by Gena Showalter
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I wish…yeah, I wish.
Well, there was a lot of good in this story…..and there was also some bad. I didn’t need the Alice In Wonderland references to be obvious or even close to the original telling. Truth be told, I didn’t care for AIW as a child, but I still find it fascinating when an author chooses to re-vamp an old fairy tale (was that really a fairy tale? It was so creepy) so I chose to give this one a go on the recommendation of my brilliant British friend :P.
One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything I knew and loved was gone.
I think it needs to be said up front that there was hardly an association with AIW, it was more of an inspiration for this story. The girl’s name is Alice, though she likes to be called Ali for short, and the chapter titles are things like ‘Off with her head!’ Now, that was plenty awesome for me-see, that was just a fun little poke at what we all knew and….liked, and it was a great way to direct the story in the way it needed to veer. As someone in another review that I read stated, I started to see the characters emerge as their inspirations near the end-i.e. the Queen of Hearts and all her little cards (soldiers, you know what I mean). It was fuzzy, and had I not read that random review I might not have noticed, but it was there-even if it was merely a glimpse.
I glanced at the rabbit. The round thing in its hands now had hands of its own-clock hands, tick, tick, ticking away. It had come to warn me, I realized. Not about a car wreck, but about the zombies. The time had come; they were here.
Alice loves her family dearly. She has her normal mom, her super awesome sister, and her crazy, neurotic, non-existent zombie-seeing father. They all respect him, but think he is nutso-I mean, you can’t see anything, so why is he always acting so shifty? Then one night, Alice spots a rabbit shaped cloud and she points it out to her sister as they ooh and ahh….then that fateful night, after seeing the rabbit cloud (See it? See the reference?), they have a horrible crash after her father spots ‘zombies’…and Alice sees them too-but its too late.
“It’s too late now,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry, Alice, so very sorry. He’ll be coming for you.”
Fast forward and Ali is living in a world with no color-it was her fault that she bribed them all to go out after dark for her sister’s first ever recital, it’s her fault she used her birthday as a bargaining tool….or so she thinks. She has been living with this guilt all summer, and then she has to start at a new high school at the end of the break and everything changes.
As a story, this started out so strongly. She meets Kat, the queen bee with the ‘in-crowd’ socialite friends and the aptitude for talking a mile a minute…and then she sees a boy with violet eyes leaning against a locker and they can’t stop staring at each other-he with a fierce snarl and she with mesmerized doe-eyes…but it’s not what you think. It scarcely ever is. He is the bad-boy leader with a pack of loyal bro’s (and I suppose ho’s as well), and they are always in fights, always causing problems, always have bruises and…always disappearing?
“In my defense, I’ve lost a lot of friends doing this, and you look so fragile. So…breakable. Forgive me.” His voice dipped low, became a mere rasp. “Please. I love that you ask a thousand questions a day, and I don’t know what I’ll do if you’re not around.”
What I normally would have dubbed ‘cheesy dialogue’ came off as cute, refreshing, and hilarious as Kat and Ali would banter back and forth and she would take on everyone that pissed her off-namely, her ex-boyfriend (and loyal cronie for Cole), Frosty. Lol-nice nicknames, I guess. I liked the way they interacted and I found that it would bring a smile to my face when Kat would enter the picture-both her and Ali had a way of talking that just cracked me up and, while some would say that is not how real people talk, reminded me of how me and my friends are or would be. It was cute, funny, and easy to relate to-albeit different, for sure.
I wasn’t offended. I liked her honesty. “What should I have said?”
She batted her lashes at me and lowered her voice to a smoky rasp. “Cole, you big strong manimal. I know the boogeyman thinks you’ll jump out of his closet, but I think you’re-Hey, are you listening to our private conversation, Marcus?” she ended in a shout. “Yeah, that’s right. Run.”
And Cole, I realllyyyy enjoyed Cole. I thought it was heading in a great direction with him, and it did, it really did, but I wanted…more. Like, no it wasn’t even insta-love or even drug out, it was just placed in the middle and kind of stagnant for a bit. The beginning and end with him were great-I just would have liked to get a little more emotional depth from his side throughout the story. Otherwise, I loved his character. He was sweet, protective, bossy….I did love his character (what was I thinking?) but I just didn’t love how their relationship progressed and I wanted more of his character development.
“You look beautiful, by the way,” he said, stunning me.
Pretty words meant to soften his “for now”, I’m sure. “I thought I looked tired.”
“In my plain white button-up meant for winter? Doubtful.”
“I don’t mean your clothes. It’s you.” He sifted strands of my hair through his fingers, tickling my scalp. “There’s something about you. Something that sets you apart from everyone else.”
And finally, the age-old faux pas of telling, not showing. Or even maybe withholding information-I don’t know-but what I DO know, is that I would have liked a liiiittlllee more here and there-this author definitely didn’t do it a ton, but every once in a while I was like ‘Come oooonn, a little MORE, please!’
Surely I’m not the only one who takes “don’t look now” as “there’s no better time than now.” I looked.
“Bad, Ali!” Another slap to my arm. “Bad, bad, bad, Ali! Have you no self-control?”
So, all in all, I really enjoyed this story. I am excited for book two and can’t wait to see more from Cole and Kat, my two favorite characters. More than once I saw myself in Kat or in Ali, their mannerisms seeping snark, overexaggerations, and trailed off thoughts….. (:P) So, I will leave it at that-this is something I would rec if you want a fun, quick ride with not much thought involved-it flows easily enough and leaves room for much more fun to happen……..I can’t wait to read book two.