I thought could be improved though. The Looking Glass Maze, for example, was supposed to be the biggest obstacle Alyss would have to face to be able to reach her full potential. The chapter of that trial felt glossed over to me, as though Beddor was in such a hurry to get to the impending war. I’m not entirely convinced of the whole “romance” between Alyss and her childhood friend Dodge either. I mean, come on. Normally, a ten-year-old boy’s and a seven-year-old girl’s only thoughts when dancing would be “Eww, COOTIES!”, not “D’aww, she smells nice, too bad I can’t marry her.” There was also the fact that most of the characters were too black and white for my taste, in the sense that good is good and evil is evil. I would’ve appreciated a bit of gray area, a little more depth.
The story had a very graphic-novel feel to it, which is always a good thing for me. Plus, I’m a HUGE sucker for remakes of stories from my childhood. So yeah, despite its flaws, I still found Looking Glass Wars a worthy read.
Check out the trilogy’s official site here.