Alice / Christina Henry / 291 pgs / Fantasy, Horror, Adult
A life filled with tea parties, cake, a white rabbit. And blood. When all that’s left in Alice’s life but four cold walls and a mass murderer her only friend, there’s no point in remembering why she got there and would probably prefer not to. But when her life is turned upside down as a black beast escapes, leaving a thick trail of blood behind it, she must except reality and face who she is. Can she clear her mind, which has been fogged from drugs for so long, and can she trust Hatcher, her only friend who remembers nothing but killing? It’s a long way down the rabbit hole before anything becomes clear…
This… was not what I expected. I knew it would be dark, but there was a lot of intense stuff in this, I’m not quite sure what to think….
LANGUAGE: To be honest, I don’t recall much language, which is nice, considering everything else in this book. There is room for mistake, I went through this book pretty fast and I was distracted by a lot of stuff, so there’s a good chance I just missed it, but even if I missed words, we’re just talking about your average everyday language (d word, h words, etc..)
VIOLENCE: This was pretty intense… But I guess it could have been worse. This book is definitely not for children, and even pushing it for young teenagers. There’s blood in every chapter, whether it’s made by Hatch and Alice or they just come upon it, there’s always something violent. The worst would be the Walrus who is said to rape women and eat them while he does this. You never see him do it, but you see the bodies afterward, which is pretty awful.
OTHER: There is a lot of hints to rape, and for sure a lot of prostitution. This is a major element in this story, so if you are bothered by these sort of topics, DO NOT read this. Now, you never actually read a scene of rape, it’s mostly flash backs or people talking about it. There is a near rape scene in the beginning of the book, but it is interrupted. As for the prostitution, that was a pretty bad scene. It was at the Caterpillar’s place, a bunch of naked girls with strapped on butterfly wings on their backs dancing around for men. Now, considering this situation, it was not explicit. They describe them naked, but that’s pretty much how it’s described, so it could be way worse, but it’s still definitely not a pleasant scene whatsoever, and if you would like warning, it starts on page 155 and goes to 158. Technically there are more women in Caterpillar’s room, but that scene is more tragic and made to show you how horrible he is, but nothing like the willing women in the previous room.
QUALITY: It wasn’t that grate. It almost appeared as if Christina Henry used the classic Alice in Wonderland as a crutch, and therefore couldn’t quite form a story of her own. It’s hard to describe, but it felt empty, it was missing too much. Her interpretation of some of the main characters, Caterpillar, Write Rabbit, and Walrus were pretty good. I was disappointed in Cheshire, which made me sad because he’s my favorite character. I mean, it was awful, bit it just didn’t quite work out.
OVERALL RATING: Well, the romance was a cliché, but I’m a sucker for clichés, so I was okay with that. However, this book was pretty poorly done. Would I read this again… probably not… I will read the second book, but I most likely won’t buy it. It was okay, but it just didn’t work out right, the story was flat. Now, there was a lot of references to women being used as “toys”. I feel that was the message here, to realize how awful women are treated and how people pretend not to notice. However, everything felt so forced, nothing felt very real.
Sorry the “Quick Summary” wasn’t very quick, there was just so much in the book I believed you needed to know first… Either way, if you find you’re not interested in the book after reading that, don’t keep reading thinking you’ll find a reason in the longer descriptions, because it’s pretty much the same thing, just more specific.
It was nice that despite all that’s in this book, there wasn’t much language, if any at all. You don’t need language, despite what people think, there is nothing you can tell me to convince me you need language. Now, I leave room for error, I was reading so fast and distracted so often that there is definitely a possibility I missed words. However, it would probably just be the basic words, d word h word and things like that.
Before talking about the VIOLENCE and OTHER, let me say this. This book has a lot of violence and rape: however, it’s not graphic. It’s making you aware of what is occurring and how terrible things are, but not in a way that is descriptively explicit. It’s still sad and upsetting to read, it’s just not graphic.
This was a really intense part of the book, if it were a movie it would be R. I’m afraid it would take too long to lay out all the violent scenes, so I’ll just give it to you in brief descriptions.
One of the main characters, Hatcher, is a murder, and loves to chop heads of (I always had to wonder if it was a play on the Red Queen…). Alice has constant flashbacks to stabbing through flesh, there are scenes of areas being described covered in blood and bodies. There is a scene were a bunny eats a man (I know, sounds bizarre, but I don’t want to give anything away). There are characters described to have had their bones broken and distorted, but you don’t actually see the braking, they just describe the condition they’re in, which is pretty sad.
This pretty much sums up the violences, it’s just constant scenes of blood and chopping. There is a whole other aspect of violence in here that I’m going to explain in OTHER.
There is a lot of reference to rape in the book. Alice herself has flashbacks to being raped. It comes in quite early in the book too, after Alice is with Hatcher she is attacked (not by Hatcher), but it is interrupted, so you don’t necessarily get the whole awful act. Prostitution is also pretty strong, there is a building they go to full of naked women. (I left the page numbers in the Quick Summary) That’s just how they’re described though, naked. There are no graphic descriptions of their appearance or of the acts they are doing. You are made aware of it all, but it’s more like getting you to realize just how awful the place is without necessarily having to get the terrible descriptions. For the most part, that’s how all the rape and prostitution is mentioned throughout the book, it’s awful, but it’s pretty much left to your imagination.
This isn’t really a spoiler, but there is a character who is described to eat women while they are violated. You never read a scene like this, it’s only mentioned; however, there is a scene described where you see the bodies that are left. Again, not graphically described, but definitely terrible.
I’ve read books and have known instantly that the writing was poor. In Alice, I wouldn’t say that was the case. I’m not certain it’s the actual writing that’s the issue, but the story. It feels very empty. As I stated in the Quick Summary, it feels as though she used the original story (Alice in Wonderland) as a crutch and just filled in some blanks. Her take on some of the characters was quite fascinating, but most of the time it sort of felt as if she was just putting things in for the sake of it feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Now, I’m not saying this book is so poorly written don’t read it, this is just the impression I got. I still enjoyed it.
This is probably going to sound harsh, but this book is full of cliches, so it’s more a book to read and have fun with. It’s hard to say to have fun with it though, because there is no way to read a book full of rape and have fun, regardless of whether it’s written poorly.
The ending also felt anticlimactic. This would probably just be how I felt (am I still scarred after Miss Peregrine?), but they really made such a big deal of the White Rabbit and the Jabberwocky, bit when it came down to it, it just… felt rushed. It was too easy the way it happened, I mean, that’s just not how easily things are handled. Sometimes they can be, but when you draw something out so much, you need to give your reading at least something that comes close to being as such.
Ya, if you read my good reads you’ll see I gave this two stars. I really struggled between giving it two or three, and decided to go with two. I enjoyed the book, to a certain degree. But it left me feeling like I missed a part of the book, or there were aspects that just left me feeling uncertain. Now, there is a book two, so that could be a little something to do with it, but there is a difference between adding suspense for the next book, and just missing the point all together.
For the big question, should you read it? Well, probably not. The story was lacking, the ending was lacking, and there were parts that felt staged in some ways. Also, the romance was cliché, but I LOVE cliches, so I really can’t complain with that. This book appeared to make all my cliché dreams come true, but that’s not really a good thing to say about a book… You don’t want clichés… So! If you enjoy cliché and don’t mind the topic of rape, than you’re okay.
Which leads me to why I kept reading this. I’m sure there are people I know who are reading this review and are saying “Why would you read something like this..” and you’re right, it was pretty messed up. I feel that, however, Christina Henry was trying to tell us the horrors that women go through instead of just being vulgar. Despite whether it makes us uncomfortable or not, rape is real, and it doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men too. It’s a terrible act of violence that occurs all over the world all the time, and we wish it could just stop. It happens though, and here I believe Christina Henry is just making it aware to us.
However, she didn’t do a very good job, because at the same time it feels as if she put it in there just to put some drama. You can’t write about rape from the perspective of someone who was unless you have experience it yourself (I don’t presume to know what the writer has or hasn’t experience, I’m basing this off of what the writing feels like, and it feels like she hasn’t). It’s messed up when people write about terrible experiences in life when they haven’t ever experienced it themselves, because it insults those who have. So even though it wasn’t as graphic as it could have been (which I appreciate her for that) it still wasn’t appropriate.