Friday, October 19, 2012

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publication.Date  September 25th 2012
Published By:  Harlequin Teen
WebsiteGena Showalter | 

Alice in Zombieland
My review copy:Advanced reader copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

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.

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!

(it's actually more of a 3,5 stars, but I liked it enough to go with 4)

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
About the Author
Evie 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.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Amy said...

I just got this from the library this week. (Not that I really have time for it, but I got it anyways with every intention on sneaking in a little here and there.) I am hoping that I like it. I love my zombie books so that is enough to make me want to read it. Great review!

SweetMarie83 said...

Great review, Evie. I'm on the fence about whether I want to read this or not. Having read several comments from people - and now your review (I hadn't read anyone else's review yet) - saying it's not like Alice in Wonderland, at least I know that going in and won't be disappointed in that way, you know? I might give it a shot eventually if my library gets it. :-)

Anna @ Literary Exploration said...

Ohhhh I'm glad to see you liked this one! I've been wanting to pick it up for awhile now, it looks awesome! Great review :)

Literary Exploration

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

This one seems to be disappointing a lot of readers! I bought it because I'm a big fan of Gena's paranormal romance series, Lords of the Underworld. I think a lot of "adult" writers are confusing popular trends in YA for good story-telling, when they delve into the YA genre. And really, they don't need to do that - they're already stellar authors. I've been disappointed in some ways lately, in that aspect. Tropes are NOT always necessary. *sighs* / end rant.

I was really, really hoping this was a re-telling, or a darker link to ALICE. That seriously disappoints me.

But it sounds like the characters are pretty fabulous, so I'm still psyched to read this one.

Unknown said...

Great review! I just bought this one so I'm excited to read it even though I've never really been huge into zombies, I did enjoy Showalter's Intertwined novel (need to finish the series...) so I'm looking forward to this one!

Laura @ The Little Pink Book Boutique

Tiffany Holme said...

I'm glad you ended up liking it. I get what you are saying about Cole but there was something about him that I just loved. Awesome revie as always :)

Deea said...

Wow, great review! I started reading this a few days ago and though I'm only halfway through it, I can totally see your point and agree with everything you said.

While I generally love Gena Showalter's writing, many aspects of the novel and, well, the story overall, some things bother me too. I didn't fell in love with Cole right away either (unlike Alice). The dynamic of their relationship is kind of unrealistic and eye-roll inducing. :)) Like you said, he didn't show many redeeming qualities at the beginning to justify Ali's instantly falling in love with him. Here's hoping it gets better though!:D

I'm waiting for those last 100 pages of awesomeness, I'm still on the fence about this one.:D

roro said...

gr8 review but ill skip it

Jaime Lester said...

While I definitely still want to read this one, when I started seeing reviews saying that it had nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland I was incredibly disappointed. I mean, zombies in Wonderland? With the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat? How freaking cool would that be. Oh well. I will absolutely read this when I get the chance, but I must say that I am glad I read reviews first. Maybe going into it knowing what NOT to expect will keep it from being a big letdown. But, I am happy to see that it at least earned and Evie 4 star rating!

gracelo said...

I've seen a lot of disappointment around for Alice, and am currently having my doubts, but I still desperately want to read it! It just sounds so good! I totally understand how a character like Cole'd be downright unbearable, and am loving Kat already! Thank you so much for the review!

Rubyblood said...

I saw this in the store!!!! I want to read it!!

Ruby // Rustled Pages said...

I love your rating system :P If you have time, could you please check out me blog (and comment or follow)?

tthepageturner said...

I wasn't a fan of this because like you said it isn't a re-telling of the classic and that was what I had been expecting and exited for. Glad you enjoyed it though, great review! ^^

Szappanbubi said...

I love your super-honest words!
I haven't read the book but I already surprised and a bit disappointed? about that the story doesn't follow its name-sister, the Real Alice O_o
But from your review I'm really curious about that super-perfect Alice and that annoying Cole- if the could be the same in mind :)
Taking it all around maybe its better- for me- using rather malvolent spirits than real zombies -I really don't like them, they always give me nightmares,brr...
thank You!

Andreea Florentina said...

The books makes me think to another kind of Alice in Wonderland, I've read a thriller based on Alice in Wonderland and the transition from a children's book to a detective novel was briliant. A transition to the zombie world is even more interesting.

Unknown said...

this book has interesting title.
want to read it immediatelly

princesshoran said...

I wasn't exactly sure if I wanted to read this book or not because to be honest it didn't look too good, but after reading your review my thoughts about it have gotten a bit higher and I think I may actually give this book a try.

Unknown said...

Aww. I'm a bit disappointed that it didn't meet the expectations I have and it's gaining mixed reviews from readers. But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Christine said...

I wasn't planning on reading this book before, but I think I might give it a try after all. Going in not with the expectation of it being a total recreation of Alice in Wonderland might allow me to accept it as a unique story, which sounds like one of the biggest issues most people encountered reading it. Not at the top of my list, but I think I'll try to get around to it. Thanks for the review!! :)

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