The synopsis on this was amazing and sounded like a lovely mix-up of fairy tales and fun, so much so that I couldn't wait to dive right in. I was moving right along, quite enjoying this, until I started getting weirded out by the kind of ridiculous amount of guns and the sheer zaniness of having this many fairy tales wrapped together and warped so much. I was about forty percent in when I felt like it started to kind of fall apart.
Alice herself felt very much like the character grown up some should be. She remained a little loopy and a little silly. Wonderland made very little sense in its natural form, which was appropriate. My problem with Alice, however, is the sheer amount of time we spend with her without ever really getting to know her. I don't like her. I don't dislike her. I could not tell you almost anything about her even by the end of the book. She never felt like she grew, or even like she was fully fleshed-out. Retelling a story, especially when large chunks of things are being wildly changed, is not an excuse not to let the reader get to know the character, even when Alice at seven and Alice at seventeen are practically the same person in terms of maturity.
The rest of the characters certainly had interesting backstories, and my favorite part of the book was definitely seeing what twisted form each story was going to take. I didn't like all of the ones I would have expected, and I didn't dislike all of the ones I would have expected, either. This definitely had a very different slant.
The problem, however, was it felt like too much wrapped in a small package. The ideas were not bad at all, but throwing all of it together kind of made a mess and left me never able to really get to know any of the characters or handle any of the revelations properly. Again, I felt like things were not fleshed out nearly as much as they should have been to maintain my interest, and we were jumping from odd situation to odder situation so quickly there was no time for me to really care about anyone.
The sheer number of guns and gun talk in this story was kind of insane. I was not expecting it, and I was not expecting weirdly specific explanations of how to fire a gun and how important they are for defense. It felt out of place (even in a story that is kind of about being out of place and full of very out of place characters) and weirdly preachy, honestly. Perhaps it was supposed to be suggestive of something wrong on Wonderland's part (and it did succeed in that), but the heroes were a bit gung-ho about the importance as well, and that just felt off.
The ending sort of just...happened, as well. The wrap-up was not terribly well-handled, and I'm not fully certain it really made sense that it was accepted the way it was.
In the end, I was kind of hoping for this to end, which is a shame because it had serious potential. Much as I hate the idea of the stand-alone novel being overshadowed completely by trilogies or quartets or even more, as things seem to be going lately, this is something that may very well have benefitted from the extra room to handle plot and characterization. It might have been enough to turn it from "okay" into at least "good" or perhaps even "great".
This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.