Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)Author: Gena Showalter
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles
Publication: October 5th 2012
Publisher:Mira Ink
Paperback, 368 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but Alice in Zombieland has very little to do with Lewis Carroll’s classic. In fact, aside from the title itself and the white rabbit-shaped cloud that warns our Ali of danger, there’s nothing connecting the two. As someone who stays as far away from retellings as possible, I was overjoyed when I discovered this, but if you go into this expecting a new version of that story, you might find yourself disappointed.

Alice in Zombieland is, above all, a fun little book suitable for younger audience. While there are plenty of hot scenes and sexual references in there to contradict what I just wrote, the overall story lacks enough substance and depth to satisfy a more mature reader. This is mostly due to formulaic narrative and stock characters. That’s not to say, however, that this book is not worth reading – it is, as it has several things going for it, but it’s not nearly as original or exciting as I’d hoped.

The story is all too familiar: Ali’s entire family dies in a car accident caused by her schizophrenic father who was trying to save them from invisible monsters. After the tragedy, Ali goes to live with her grandparents, where she soon discovers that her father wasn’t nearly as crazy as he sounded. Monsters start popping up everywhere, but with them comes a group of young people led by the scorching hot Cole Holland, all of them trained to kill the zombies and defend humanity.

Although I liked Cole well enough, he didn’t even come close to provoking the reaction Showalter was going for. All the ingredients were there: the initial rudeness, the mystery surrounding him, the incredibly attractive looks, overprotectiveness, strength and impressive fighting skills, but I just never felt truly enthralled by him, not for a split second. It’s probably because, as a love interest, he seemed just a bit too plastic. Take this quote for example:

I knew he was strong, determined, protective, and that he cared about his friends more than he cared about himself. He obeyed no rules but his own. In the Wild West days, he would have been an outlaw.

It’s true, Cole is all those things, which makes him exactly like hundreds of other characters that showed up recently. I’ve seen authors work with this mold and still manage to create something unique, be it through the sense of humor or something else entirely. But Showalter just didn’t succeed in making Cole memorable at all.

Where she failed with him, she succeeded with Alice… at least up to a point. Alice is also a stock character, but unlike with Cole, Gena Showalter managed to breathe some true spirit into her, which is why she’s the only thing I’m sure I’ll remember about this book.

Oddly enough, Showalter’s take on zombies was the most original thing about Alice in Zombieland, and my favorite part, to be honest. Existing only in the spirit realm, they cannot be seen or touched by just anyone, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do real harm. In order to fight them, Cole and the gang have to separate their spirits from their bodies, and it’s the first thing Ali had to learn as well. While I’m usually a blood-and-gore kinda gal, I found it all very interesting, although a bit confusing at times.

All in all, Alice in Zombieland is a fun, but rather unmemorable book that, I fear, was written merely to satisfy the market, and not in a creative outburst of any sort. A lot of adult authors are deciding to write YA these days because, let’s be honest, that’s where the money is, but some manage better than others, and Gena Showalter falls somewhere around the middle.

Do I think this book is worth reading? Definitely, if you’re looking for a compelling, fun read you’re likely to forget in a short while. There are times when a reader needs exactly that.


  1. I agree with your review, Maja. This was just a fun, entertaining read for me, nothing more, and that's what I liked about it. I liked Cole a little more than you did, but looking back on it, he is a little unmemorable. This whole book, in fact, falls under that category... I'm already struggling to recall the details! I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time though. :)

  2. I'm really glad that you pointed out how fluffy this book is, not that's necessarily a bad thing. I just need something more to grasp when I read a book, which is why I think I'm going to pass on this for now. It might be good to read duringa school break or on vacation.

  3. Maja I felt the exact same with you about this book. I had high hopes for it, but was a little disappointed! Cole also fell a little short of what I was hoping for! But like you said there are many readers that will enjoy it a lot more than we did! :)

  4. Great review Maja, though I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this more. I've heard great things about Cole so it's unfortunate that he didn't appeal to you. I'm hoping he's appealing to me lol.

  5. Sorry this didn't live up to your expectations, Maja. It does sound like an interesting premise, I like how the zombies are a bit different from most out there. I guess I'll save this for when I don't have much else to read, lol! :)

    I see you're reading Clockwork Angel. The second in the series had me pulling my hair out, CC loves a cliffhanger. Have fun. :)

  6. The only thing I liked about this book was the cover and her pretty dress. I don't understand the rave reviews , in fact I guess I must've missed the part when Alice sent every walking corpse back to their grave. Oh wait....that's right!? it was Cole who did that!... :/ or maybe it was just faith? Whatever; just how does forcing spirit out of body work anyways? what the hell is that called?! wtf!? I don't believe zombies have spirits for one thing and this book made me want to scratch my eyeballs with sandpaper

  7. Sorry this wasn't as good as you had hoped! I think I'll read it sometime I want a fluff filled, relaxing read.

  8. Too bad this wasn't as good as you'd anticipated... I've heard some fairly 'eh' comments about this in general. May have to try it someday down the road regardless. :)

  9. Maja, I was just lamenting to myself today morning that I hadn't read a review of yours in awhile (your reviews have an addictive quality about them, did you know that?) but I came home and what did I find on my Blogger Dashboard? THIS! :D Still, I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you dear, but from all the mixed reviews I've read of it, I can't say I'm too surprised. Alice in Wonderland has never been a favorite of mine - in fact, I don't even like it - so I knew I wouldn't pick this one up, but from what you've said, it seems to lack a lot of essential qualities too. I hope you find a fairy tale re-telling of this novel that works out for you, Maja! I know Splintered is another Alice in Wonderland re-telling most reviewers are excited about...I, on the other hand, am reading Heart's Blood by Julliet Marillier right now, which is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, and loving it, so if you're interested in that, you should definitely check it out!(: (I just started it and TECHNICALLY I'm supposed to be reading my ARCs, but I'm loving it SO much...and I'm only on Chapter 2!) Another simply gorgeous review, Maja! :)

  10. I'm of conflicting opinions on retellings. On the one hand, when they're done well I really like them. I do think it's hard to do a really good retelling. Fairy tale retellings are my favorite simply because the original tales are so short and bare-boned that authors can stay faithful to the originals while also adding in a lot more details and aspects that make it their own. In this case, the story sounds so different that it's probably a good thing that Gena Showalter did not try to adhere to the traditional story much at all. It sounds vaguely interesting, but if it really is a fun but forgettable read then that's not something I'm too eager to read myself.

  11. I have a mixed reaction to re-tellings myself. If I've loved the original tale then I don't like to have it altered. But if it's something only vaguely familiar I'm all for a well written newer version.
    I haven't read Gena Showalter before. Though I admit I am curious to grab this book only because it's showing up everywhere. (Note to self: Do not give in to hype. again)
    But I perked up at the idea of disassociating the spirit from the body & fighting. That is cool and original. I will check it out, just not immediately.
    New to your blog, glad I discovered it :)
    Addie @ That READioactive Book Blog

  12. I remember reading this book and going like "will anything ever happen?" I totally agreed with you review whole-heartedly. It's kind of scary. Still, I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

    Angie @YA Novelties

  13. Well crap! This book is either hit or miss and I have been dying to read it, but due to the pile it won't happen for awhile. I like though that at least there is an orginial take on zombies that makes it worth reading. Too bad Cole doesn't do the trick....oh well.

  14. I've been reading such mixed reviews of this book and to be honest it never really appealed to me because I'm not a fan of zombies but finding out that they're only in the spirit world does sound quite unique!

    You're right about adult authors, it seems like more and more of them are turning to YA, for different reasons ;)

  15. Awwww, I'm sorry that you didn't quite enjoyed this book, Maja! While I did really enjoy Alice in Zombieland, the story does sound a bit familiar. However, I absolutely agree that Gena's take on zombies are unique and absolutely memorable throughout the story.

    Awesome review, Maja! ♥

  16. I've heard a lot about this Cole guy and about how different the zombies are in this novel.I'm really looking forward to this one and now I know what to expect!

    Great review

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  17. I've heard the zombies are really unique and only Ali and her dad could see them. I didn't realize they existed on another plane and that she has to fight them in a spirit realm. Sucks that there isn't more depth but I'm all for a fun and fast read. I feel like I am tired of the mysterious bad boy and that they are pretty cookie cutter in all books lately. I can hopefully still enjoy the story.

  18. I was so looking forward to this one.. but the reviews it's getting make me hold back. Frankly, I don't think I have the time for a purely commercial book right now, where characters are not deep enough, unique enough to make the experience worth my while.

    That said, the cover is gorgeous, and I think that zombie thing is original. Probably that's the world beyond the mirror!

    I'll probably check this out if it falls in my lap, but not actively try to get it. Thanks for another great review, Maja!

  19. Oh, Maja, I'm SO with you one the zombies! I've seen a LOT of people complaing they're not 'real' zombies, but this was one of my favorite aspects. I thought it was creepy and original and frightening -- the idea of never knowing if you're safe or not. BRILLIANT.

    WONDERFUL review. I had MANY problems with this book, so I'm kind of glad to see such a balanced review -- good with the bad ♥

  20. I've been all about the zombie books lately, you & those other GR ladies corrupted me with your intriguing reviews that compelled me to read these gory stories! I wasn't such a fan of Alice though. I absolutely LOVE the cover but I was exceptionally underwhelmed by the story. I think you're right, this may be a book more for younger readers.


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