Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper

I received a copy through the LOP Read 2 Review group.
First Impression: Alice in Wonderland adaptation? Quirky-looking girl drinking tea on the cover? Yes please!
Characters: Alice Mae is fabulous – I would say she carries the book although her counterpart Ryley seems to be the main protagonist. This reimagining of the famous Alice Liddell is almost as backwards as the Mad Hatter himself. With random wit and phrases I dare say Sarah J. Pepper’s young Alice is better than the original.
Ryley is a 17-year-old from a family with secrets. I found him grow more likeable as the story progressed, and the twist on his character at the end is priceless.
The Queen ‘Hearts’ and her minions are perfectly evil, while the Mad Hatter seems relatively sane this go-round. I think the only depiction I didn’t care for was ‘Chez’ the Cheshire cat. He was just too ordinary.
World Building: Wonderland is wonderful and confusing as always. The travel between worlds is still the rabbit hole, and most of those details haven’t much changed. I appreciate the basics staying the same when it comes to beloved stories.
Writing Style: This is reading at a YA level with hints at PG-13 adult fiction. I appreciate that nothing outright sexual happens – it never sits right with me when teen characters are getting busy. Alice Mae and Ryley have excellent chemistry, and their relationship builds in a way that makes sense. I think my favorite part of this story was the dialogue exchange and subsequent relationship building.
What I liked: The story flowed easily, and I didn’t have to suspend too much disbelief for that to happen. Having read far too many adaptations of Wonderland, I greatly enjoyed not having to follow too many rabbit trails. The ending was positively justified. I was left with that warm feeling in my stomach – as it should be in a fairytale.
Deal Benders:  In my opinion, Death of the Mad Hatter would benefit from focusing more as either YA or adult fiction. I say this in the sense of audience – it felt like the author was trying too hard to make the main characters grow up exponentially over the course of two years.
Overall Rating: I gave this story 4 stars because I really enjoyed it, although there was room for improvement. I would definitely read more from this author.
For Fans Of: The original Alice in Wonderland, Gregory Maguire
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