I am a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It’s just so trippy and weird and punny and clever—you might say I have something of a kinship with this book, actually. (Here, I should say that by Alice in Wonderland, I refer to the combination of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.) As such, I am inclined to check out adaptations and spin-offs. Usually, I toss them away. (Confession: I have not seen The Mad Hatter Johnny Depp in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland. Three guesses and the first two don’t count as to why.)
Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland isn’t really what you’d call an adaptation, though. It’s more of a “loosely based on the ideas of” sort of deal. Which, honestly, is quite alright with me.
Straight from the beginning, though, I think there were a lot of unnecessary events. It’s no spoiler to say that Alice’s family is killed—it’s in the blurb! I suspect making Alice lose her father, mother, and sister was a ploy to make her tougher, or to make it so she has nothing left to lose. Showalter tries, but I don’t think she does a good job of achieving either. Alice’s emotional numbness makes sense, at least, though.
Another gripe of mine is the visions Alice and the of course stunningly beautiful, bad-boy-with-a-heart Cole. As a reason to get them together, it’s pretty weak. I’m a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy, but this… not feeling it, to be honest. Both Alice and Cole feel a little flat, and, while this is common in teenage relationships, they seem to have the same fights over and over again. Given their situation, especially Alice’s desires to prove her worth, it’s understandable, but re-hashing it for the last third of the book really didn’t help.
Kat, however, I appreciate, except for how preachy she is about not swearing. It’s fine that she doesn’t do it—don’t get me wrong. It’s just how she comes off saying it in the first place. I’ll give Showalter points in that it is a very typically teenager way, however. Kat is one of her best-written characters, I think. Showalter really had me going on what I thought Kat’s secret was, only to reveal it as something completely different. Unfortunately, I think I know what Kat’s fate is (I won’t reveal it because it ties into a spoiler about Kat), especially as it ties into Alice, and it makes me a little sad.
The one thing that really stood out to me was Showalter’s concept of zombies. In Showalter’s world, zombies are not flesh-and-bone beings, but spirit beings of evil, and even “good” people can become zombies upon their spiritual death. (Another thing Showalter is good—almost too good, as it gets kind of confusing—at: blurring the line between good and evil people.) Of course, there’s some serious tension between Cole and his zombie fighters, and another group focused on not destroying zombies, but figuring out how they work and harnessing it for *ahem* the “greater good”.
There isn’t terribly much action, but then, the story is still building, as this is the first book of at least two. (From the beginning, it’s clear we’re set up for at least one sequel—is the standalone just not a thing anymore?!) I can’t say I’m completely intrigued to see where it goes—after all, Kat’s fate is the one I’m most invested in. Unless Showalter pulls out all the stops in the next book, I fear she’s going to lose a lot of readers. After all, there’s only so much Alice messing up and Kat’s zaniness and Alice and Cole getting a little hot-and-heavy people will take. (Showalter is pretty preachy on the “no sex before marriage” thing, or at least “no sex before you’re ready”. I’m still not sure which one is her ideology. I’m totally okay with the latter, but the first just seems kind of forced.)
As a young adult book, I’d give Alice in Zombieland a solid B, bordering on B+ (3.5 stars). I wouldn’t read it again for fun, but it was an entertaining read the first time around, and very unique in its treatment of zombies. Again, I’m not sure I’ll pick up any future sequels, and I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone who isn’t a YA fan. If you enjoy YA literature, however, give it a read.