Book of the Week: The Looking Glass Wars

Hello everyone. I hope everyone is having a great and nerdy week. We’ve had some good news this week in that Doctor Who finally got a return date! (March 30th for those of you who missed yesterday’s post). Lots of really awesome things are coming soon. Wonder Con is the same weekend as the return of Doctor Who. Tickets went on sale this week so I’m pretty excited about all that.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping myself busy with my 200 books this year goal. Currently I’m at about 13 1/2 books but I hit a slow patch in reading as I picked up my pen (or my keyboard…) and started writing again. I was hit with some writing inspiration and I’ve been writing. Its all just one big fat sloppy mess right now but its fun to be writing while promoting the publishing of A Little Less than Famous.

However, troche I HAVE been reading a lot so I do have a Book of the Week for you this week, which means I’m getting a WHOLE lot better at my schedule, which is GOOD. That means I’m getting more responsible and that you can trust me now! Hopefully…

Anyway, this week’s Book of the Week is…

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

The Looking Glass Wars is about Alyss…Alyss, the princess of Wonderland. Spoiled and powerful in the “magic” of Imagination, she has adventures around the Heart Palace where her mother, the Queen Genevieve, rules. Genevieve’s sister, Redd, has always wanted the throne, especially after it was taken from her when she turned to Dark Imagination instead of White Imagination. On Alyss’s 7th birthday, the palace is attacked and when the queen and king are killed, Alyss is whisked off to safety by Hatter Madigan and ends up in our world, separated from Hatter. After years of telling people of her place and how she wishes to get back. Of course, no one believes her, except dear old Charles Dodgson who agrees to write a book to tell the story. This becomes Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, getting the story completely wrong. So Alyss folds inside herself, convincing herself over the years that she is Alice Lindell, and that Wonderland doesn’t exist.

Until her childhood friend, Dodge, shows up right before she’s about to marry a prince and brings her back to Wonderland. She’s the rightful queen and without her, Wonderland has become worse and worse in the hands of Redd. Alyss has to step up to the plate and deliver, but can she?

The Good or the Bad: 

I mostly liked this book. Mostly. More so than I actually thought I was going to.

For one thing, Alice in Wonderland is not really my thing. I love fairy tales and Disney and all that, and alternate fairy tales but Alice has never been one of my favorites of the bunch. Its kind of like…I feel like a lot of its popularity comes from the fact that its weird and offbeat…not the actual story or anything. Not that I hate Alice, I like her a lot. Just not one of my favorites.

I had seen this book at the bookstore and thought it looked kind of interesting.

Side Note: I hate the whole phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. I get that it has an alternate meaning and it means not to judge people they look and blah blah blah. But I totally judge a book by its cover. I mean, its the first thing you see when you go to find a new book. Then you look at the title, then the synopsis in the back and THEN you read it and judge it. But you judge whether or not you even want to give it a shot by its cover. I’m just saying. Okay. Side note over.

The cover of the book grabbed me right away because of the futuristic kind of feel it had to do it. I thought it was a dystopian type of novel. Then I read that it was an alternative tale of Alyss in Wonderland and I was intrigued. I took a picture of the cover to remind myself I was interested (this is before I discovered the BEAUTY of GoodReads) and left it at that.

I honestly didn’t remember at all until Tanya, a friend of mine, brought it up, saying she really liked the books. I trust Tanya’s opinion a lot; she’s never really steered me wrong with books so I decided to check it out. When I received a ton of money for books for Christmas, I bought the book and I just picked it up a couple days ago and read it in about a day.

And I definitely liked it. I liked the alternative view of the story to it. I liked the idea that there was a magic and purpose to the wackiness of Wonderland. It was due to the idea of “Imagination” in light and dark ways. I liked that the people of Wonderland imagined all these wonderful things, the things that we know in our world, like pogo sticks or electricity. Its fantastic.

I really liked that Redd, who basically seemed like the Queen of Hearts of the Alice story we know, was crazy…but she had a motive. There was a reason to her madness. She had powerful imagination but in a way that her parents didn’t approve and therefore the kingdom passed on to her sister instead of her. You understood why she was ordering people to lose their heads and whatnot. She just wasn’t this crazy random lady. I liked that. I appreciate alternative fairy tales that makes a villain human. Villains are human and its not very often that you have a villain who is bad just for the sake of being bad. Even Darth Vader, Voldemort, etc., there are reasons why they are the way they are. In fairy tales, villains just seem to be pissed off and evil for no reason. Not so much in this story, and it just adds more to the story.

The characters I really liked the most were the characters of Hatter Madigan and Dodge. Hatter Madigan, of course, is the Mad Hatter but he’s so much better in this story. He isn’t the crazy little man, drinking tea and singing about unbirthdays and all that. In this story, he’s the queens closest guard and is a badass warrior. His infamous hat folds to flatness and becomes a wicked weapon, with blades and everything. After he and Alyss go through the Lake of Tears, and end up in our world, and they get separated, Hatter spends THIRTEEN years going around the glone and searching for her. For YEARS. That takes some serious dedication and awesomeness for him to do that. And there was that mysteriousness to him, who did he lose? Why does he want a leave of absence before he becomes Alyss’s guard.

Then there’s Dodge. Dodge was Alyss’s childhood friend, her first love and when Redd attacks the palace, he loses his father, sees him die right before his eyes. He spends the thirteen years before Alyss returns, focused fully on his revenge. He becomes distant, angry, and kind of badass. Instead of being the rule follower he was before, he’s breaking all the rules. Every war story has to have that moody, revengeful character and that’s Dodge. I’m interested in seeing what happens next with him, how he adjusts to the new kingdom and how his and Alyss’s friendship and relationship evolve.

However, I kind of had an issue with Alyss herself. I liked her a lot in the beginning, as a child, even though she was kind of spoiled and naive. But once she came into our real world, and Dodgson kind of screwed her over, she became kind of lame. She just kind of accepts that Wonderland was never real and she just has zero personality. She agrees to marry the prince because its going to make her mother happy. But even then, she’s just empty. I supposed that could be the whole point, that she’s empty without Wonderland but she just bored me so much during that time. Even when she gets back to Wonderland, she’s just kind of …there’s just nothing. i couldn’t even describe her personality really. She seems to have the least amount of personality of anyone in the book. I thought she was kind of badass once she went into the Looking Glass Maze and become a warrior queen, and when she fights Redd, its pretty badass. She’s badass as far as fighting skills and her skills with Imagination but I hope that she develops more of a personality as the book continues.

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Have you read this book? What did you think? As always, let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Book of the Week: The Looking Glass Wars

  1. Tanya M says:

    First off, yay! And thanks for the shout out ;-)

    You definitely need to finish the trilogy. Redd is frickin hilarious, Dodge and Hatter provide some brooding-sexy-charm, and Alyss rocks. Redd is probably one of my favorite villains of all time and there are some other really great villains in book 3. BTW – Hatter has his own graphic novel series if you’re interested.

    I think the whole point of Alyss’ time in the real world was to highlight the strict rigidness of Victorian society and just how stifling it had to be to make her forget/deny Wonderland. Keep in mind she was also taken into the real world at a very young age and it is very easy to have your reality reconstructed at 7 years old. Also, in the “real” world Alyss was a product of her time and that’s what happened to young ladies in her time. In contrast her marriage to the prince was also a way to show that no matter where she was she brought this very regal vibe – even in the “real” world she would become royalty. I think it was a way to show that she did have something different about her even if she tried to ignore it.

    • whatanerdgirlsays says:

      You know, I never thought of that but you bring up a very good point. Maybe that was the point of Alice of England vs Alyss of Wonderland. It definitely makes more sense to me and endears me more to Alyss. I just started Seeing Redd so I hope to enjoy it

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