Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac

Today is another buddy review with Nymeth from the blog things mean a lot. Instead of the question method we have employed in the past, we have decided to try something new and talk about the book like a conversation is being carried on. This is the first half and you can read the second half on Nymeth's blog.

So, from our conversation on Twitter I think I can assume we felt similarly about Wonderland: we both fell in love with the art, but not with the story. One of my main problems was the main character, Mary Ann: in Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit mentions her briefly as his maid, and Kovac picked on that and decided to make her the protagonist of this story. Sadly, I didn't think she was much of a protagonist. She doesn't do much; she just has things happen to her. And I get that she's a maid, but did she have to be so...eager to obey? And so obsessed with cleaning? How did you feel about her?

Kelly: Mary Ann drove me crazy! There is no other way to word it. I know she is a maid, but you don't have to obsessed with cleaning to be one. She would be cleaning everything and making more of a mess; because almost every time she felt she HAD to clean something terrible would happen. It was just a bit too predictable. And, just because she was a maid it didn't mean she had to be subservient in every aspect of her life. It didn't matter who was telling her something, she was right there to do whatever it was. If she had any moments of having a backbone it was because someone told her that she should. So, if you hated the main character, why did you keep reading? You could have just looked at the pictures!

Ana: Exactly - it was the subservience that drove me crazy. And ha, good question :P I think I kept reading because this was Wonderland, and I love Wonderland. Despite my problems with Mary Ann as a protagonist, I think Kovac did a very good job recapturing the world Lewis Carroll created - the strangeness, the humour, the nonsense, the language, all the familiar characters. Many of my favourite fantasies have in common the fact that they almost convince me that the world they're set in continues to exist after I close the book, and I'm invariably left wanting to return to it. Wonderland was like a tour of Carroll's world, and I appreciated it for that alone. What about you? What kept you reading?
Kelly: The familiarity. In many ways I grew up on Lewis Carroll. There was a Disney movie, a television show that used to play on the Disney channel, and then, of course, there are the books! I am always ashamed to admit that while I love the idea of the books, I have never actually enjoyed them. For some reason, though, I keep trying to figure it all out. I actually liked Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (which is a retelling) better than the actual classic editions. So, for that reason, I knew I had to try this one. Just like with the original Alice in Wonderland, I loved the idea of this book. Kovac has a lot of fun with the world, just like Carroll did. Otherwise, I would just look at the pictures! For Carroll, though, I was always fascinated with his life. The pictures are great in this book, but for reading I recommend the graphic novel Alice in Sunderland. I learned so much from reading that book.

Ana: So did I! I absolutely loved Alice in Sunderland. And it's funny, I never quite thought of Neverwhere as a retelling! I can see the parallels with Alice, of course, but I never quite made the connection. I guess it's because the rabbit hole/closet/door that leads you to another world has become such a common fantasy trope. Anyway, since we'd discussing this, I thought I'd ask you how you generally feel about works that use a world someone else created as a point of departure - Wicked, for example, or The Looking Glass Wars (which is also based on Alice).
Kelly: Oh, good question! It's unfortunate that you picked two books as examples that I was not huge fans of, but generally I do enjoy this type of book. For Wicked, I loved the idea of the book, but I cannot stand the way that Gregory Maguire writes! The Frank Beddor novels were fun, but nothing that I have to read again. As a general rule, I enjoy re-tellings of any nature. Not just the use of a world, but characters, too. And, if anyone wants to say that they don't, you should really think about it because nowadays there are many more retellings than are advertised that way. It is its own little subgenre and it grows daily! (Especially with Cinderella re-tellings). What about you?

Head on over to Nymeth's blog to see the rest of the review!


  1. Okay, mine's up only half an hour late. Not too bad :P Thanks again, Kelly! I really had fun doing this.

  2. So I learned something new about Neverwhere. I haven't read Neverwhere, but then again, I haven't read the original Alice in Wonderland either (plan to do that for mybook club in January). Now, if I do decide to read Neverwhere, I'll know how to reference.

  3. I truly enjoyed the interaction between you two. I hate Wicked...wanted to burn it when I was done with it. I may have to read this one for the kicks!

  4. What a great idea! I love re-tellings but it takes a special kind of writer to make you love one. I tried reading Wicked before but gave up after a few pages. I don't think Maguire is the author for me.

  5. Love the format of this review!! Sorry to hear that y'all weren't crazy about the book, but the art does look great..may try it anyway ;)

  6. I really need to read Alice in Sunderland... and Neverwhere. Sigh. Too many books, too little time.

  7. You guys had me cracking up when you were talking about the maid!!!

    I agree that Alice in Sunderland was awesome. :D

    I grew up w/ Wonderland too-I just got some sheer-ish white tights, and they totally make me think of Alice! (And I'd love to be Alice for Halloween one year! I've been hunting for light blue dress forever now, lol)

  8. Nymeth: I am glad the timing worked out!

    Amanda: I think I might the Alice in Wonderland connection back when I read it because of Carl... He read it just before me. Not sure if I would've made it otherwise, or not. Hard to say at this point. You really need to read it, though!

    Staci: Yeah, I know what you mean about Wicked. Believe me!

    Vasilly: I don't think Maguire is for me either which has always made me really sad to be honest.

    Chris: The art was fantastic! Totally worth looking at for that reason!

    Melissa: Yes, you do! Both great books!

    Eva: Being Alice for Halloween would be great! I have the wrong colour hair...

  9. Sorry the story doesn't live up to the art (which looks amazing by the way). Neverwhere was a retelling? Where in the world was I at when that happened lol? I tried Neverwhere and got about to that group of people eating the cat and gave up on it at that time always meaning to go back. That said, I really will have to go back now because I've always just adored anything that is remotely related to Wonderland. Retellings are some of my favorite books :)

  10. Tink: The art is fantastic! I considered Neverwhere a retelling... Was I the only one that thought that...


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.