18 August 2010

Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook. 

The Truth: Wonderland is real.  Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss' parents.  To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears.

But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated.  Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life.  Yet he gets the story all wrong.

Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.
In a nutshell: Fantastic idea, horribly executed.

The writing did nothing for it.  I almost never start on an author's writing style but in this case, it was a significant factor in how I viewed the book.  The style described too much in the wrong cases, not enough with the right ones.  There was also a lot of telling rather than showing.  The short, almost inconsiderate descriptions of the character's feelings made it seem false.  I couldn't get a grasp on the characters at all.

This was an absolutely brilliant idea.  If it had been executed differently, this could have risen to Harry Potter status--or at least, it would have had the potential to.  The idea was fresh, new and incredible.  It just...never took off the ground for me.  I found myself skipping pages and I would still know exactly what was going on.

Writing aside, nothing anchored me to the characters.  Even if you hate a character, that means that there was enough given that you're CAPABLE of hating them.  It means that they were put through situations and were complete and total idiots and did a million things wrong and you hate their guts for it.  But at least you have the proof.  When you can't even cast an opinion on a character...oooh, well, that just goes to show that you weren't shown much.  But Dodge and Alyss had such incredible potential!  I just wish they were shown better.  I could have really come to love them as characters.  Same goes for the antagonist.  Redd was downright creepy at first, but she quickly lost credibility.

The dialog required much-needed help. It was mostly in the dialog that I lost the characters.  Even with the sometimes skimpy writing, dialog can pick up the slack.  Not in this case, though.
I wrote a review for this now because I'm 95% certain that I won't be picking it up again.  If I ever have children, I would try it out on them because it's more of a read out loud kind of book.  But for readers who have a preference for more complex, lyrical writing that must be read inwardly, I don't recommend this book to you.

I gave it a 4/5 because I respect the idea so much.  Perhaps if Frank Beddor writes another series, I would take a chance on it.  Otherwise, I'm not venturing into Wonderland again.

Book Info:
  • pages - hardcover, 384
  • published - September 2006
  • publisher - Dial
  • genre - fantasy
  • rating - 4/5 stars
  • series - Looking Glass Wars
    • Looking Glass Wars
    • Seeing Redd
    • ArchEnemy