Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Merit Press (April 18, 2015)
Rating: 3 stars
Sixteen-year-old Alice just can’t find a way to be free. Her parents are environmental activists, whose cringe-worthy public protests might involve chaining themselves to a fence and pleading with passersby to “Save the World. Save Alice!” It’s not that Alice doesn’t believe there’s work to be done. But after a petition to start a farmer’s market meets with more snickers than signatures, she figures she should shut up instead of speaking out. At least, that is, until she can find something that feels real. Then along comes Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens. Charismatic Whitney leads Alice on a rabbit trail into the underground–aka secret society–of Wonderland High. Curiouser and curiouser.
Alice is in wonderland! Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, with them, Alice is finally free to be herself. She stomps on her good girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress the new group: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz, a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will turn Alice’s world backwards. But then, one of the young vigilantes tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, and she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury screaming, “Off with her head!”
Retellings are a hit or miss for me and Alice in Wonderland High is a miss. This particular retelling was mostly boring and I felt myself pushing to get through. On top of that I found it to be a tad bit too preachy for my taste. I’m all about preserving the Earth and the beautiful animals and whatnot but I don’t need a lecture telling me how to do it.
Pretty much Alice in Wonderland High is about a girl who desperately (in my opinion) wants to fit in so bad and prove herself, that she doesn’t care who she hurts or gives a hoot about the consequences that can happen from breaking all the rules. As I was reading this I was like girl it’s not that serious. You don’t need to be a part of something just to feel special. But this is high school so I guess…..you know it’s the norm to want to be like by all your peers and whatnot. Also, I couldn’t get behind the insta-love between Alice and Chess. Well I can’t get behind any insta-love for that matter. I think the romance between the Alice and Chess would have been better if it was developed more and possible slowed down instead of rush.
Another problem I had with the book was that sometimes I was confused by the dialog. I don’t know if it’s just me or if this was done on purpose. It was a bit trippy and that is one reason why I couldn’t really get into this book. Although I shouldn’t be surprise since Alice in Wonderland was trippy when I was a kid. You ever read the original or watched the movie?
Trippy…..in a drug induced sort of way.
With that being said, I may not have liked it but you may. Author Rachel Shane has talent. I can’t take that away from her. It’s just that this retelling wasn’t for me. Not all retellings will be for everybody. There are a plethora of quirky over the top characters that’s sure to grab your attention and may this a fun and delightful read.
So if you like retellings with an environmental twist I highly recommend Alice in Wonderland High.
SIDENOTE: I received an arc copy from the author as a part of the Sunday Street Team. Thank you Nori and Rachel Shane.
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Rachel Shane studied Creative Writing at Syracuse University and now works in digital publishing at in New York City. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and a basement full of books. This is her first novel.