Anyway, I picked The Looking Glass Wars up on Tuesday and finally got the chance to read it Saturday while I proctored the SAT. I could not put the book down!
Beddor does a very good job of setting up the story. After thinking about it, I don't think I ever read Lewis Carroll's Alice, so I really don't 1) have a base of knowledge of his vision of Wonderland and 2) have any idea why I like these retellings so much. :/
So back to the story. Apparently I'm having a hard time keeping focus today. We open with Alyss in Wonderland on her 7th birthday. In this version of Wonderland, imagination is key to being a good queen. We are introduced to White Imagination (the good, pure kind) and Black Imagination (the bad kind). Alyss simply has to think something and it happens. In the first couple of chapters, Alyss' father, King Nolan is killed, Redd, the ousted princess, crashes the birthday party, Alyss' mother is killed, and Alyss has to escape through the Pool of Tears to save her life. Hatter Madigan is charged with protecting Alyss. Oh, Hatter isn't some mad character. He's a fighting machine. Lewis Carroll got it ALL wrong. And Beddor makes sure we all know that. :-)
In the Pool of Tears, Hatter and Alyss are separated. Alyss is deposited in London and is immediately taken in by a gang of orphans. Hatter is deposited in Paris and is immediately taken in by a gang of angry people and put before a judge. Hatter escapes and roams the world looking for Alyss so he can take her back to Wonderland.
In this version, there is a boy. Dodge Anders. He was Alyss' playmate growing up and is three years older than she is. He tried to protect her when Redd stormed the castle.
There is also the White Rabbit, but he is actually Alyss' tutor and his real name is Babwit Harte. Carroll REALLY messed that one up.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I like that we see how badly Lewis Carroll butchered Wonderland. I think almost every vision of Wonderland since his has been much more grotesque and I like the gritty Wonderland. The only thing I am not a fan of (and this is true in most fantasy YA novels) is how Alyss suddenly becomes empowered and powerful after being timid and unsure for so long. I get that it was always there, just waiting to come out, but maybe a little more of a believable method would be a better way to show her transition.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Wonderland, especially those who liked Splintered and Tim Burton's vision of Wonderland.