I came across a review of this book on Yellow, Green and Read All Over. I love retellings and this one instantly caught my attention. This is not only a retelling of Alice in Wonderland but a retelling that integrates a number of stories from Snow White and Robin Hood to Peter Pan and Pinocchio. While it had some small story-telling issues I really enjoyed the story and the way all the stories worked together with each other.
Alice makes it out of Wonderland and back home. She tries hard to hold onto the memories she had from Wonderland. She is put in a mental hospital and diagnosed with Schizophrenia. She is given medication and all her time in Wonderland become nothing but imagination. She constantly has to remind herself that what she saw and did was not real that it as all in her mind and that she had to live in reality. This becomes the main theme of the book. The White Rabbit comes back to retrieve Alice in order for her to help save Wonderland. The Ace of Spades has taken over and is removing the wonder from everyone in Wonderland. He is trying to make Wonderland match Alice’s real world, devoid of imagination and wonder.
Alice returned home and her family forced her to forget the wonder she found inside Wonderland. She is forced to grow up and grow up quickly. This theme intrigued me. This idea of removing wonder from the world hit close to home for me. We have this way of seeing the world. We believe that at a certain age imagination and wonder are no longer appropriate. We have to grow up they say and we have to put “childish,” things behind us. But we then lose the ability to see the world with new eyes. We become focused on seeing the world with certain rigidity and reality. The wonder gets lost somewhere because we believe we are not supposed to look at the world that way anymore.
There is a quote in the book that really seems to sum up the theme and thought of the story well.
“You lose your wonder by learning things? That doesn’t make sense,” I said [Alice].
“You lose your wonder, because when this information is so forcefully imparted, it creates its own rigidity. There is only the information provided. The ability to question, the mere thought that there exists knowledge outside of what is imparted, the ability to wonder, is destroyed. The mind cannot handle such force-fully-imposed data, and it has no choice but to surrender or be destroyed. Doubt, curiosity, questioning, these are lost in the wave of unbreakable logic.” (Hammons, 162).
When Alice returns to her own world after her first trip to Wonderland she is forced to see the wold in one manner. She is told that what the doctors and her parents say is what is right and true and anything else is nothing but imagination and not real. She is no longer allowed to wonder.
She returns to Wonderland and she sees what happens when you take all the wonder out of a world. It becomes dull and monochrome. Alice quickly learns that she has to wonder again. She has to see that the things that she believed impossible are happening in front of her. She has to trust her eyes and her heart.
Alice begins to fight for Wonderland and many keep asking her why she is fighting for this world that is not her own. She can leave and go back to her old life but she refuses. These people do not deserve to have to live this way.
She begins to remember what is means to imagine and wonder about the world around you and she refuses to walk away from it. It is important to see the world with fresh eyes and a new way of looking at things. She will not let Wonderland fall into the way her life was at one point. She knows being forced into one way of seeing the world takes something out of life. You can’t grow and the world around you can’t move forward if everyone only sees things one way. Alice brings back Wonderland and she brings back the ability to wonder to herself as well.
The story was fun with a few story issues. There was some clunky dialogue that I felt was out of place and had no real point to the story. And the story very much follows a systematic formula. Encountering one person, solving their problem they join the party and move on until the final battle. It was a little formulaic but the characters and the storyline kept my interest. I loved the way the characters were integrated into the story. All the fairytales characters had distinct personalities that were fresh and interesting.