★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
• Alice Through Blood-Stained Glass // Dan Adams
• Published September 1st 2014 by Harper Collins
A fun, horror-style zombie retelling of Alice in Wonderland.
Alice is minding her younger sister when the Zombie apocalypse hits. She has to find safety but is thwarted at every turn - by a strange man, by two stoners. The world has gone made and she doesn't know who to trust.
Why did I read this book? Alice In Wonderland + zombies. I'm that easy.
I didn't quite get what I'd expected, though. Yes, the protagonist is named Alice and she does indeed fight zombies, as she roams a land so desolate that the rules of the world she's used to no longer apply, and she does meet a few folks with wonderfully suggestive names, such as Waistcoat or Hatter, and she does end up arousing the rage of a red Queen... but the book doesn't exactly feel like Alice In Wonderland. It doesn't even feel like a tribute, or a retelling - it feels like a coincidence. This survivalist with a handgun and a hair-trigger temper may be called Alice, but there's very little about her that feels familiar.
The book starts normally enough, with our protagonist minding her younger sister in a park when a stranger in a waistcoat runs past, informs her that all hell has broken loose in the shape of rabid zombies, and that she should, therefore, run. Alice runs. Her sister dies. She swears revenge, learns her way around guns, and the rest is your basic, run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic survival story. There's nothing particularly creative about the zombies themselves (guess how they came to be...), or the way the plot is conducted throughout the book. Alice doesn't get much character development, and neither does anyone in the supporting cast - though that still didn't stop the resident Cheshire Cat from being a highly entertaining character.
The pacing is slightly awkward at first, putting Alice through a series of "levels" where she meets a character, fights along them for a while, and then carries on alone (either because her allies keep dying, or because she keeps leaving them). This issue is fixed around halfway through, where the structure changes radically to welcome some of the previously mentioned characters into Alice's clique.
Overall, we could say I found this book flawed, heavily so, but entertaining. It'll do more for the zombie lovers than the Alice lovers, with its no-holds-barred depiction of violence and its complete lack of whimsy, though, and for that I will give it two stars. It's campy, it's fun, it's morbid, it uses zombie toddlers as weaponry and I can't blame it, but its attempted association with Lewis Carroll's Alice may be doing it more harm than good.
NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.