Buzzers and Buzzettes, this week I'm taking you down the rabbit hole to one of my favorite fictional locales, a magical, mind-bending place called "Wonderland." I have been a huge fan of All Things Alice ever since discovering Lewis Carroll's brilliant flights of fancy, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, in my elementary school library many moons ago, so imagine my delight when my new Twitter pal, Johnnie-Marie Howard, told me about a new YA series that's a dark, funky, super creative re-envisioning of the Alice story.
I rushed right over to Amazon, read the blurb, and purchased an e-copy of Splintered by A.G. Howard. That's right, people, I didn't even sample the book first. I was so beguiled by the blurb and the gorgeous cover art that I took a leap of faith and I was so glad I did! Splintered grabbed me on the first page and held me in its thrall for the entire weekend. Household chores, friends, family, my own writing - all of it was forgotten so that I could keep reading about Alyssa Gardner, the skateboarding, blue hair extension-wearing teen whose great-great-great grandmother, Alice Liddell, was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's books. Alyssa has a lot to deal with - her mother's locked up in an insane asylum, her secret crush, the hottie-next-door, is dating the mean girl who's been picking on her since they were kids, and oh yeah, she can hear the voices of insects and flowers, which probably means she's going crazy.
How Alyssa and the aforementioned hottie, Jeb, end up in Wonderland and what strange, shocking, perception-skewing things happen to them while they're there I won't share with you because I want you to enjoy the amazing journey this book will take you on. What I will divulge are a few of the reasons why I loved this book so much. 1) Alyssa is a wonderful (ha ha) protagonist, smart, brave, pro-active, and wise beyond her years while still being realistically vulnerable and confused. She's a heroine a reader can root for. 2) The author did an incredible job of taking elements and characters from the original tales and putting her own imaginative, twisted spin on them. Her creativity knows no bounds, and I am in awe of her world-building and storytelling skills. 3) Unlike most of the weak, unbalanced love triangles I've come across in YA books, the three-sided romantic configuration in this book is incredibly compelling and I found myself changing my mind about who Alyssa should be with from chapter to chapter - Jeb, the sexy artist with the troubled past who's always been there for Alyssa, or Morpheus, her seductive, infuriatingly engimatic guide to Wonderland whom Alyssa finds herself drawn to even though she doesn't trust him.
I'm going to stop gushing about this book now, but I want everyone to read it and tell me what you think! If you don't normally delve into the YA genre, don't let that scare you off. This book is one that I think readers of all ages will enjoy; the themes of love, loss, sacrifice, and self-discovery are just as relevant to adults as they are to teens. P.S. The second book in this series, Unhinged, will be out on January 7, 2014. The cover art is, once again, stunning. Kudos to Maria T. Middleton.
Now that you all know what an Alice enthusiast I am, it should come as no surprise to you that the new fall TV show I am most looking forward to is Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Original Recipe Once is one of my fave shows; it's a fabulous hybrid of fairy tale, fantasy, mystery, and family drama and I think the creators have done a brilliant job with the show. So, I was thrilled to hear that they were going to tackle Wonderland and its inhabitants. The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts have already appeared on Once, and I loved the show's interpretation of those characters. But the new Wonderland is going to be focusing on Alice, a young woman in what looks to be Victorian Era London who's languishing in an asylum because no one believes her tales of the fantastical realm she visited and the unusual creatures she encountered there.
While she was in Wonderland, this Alice met and fell in love with a genie named Cyrus (I am already crushing on Peter Gadiot, the actor playing this role, based on the trailer and his interviews from Comic-Con.) and she is devastated over his loss. When the Knave of Hearts shows up and gives Alice hope that her beloved is still alive, she's off on another adventure, which promises to be a blast for viewers. The cast of this show is stellar - in addition to exciting newbies Peter, Sophie Lowe (Alice), and Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts), acting greats John Lithgow (The White Rabbit) and Naveen Andrews (Jafar) will be on hand. I think this show is going to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and be a big hit. So, be sure to tune in for the premiere on Thursday, October 10th on ABC.
On the subject of Once, there's been some big casting news for the mother show. JoAnna Garcia Swisher is in as everyone's favorite mermaid, Ariel, and Kiwi actress Rose McIver will be playing Tinkerbell. I think both ladies will be perfect in their respective roles, and I can't wait to see what Once has planned for their characters. Might I suggest that the rascally Captain Hook make a love connection with one of them? I was 'shipping Hook and Emma early last season, but now that her baby daddy, Neal/Baelfire, is back, I have zero interest in seeing a love triangle with Emma being torn between bad boy Hook and her first love, Neal. There's just no way Hook can ever win that one and seeing him get dumped on would be no fun at all. Hook is at his best when he's being flirty, so I say, pair him up with the singing fish or the sassy fairy and let's see what happens. I think Hook's best bet would be Tink since she's always been a bit naughty and knows how to devote herself to a man (Rumor has it that Once's Peter Pan will be a malevolent 17 y/o, so that should keep him out of the running for Tink's heart.) Rose and Colin O'Donoghue look good together, don't they?
A special treat for my fellow Hookers - a deleted scene from S2 in which Hook tries to make time with Red:
I'm going to end this fantasy edition of The Banister Buzz by inviting you all to join me for a virtual party at Alice's Tea Cup - hats not optional. Doesn't this place look amazing? The next time I visit New York City, I am so dropping in on this little eatery and having a croque monsieur, along with a pot of Earl Grey Extra Fancy.
As always, thanks for reading. I heart comments, so let me know if you've read any good YA books lately, what obsessions you've carried over from childhood, who you think would be the perfect mate for that scallywag Captain Hook, or what kind of tea and scones you'd like to be served at our little get-together.