The Looking Glass Wars

 
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The *real* Alice in Wonderland
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Alexandra

Surely you know the story of Alice in Wonderland. But you probably know the Lewis Carroll version -- or worse, the Disney version -- of the story. Both of those are fiction, fact gone wrong. Here's the truth: Alyss Heart, Princess of Wonderland, has to flee her world from her evil Aunt Redd. Until then, her world had been perfect. Then, at age seven, it was torn apart. Lost in Victorian London, in a strange new world, she has to create a new life for herself. No one believes in Wonderland. No one even believes in the spelling of her name! Only Reverend Charles Dodgson, her new neighbor, is interested in her story. He promises to tell the world her truth. Instead, he feeds them a pack of lies, under an alias no less. If it weren't for Alyss's faithful bodyguard's, Hatter Madigan, search for her, she may have been forever immortalized as a girl who ran away from a book with no pictures. However, Alyss ran away from a real problem, one she wasn't able to fix. Once back in Wonderland, she must figure out how to overthrow Redd and restor Wonderland to its former glory. This book spins an elaborate world as realistic as our own, and takes a childhood story to a whole new level. Alyss is an empathetic heroine you will be cheering for from start to finish.
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Great Retelling of a Classic Story
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Jocelyn

This book has popped up everywhere. I've seen it all over the place! For some reason, however, I haven't been too enthusiastic about reading it. I'm not sure why; it's the "true" story of Lewis Carroll's famous Alice In Wonderland, and I usually really like classic stories retold. But this one...it just didn't spark my interest. Then, I got an ARC in the mail, and figured, why not?, and read it.

Wow, am I ever glad I did! I absolutely loved this book. It kept my attention (and the final page count is over 350 pages--it's pretty long!) all the way through. I didn't just keep reading; I was completely absorbed. Every time I had to go do something else, I'd race through it as quickly as possible, just to get back to The Looking Glass Wars.

This is the story of Alyss Heart (Lewis Carrol, the horrid man, even misspelled her name!), the heir to the throne of the great queendom of Wonderland. All seems well on the morning of the princess' seventh birthday; she wishes her father could be there to celebrate with her, but he's hurrying back, and the queendom is celebrating in honor of Alyss.

Quickly, things go horribly, horribly wrong. Alyss' murderous, insane aunt Redd, long since exiled and passed over for the throne, chooses that morning to overthrow Alyss' mother, Queen Genevieve, and take control of Wonderland for herself. Genevieve is beheaded, Alyss' father murdered as well, and everyone loyal to them is dead or hunted by Redd's soldiers or her loyal, deadly assassin, the Cat.

Alyss herself flees through the Pool of Tears, a portal to a parallel world, with Hatter Madigan, her mother's bodyguard. However, the two are separated, and while Hatter Madigan ends up in France, searching for his charge, Alyss herself ends up in Victorian England, where she joins a ragtag group of homeless children. She uses her talents at imagining things into being to make money so the group can eat well, but, the longer she is away from Wonderland, her imagination grows weaker and weaker.

Eventually, she is taken off of the streets and adopted by the wealthy Liddell family. There, she is Alice Liddell, and Wonderland a children's story. Even the man she thought believed her, the Reverand Charles Dodgson, writes a book (under the name Lewis Carroll) that horribly distorts her story. He makes light of her story, turning her tragedy into an amusing children's tale.

Back in Wonderland, the Alyssians, naming themselves after the princess whom they believe is dead, rebel against Redd's rule. Alyss' childhood friend Dodge Anders, her old tutor, and various others stay hidden in the forest, an active resistance against Redd. However, the evil queen grows stronger all the time, and they aren't sure they can beat her alone.

All hope is not lost; Alyss is not, as they believe, dead. They find out she is alive and well in England...But is she still the same person, heir to the throne of Wonderland, the one who can lead them against Redd? Or is she now completely and totally lost, to the character that is Alice Liddell?

Frank Beddor has created a brilliant, absorbing story. Sure, the pacing seems a little off; important things are rushed through sometimes, and unimportant things dragged on. And I did notice some awkwardness with the dialogue. Some of the characters should have been more fleshed-out as well.

With all of that going against it, what makes The Looking Glass Wars so amazing? That, while reading it, none of that seems to matter. This story goes beyond all of those little details, sucking you in completely from beginning to end. Even with those flaws, it still left me desperate for more of the story (thankfully, it'll be part of a trilogy).
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Engaging Retelling
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by mimagirl

I went into this novel - "the true story of Alice in Wonderland" - rather uneasily, just having finished re-reading the original Alice in Wonderland.

The author uses almost all of the elements/characters from Alice, yet somehow quite amazingly manages to give this story a unique and original feel of its own. This version tells the tale of Alyss Heart, heir to the throne of Wonderland, as she faces life in "our" world after the invasion of her Aunt Redd. Darkly thrilling adventures ensue and keep you turning page after page, dying to know what will happen next.

There were certain moments in this book that somehow reminded me of The Scarlet Pimpernel (which, by the way, if you haven't read, you must). Especially the scene at the masquerade ball . . . loved that scene! The world created was very vivid and well-fleshed - you could almost picture each scene playing through your head like a movie. Both the plot and characters were complex and interesting.

I enjoyed this book very much, and in no way did it ruin my views of or love for Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass. Those books will always be better, and they will always be classics, lasting much longer than this "retelling". But for an intriguing, interesting fantasy, The Looking Glass Wars was very engaging and worthwhile . . . just read the original first!
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The REAL Story Behind Alice in Wonderland
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Stephanie

You thought you knew the story of Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland& well, think again. Frank Beddor brings an exciting new glimpse into the much darker world of Wonderlandia, full of intrigue, mystery, dark magic, treason, and rebellion.

Princess Alyss Heart is 7 years old when her aunt Redd leads a rebellion to overthrow her parents queendom over Wonderlandia. Black Imagination reigns, and followers of White Imagination must struggle to hide and survive or else be destroyed. The royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan, he with the famous top hat weapon, is charged with protecting Alyss in the world that lies beyond the Pool of Tears, but the two lose each other in the chaos.

Alyss, parents murdered, all friends lost, ends up in mid-19th-century London, where she is placed in an orphanage and then adopted by the well-meaning Lidells, who change her name and hush her ravings about the fantastic, magical world of Wonderlandia, until even Alice herself does not believe in her imagination.

On her wedding day, however, the now 20-year-old Alice Lidells world is suddenly turned upside down yet again, when phantoms from her past bring her back into Wonderlandia, into the midst of a war to kill her and end the Hearts right to the throne forever. Alyss meets up with all her old friends, including Dodge Anders, the guard who had been more than just a best friend, who was so scarred by the events of that fateful uprising day that he has allowed hate and revenge to feed him for years and years. In between relearning how to use her potent imagination, fighting off Redds armies, and then ultimately defeating Redd and reclaiming the throne for herself, Alyss must also try to reconnect with herself, her past, and the changed Dodge, in the hopes that their sacrifices of the past and present will make for a brighter, safer tomorrow in Wonderlandia.

Anyone who enjoys high fantasy and excellent retellings of classics will enjoy THE LOOKING GLASS WARS trilogy, of which this is the first. The action is fast-paced, the characters intriguing, the story and plot unique and mesmerizing. I am looking forward to reading this books sequel, SEEING REDD!
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What a Cool Idea!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by KitKat

What an original idea! It was the premise that hooked me - the writing style was only average.

See, Alice has grown up in our world, in disguise - she's secretly Alyss Heart, queen of Wonderland. Wonderland isn't so wonderful, though - the robot "card soldiers" are on the prowl for Alyss and her friends as they race against time to... well, I can't give away the ending!

As I mentioned, the writing was only OK, but the book was a nice length and the premise really captured my imagination!
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Alyss, Princess of Wonderland
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Lexie

I have never been interested in Lewis Carroll's books, Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I saw the
Disney movie, as I'm sure most kids in my peer group had, but the movie
didn't make me want to read the books. When I grew older and went
looking for books to read I picked up both books, gave them a look
through and decided they weren't for me. The story just was too
outlandish for me (which is saying something considering my reading
tastes). I was fascinated by the Disney Channel show (Adventures in Wonderland),
but that show was so very different from other shows of the time
(Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as hip hop artists for instance) that it
was hard not to be interested I think.

Upon meeting the author
at this past New York Comic Con however, I have revised my opinion
slightly and read both books (to compare). Still not interested in the
original novels, but it gave me a better appreciation of The Looking
Glass Wars!

Princess Alyss Heart suffers quite a bit--though not
so much physically, but more mentally and emotionally. Its
understandable that she would want to fit in, after being so cruelly
mocked for years and her one vindication--the book--just making matters
worse, I don't blame her. Equally though I was relieved to see her not
play the priss for too long once things settle back to normalcy. It
would have been heartily annoying to have her go from such a lively,
spirited young girl to a spoiled, bratty whiner.

Beddor
certainly did his best to alter each familiar character with just the
right twist so as to make you wonder how you ever saw them otherwise.
Hatter Madigan for instance--or rather the Mad Hatter or Bibwit
Harte--the White Rabbit or even Redd. Oh Redd. I really enjoyed her
theatrics--so vicious, so petty, so imperfect, I loved her despite
being the 'evil' of the book. I rather less enjoyed the Cat, her
half-feline/half-human assassin (the Cheschire Cat). The Cheschire Cat
was the only character of the original novel I liked even a little bit.
The Catepillar definately stayed the same--right down to his
nonsensical, stuffy and obnoxious ways.

The story moves at a
quick pace, alternating event viewpoints from Alyss' adventures, to
Hatter Madigan's search for her, to Redd's tyrannical rule and some
time is spent on Dodge Anders (Alyss' childhood friend) and Jack of
Diamonds (a worm of a boy who plays both sides) so we get a very well
rounded view of things. We never see Redd alone, but then such a
paranoid personage as herself wouldn't trust to be alone (who knows
what her subordinates are scheming if she isn't there to watch?).

The
end sets up for the next book, obviously as this is a trilogy, but is
satisfactory in tying up the loose ends that could be tied up and
giving us a glimpse of things to come.

(reprinted with author's permission)


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Good (never great) but always a fun ride
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Misty (Book Rat)

The Looking Glass Wars is an alternate history retelling of Lewis
Carrolls Alices Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
books. Beddor reimagines the childrens classic as non-fiction: Alyss
Hart, a Wonderlander, comes to Earth in a time of crisis (her evil aunt
Redd has attacked Wonderland in her quest to become the Queen of
Hearts), and she finds herself in a far different reality. On Earth,
she is just a young girl with no allies and a fading Imagination. When
she is adopted by the Liddell family, and comes across the young deacon
Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) she thinks she has found a
sympathetic soul. She tells him her story -- which he then publishes in
the drastically altered tale that we know. Disheartened, Alyss (now
Alice) tries to adjust to life on Earth and forget about Wonderland.
But all is not right in Wonderland, and the two worlds Alyss knows are
about to collide.


For much of this book, I was fairly
indifferent. It came highly recommended by a number of friends, and I
am completely smitten with the Alice story and will read/watch*
anything having to do with the insanely fabulous world Carroll created.
So I really wanted to love this, and at times I did. But for much of
the book (probably the first ½ or so), I just didnt. I felt Beddor
struggled to find the tone he wanted; it waffled back and forth between
an imitation of Carrolls light, irreverent style, and a more current,
action-drama feel. Also, with attention divided between the two worlds,
Wonderland and Earth, it never felt like either got the attention it
deserved, and I never got to really live in either and experience it,
which was disappointing. But there were moments when I got what I
wanted, when the worlds became real and the action was compelling, and
the tension was high and I was in it. I just wanted that to be more
consistent.
Eventually, the book did find a middle path and start to
come together, and I will say that I saw enough in it to like that I
will certainly keep reading, and do not really regret spending the
money on it. I am not saying this is not a good book, just that I
wanted more, and didnt quite get it.

More can be found on Book Rat, but it gets spoilery.  Full review is here:
http://bookrat-misty.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-looking-glass-wars-frank-beddor.html


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