Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Publication.Date September 25th 2012 Pages: 404 Published By: Harlequin Teen | Website Gena Showalter |
Alice in Zombieland My review copy: Advanced reader copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
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 wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.(Goodreads)
Only a single beat of silence this time. Then he uttered one word. Just one. But that one word forever changed my life, as feared. "Zombies".
“He was gorgeous, and I absolutely, no question, had to be drooling. After a quick and hopefully stealthy check – big show, I wasn’t!- I found myself wonder what color his eyes were. Brown maybe. Or even hazel. Either way…wow, just wow. Deer? Headlights? Hi, I’m Ali.”
“Of course.” She fluffed her hair. “I don’t want to brag, but I’m very high
“Uh, I think low maintenance is what’s desirable.”
“Low maintenance is what’s forgettable. You might want to write that down, underline it, circle it and put a star by it. It’s golden.” With barely a breath,
she added, “Now let’s find out if we’re compatible, shall we?”
I'm on the fence with this book. Some aspects of it I genuinely enjoyed, some I didn't like at all, but overall I can say that it was a good book. Entertaining, quite unique, extremely well-written and addictive, it's a fresh new take on the zombie lore, but one that is more likely to appeal to fans of paranormal romance than a typical horror reader.
It's probably best to begin by clarifying that Alice in Zombieland has very little to do with Lewis Carrol's classic. It's not a retelling, it's not even loosely based around the original tale. It's an entirely different story, and the only things these two books have in common is the similar title, the name of the lead heroine and the white rabbit theme. I must say that this alone was a little bit of a let down. I did expect to see a darker, more sinister and twisted version of Alice in Wonderland. I thought it would be quirky, thrilling, perhaps a little bit gore, and definitely totally bad-ass. Well, as it turns out, if you're looking for all that, you're better off picking up Zombies Don't Cry or ZOM-B (and the last one is super, super dark and disturbing!). I won't lie, I felt just a tiny little bit cheated. And the worst part is, if not for the faked connection to Alice in Wonderland, I would've probably enjoyed this book a lot more. The storyline wasn't bad at all, the pacing was good, the intrigue was very well thought-out and quite twisty, and the ending just totally blew me away. For the most part of the book I felt that Showalter was trying too hard to mold the story into something that would be -even only remotely - resembling Alice in Wonderland. And I thought that was unnecessary. I didn't care much for the rabbit-shaped cloud, I thought it was a forced and awkward addition that was only there to draw fake parallels between the two (totally unrelated) stories. One might argue that the connection between Alice in Zombieland and Alice in Wonderland is a more metaphorical one, and the car accident that claimed the lives of Ali's family members and threw her right in the middle of a zombie-infested world was similar to Alice's falling into the rabbit hole. Two girls, two bizarre and scary worlds. But then again, we could probably say the same thing about practically every other heroine from a YA paranormal story. Aren't they all launched on crazy adventures at one point or another? For me, the connection was just a little bit too weak and unconvincing. The last hundred pages is when the real action happens, when this story finally breaks away from the chains of being Alice in Wonderland-look-alike and morphs into something truly fabulous, heart-pounding and jaw-dropping.
Showalter's zombies are not your usual flesh-devouring, brainless zombies that roam around the town aimlessly in hope of stumbling across something (someone?) to chew on. They're infected spirits, malevolent souls that - denied eternal rest - are drawn to the light of the living people that can see them. And not everyone can see them. More over, only a certain group of people can actually fight them. See, fighting the evil spirits is more complicated than killing "normal", made-of-flesh zombies. To kill a spirit, you have to enter the spirit realm, which means disconnecting your soul from the body. I thought that was an interesting concept, though I'm not entirely sure why we have to categorize these spirits as zombies. Maybe I'm just a classical munch-on-your-brain-and-slowly-mope-around zombie kind of gal, but Gena Showalter's zombies were just not zombie enough for me. They were too clean, too neat and too ghost-like. I would have been perfectly happy calling them malevolent spirits instead.
That is not to say that I did not enjoy this book. I did, and quite a lot at that. Once I got past the things that bothered me - and thankfully there weren't many and they weren't big enough to prevent my enjoyment of the story - I actually had a lot of fun following Ali's adventures. As I mentioned before, I especially loved the last hundred-or-so pages of this book when all the juicy and exciting things happen, secrets are revealed and your heart starts pounding real fast. I thought the conclusion of this book was totally mind-blowing, and I really hope Gena Showalter will keep this awesomeness up in the next book!
I liked most of the vibrant and interesting characters in this book, with the exception of Cole. Sadly, I wasn't a big fan of his childish and pushy personality. He refused to explain anything to Ali, even though he was well aware of the fact that her ignorance would put her in danger. He didn't want to get romantically involved with her (at least at the beginning), but he couldn't stand seeing her happy with another boy, either. He was possessive, short-tempered, ill-mannered, and controlling. Personally, I didn't find him hot at all. I do like bad-boys, but only if they possess some sort of redeeming qualities and a genuinely good personality that's just temporarily hidden underneath the mask of an overly-confident, tough boy. And while Cole might still show us his more tender and caring side in the next books, for now I decided to keep a healthy distance from him. The way he behaved in the first part of the book - constantly snapping at Ali, instructing her what to do, shutting her out but not letting her move on, and more often than not being plain rude and unpleasant - that just smelled too much like a certain sparkly vampire to me (or Travis from Beautiful Disaster, if you will). And I really hope he'll show us a different, more positive side of his character in the next instalment of the series.
While I generally liked Ali, I certainly did not care for her instant attraction to Cole. I did not like the dynamics of their relationship, I thought they were unhealthy to say the least. Overall, though, I thought Ali was a very authentic and convincing character, and I definitely enjoyed following her adventures. The first-person narrative offered a really good insight into her thoughts and feelings, and allowed me to understand the motives behind her actions. She was quick-witted, quite clever, brave, determined and bold. She was not easily scared, either. In fact, most of the time she would adapt to new situations and surroundings with surprising ease.
Kat, on the other hand, was just pure awesome. She burst into Ali's life like a tornado and, despite her many personal problems, was always cheerful, full of energy and confident. A little bit over-the-top at times, but in a good way. I loved her, I thought she made a great friend and a phenomenal supporting character. I'd go as far as to say that she was one of the most - if not the most - complex characters in this book. There's so much more to her than meets the eye!
My favourite thing about this book? Gena Showalter's excellent writing style. Her prose is straightforward, direct, honest and dynamic. At times it's more lyrical, sensual and dreamy. At times it packs a strong punch. Her descriptions are vivid and precise, her insights surprisingly accurate. It's all too easy to lose yourself in the world she created, and it's practically impossible to put the book down mid-way. The pacing is perfect, the plot moves along smoothly. It's just.. an overall fantastic reading experience.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book - some parts more than others, but overall I thought it was a great, furiously entertaining and thoroughly captivating read. Alice in Zombieland was my first book by Gena Showalter, but it certainly won't be the last one. I can't wait to read the next instalment of The White Rabbit Chronicles and see where Showalter will take us next!
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.