“‘Alice is missing.’ A sigh, a clink of porcelain on porcelain. ‘Again?'”
So fair warning, Goodreads has informed me that my positive review of this book may not be a popular opinion and as such if you make reading decisions based on reviews I recommend reading a few different takes on this book before committing.
Ada is a compatriot of the famous Alice, who is briefly mentioned in Alice in Wonderland. Ada is quite the opposite of Alice, however. Where Alice’s head was always in the clouds, Ada’s feet are firmly rooted to the ground where she considers life with a discerning, scientific eye. While I love Alice, I may be more of an Ada. There is one other major difference between the two girls, Ada is sick and requires a metal cage on her spine to hold her upright and help her walk.
Shortly after Alice falls down the rabbit hole, Ada follows suit, unbeknownst to the former. Then, Ada chases her friend all over Wonderland, always one step After Alice.
I enjoy Gregory Maguire’s books partially because I love how he makes his fairytale retellings to really be for adults, but mostly I just respect his skill as an author. Each adaptation of Maguire’s is written as an homage to the writing style of the original story. Therefore, those that are only interested in this story because of a passing interest in Wonderland are unlikely to appreciate it fully. To those of you who, like myself, read Lewis Carroll’s original writing and loved it…this may be worth a try.
It was wonderful to see some of the classic scenes and characters again from mysterious doors and things to eat, to talking rose bushes, oysters, the white queen and a mad tea party.
I love that Maguire stayed true to the feeling of craziness in Wonderland while including some of his own new twists and locations. This kept us readers from being tired of too similar a story.
In addition to Ada, we also get to see what was going on at home while Alice was missing including a meeting with Charles Darwin. As much as I loved the historic accuracy and the Darwin shout out, there was too much of this side plot in the storyline. I wanted MOAR WONDERLAND…and these subplots took away from that.
To clarify, I am a HUGE Alice in Wonderland fan. Books, movies, tattoos, art, handbags, I love it all and as such I was really hoping for Ada’s story to be the same level of epic as Wicked, but all about exploring Wonderland. I didn’t get that. I do appreciate what Maguire gave us, however. Like I said before, this was a very true to feel of Alice’s original adventures and I loved knowing more about our favorite creature the Jabberwocky.
The best part about this book really is Ada. Getting to see Wonderland from the point of view of a more critical mind was really the key to the success of this novel for me. Ada is fun and adventurous, but mature in a way that Alice simply is not. That juxtaposition is what really moved this story and made it new and fresh.
Overall, I think I rate it a 4/5 but I may be such a critic that I don’t know if I could be completely satisfied with a new Wonderland story even if it was of epic proportions.
Main Character 5/5
Side Characters 4/5 – 3 for England 5 for Wonderland
Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen
“Only, sometimes, in the text of a book here and there, we tap the page with a finger and say, “This is what my lost days were like. Something like this.”