Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Review: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

After Alice
When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”
I have to be honest, I was less than impressed with the quality of some of the writing here.  While Maguire had his clever moments, I felt like he also had quite a few moments of reaching for a cleverness that he couldn't quite grasp.  There were a lot of moments where I felt like the writing became obtrusive - instead of thinking about the story or enjoying the word play, I was very conscious of what the author was trying to do.

This could equally be considered an issue with entertainment value, but I felt like a second critique with the writing was the lack of a reason for the existence of the story to begin with.  There's a vague plot - Ada has to find Alice and return her to the real world, where her sister searches for her in a parallel plot.  But when the end of the story is reached, nothing new has been added to the Alice story.  There's nothing here to make the story richer or more interesting or valuable and the writing doesn't provide enough to justify its existence on its own.

Entertainment Value
There are some redemptive aspects here.  I enjoyed the reappearance of familiar Wonderland faces and the author's creation of new Wonderland characters.  For large portions of the book I was entertained and the pages turned quickly.  But there were also portions that moved slowly.  And as I mentioned above, I found myself wondering what the point was when I finished.  Why did the author write it and what did this story add to the original?  I'm going to be honest and say I'm just not really sure.

This one just wasn't a hit for me.  It had its good moments, but overall I didn't find it to be especially compelling or particularly well written.  And when I finished I was disappointed in the overall plot and what it added (or didn't add) to the story as a whole.  I would recommend it to fans of the author or maybe to those who just have to read anything related to the original tale, but not to many outside of those circles.

Thank you to TLC for having me on the tour!  Click here to see a list of the other stops on the tour!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.