Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Genre: Fiction, young adult, zombies, horror, romance, remind me again what this has to do with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Summary: Alice Bell’s father is terrified of monsters hurting his family. As a result, Alice isn’t allowed out at night, and she’s certainly not allowed to walk near any cemeteries. But when her entire family dies in a horrific accident, she learns the hard way that her father may not be as crazy as she thought he was. Starring: a love interest with a hard muscular chest, a best friend with dialogue straight out of a Diablo Cody script, a cast of peripheral characters with terrible names and Alice, who is so attractive that everyone wants to have sex with her. Not starring: anything to do with Alice in Wonderland except a rabbit shaped cloud.
Once again I have gotten overly excited about an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and yet again I have thrown my money at something that merely seeks to profit off the renewed popularity of the books rather than pay homage to the little girl in a strange new world. It happened with the Tim Burton movie, the YA novel Splintered and it’s happened yet again with Alice in Zombieland. (Not to be confused with the awesome Threadless shirt or the book of the same name by Nickolas Cook of which I couldn’t make it through more than a page of.)
Despite obviously being marketed to fans of Wonderland (see the gorgeous cover if you need a reason why I jumped to this conclusion) there isn’t much of anything to connect the novel to Lewis Carroll’s world except the book title and the chapter names, which aren’t even that good on their own: Down the Zombie Hole, The Pool of Blood and Tears, Eerily Curiouser and Curiouser…, Advice from a Dying Caterpillar, and A Fiendishly Mad Tea Party.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the main character is named Alice and she keeps seeing a cloud in the shape of a white rabbit. Seriously, I would have rather been pandered to than abused for my love of all things Alice.
If this book is full of anything, it’s a whole lot of misogyny, but the author writes it off as totally okay because the men in Alice’s life are just trying to protect her from zombies. Invisible zombies who can’t be touched except in the spirit world. First, there’s Alice’s alcoholic father, who doesn’t let the three women in his life outside of the house at night because he’s worried they’ll be taken away by monsters. To him, women are treated as fragile possessions that must be kept under lock and key at all times. All because his own father was killed by monsters while visiting his wife’s grave. In the middle of the night.
Then there’s Alice’s love interest Cole, who seems to suffer from all the same problems but is totally smoking hot and is rumored to be the leader of a gang who always appears in school covered in strange bruises. Despite being warned that “he’ll break your heart-and maybe your face!” Ali still seems drawn to the mysterious Cole, his violet eyes and his propensity for dragging her around and ordering her around. Because women really shouldn’t be trusted to walk alone by themselves when they’re such delicate snow flakes. Now put on these booty shorts so I can teach you to defend yourself you powerless baby maker! <– This is a real thing that happened.
Author Gena Showalter seems to try to counter-balance these overbearing male figures by having Alice rebel against them, but in the end she constantly gives in and her message of girl power is destroyed just as fleetingly as it briefly showed up to try and not make her look like the opposite of a Spice Girls song. Especially when Alice, who briefly manages to kick some ass decides to call for a “big strong man” to rescue her.
It also doesn’t help that Ali is constantly running into Cole by literally running into Cole. Or rather, running into his hard, masculine chest. An event which happens around six times (and one time with a tree). I wish I had been tallying up sooner for a more accurate number that will make you realize just how contrived the romance I had to read about really is.
In addition to horrible male role models with terrible names, we also get some adult figures with equally stilted dialogue who don’t seem to be able to function in an adult world. There’s Alice’s mother who after Alice finally kisses a boy imagines her mother saying to her, “Gross. Did he slip you the tongue?” her teacher who tells our protagonist, “Excuses are merely the topping of an E.coli-infested sundae,” Alice’s grandparents asking her if a party she plans to attend has naked ping-pong and her grandfather interrogating her date and killing any hope of this book being credible by saying, “I’ll move on since baby boy can’t take the heat.”
Then there’s our heroine, Alice, who changes her name to Ali after a horrible accident kills her family. Because nothing says mentally adjusted like demanding your surviving relatives refer to you by a different name. She is also inexplicably sad that since her baby sister died she will never be able to talk to her about sex when it came time to discuss the birds and the bees.
While not entirely her fault as a character, but rather the way those around her are written, Ali suffers from Bella Swan syndrome. She arrives in a new school, is immediately taken under the wing of a popular clique, every boy falls madly in love with her and her smoking hot bod and she manages to draw the attention of the hottest and most mysterious boy in the school who she eventually compares to an in inescapable drug addiction. Not. Romantic.
And let’s not forget the revolving cast of characters with horrible names like: Wren, Poppy, Reeve, Frosty, Bronx and Mackenzie Love, who like to go clubbing and dress in mini-skirts, corset tops and shirts that are so v-necked they stop at their navels. I couldn’t make this nonsense up if I tried.
To add onto all the terrible I’ve already mentioned, there’s the zombie plot to contend with. As the author so helpfully mentioned in her dedication to God (who assisted in finishing this novel) the plot seems to revolve around her faith. As a result, the zombies don’t eat brains but rather eat the goodness out of decent Christians. Because as zombies they can scent fear. No, not sense. Or smell. We are literally told they can SCENT FEAR! Which is not the proper verb usage for that word.
Anyway, back to the worst zombies to ever zombie. If someone is bitten while fighting the incorporeal undead, they get stricken with Antriputrefactive Syndrome which as you most likely assumed from the terrible name is a 100% false disease. A disease which turns your insides into “toxic sludge” and makes your spirit reanimate in zombie form. Or rather, turns you into Jesus: the original mutant (because he could turn water into wine) who eventually rose from the dead on Easter to feast on the flesh of the living.
Thanks Harlequin Teen, way to perpetuate the stereotypes that you can’t produce anything of literary merit. Keep on keeping on.
-Occasionally entertaining (note the occasionally)
-Good premise with a completely flawed execution
-Love the cover, but don’t judge the book by it
-Teen language unrealistic, stilted and painful to read
-Adult language even more unrealistic and painful to read
-No one runs into that many hard, masculine chests by accident
-Ali suffers from Bella Swan syndrome, in that she’s a giant Mary Sue
-Romanticizes dating bad boys who may abuse you mentally and physically
If none of the horrors I’ve just imparted bother you, then make sure to stick around for the sequel, the not as intriguing and poorly named, Through the Zombie Glass: The White Rabbit Chronicles #2. In which Ali Bell finds herself once again slaying zombies with the added bonus of hearing more voices in her head and being frightened of mirrors that come to life. Inspired by but having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Zombie Jesus, take the wheel.