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Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars

January 27, 2008

12. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (2004)
The Looking Glass Wars, Book 1

Length: 384 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 25 January 2008
Finished: 27 January 2008

Summary: A retelling of Alice in Wonderland, with the pretense that Wonderland is real, and that one Mr. Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carrol) tamed the story down and turned it into a silly children’s book. Alyss Heart, heir to the throne of Wonderland, is having her seventh birthday party when her banished Aunt Redd returns, killing Alyss’s parents and seizing control. Alyss must flee for her life, winding up in our world, where she becomes Alice Liddell and forces herself to forget her previous life. However, Wonderland is slowly deteriorating under Redd’s power, which is resisted only by a band of rebels, who must wait for Alyss to return, realize her full power, and reclaim the throne from her evil aunt.

Review: This book tries to do for Alice in Wonderland what Wicked did for The Wizard of Oz: remove the children’s-story-fairy-tale aspects and make it into a real world. However, Wicked (more or less) succeeded at that whereas this book just… did not. The Looking Glass Wars suffered from exceedingly shallow characterizations, an overly facile resolution, a lack of a driving message, and an overabundance of “pointless imagination”. There’s a fine line to walk in the retelling of classic stories between changing not enough (boring, no point in doing a cover version that’s the same as the original) and too much (risks tampering with parts that are good or essential). This book gleefully ignores that line as it goes skipping past; elements of Wonderland are changed, updated, and added seemingly just because they sounded cool, certainly not because they add anything to the plot.

This book kind of reads like it was written as a movie script – lots of fights and chases and explosions and pretty CGI effects in the background, while the more complex issues and emotions were quickly glossed over. I thought Alice’s time spent in our world and her relationship with Dodge were the two most interesting (and mature) bits of the book, but whenever they started to get interesting, it’d cut back to another explosion. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this optioned for a movie, and I’d probably go to see it, but in book form, it was lacking the complexity and depth (even considering that it was a YA novel) to really make it worthwhile. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Interesting idea and plenty of potential, but faulty execution. A quick read, but not one I’d really recommend if you’re looking for anything beyond some Wonderland-themed fight scenes.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Casondra permalink
    November 21, 2008 8:08 pm

    i feel that this review is bulls***. all frank beddor really did was give this old fairy tale a more modern feel which happens with a lot of stories. nothing ever really stays the same in the telling and retelling of a story. people like to add their own twists and i for one feel that this book was fantastic i couldnt put it down.

  2. Ashanti Lyking permalink
    April 26, 2009 7:42 pm

    I have to say that when i was 11 i read the book and thought it was great so much action so i think the person that wrote this review has very good taste

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  1. The Looking Glass Wars « A Chain of Letters

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