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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

TITLE: Alice in Zombieland    
SERIES: White Rabbit Chronicles #1
AUTHOR: Gena Showalter
PUB: Harlequin Teen                              PUB DATE: 9/25/12
SOURCE: from pub for review

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

THREE WORDS: Such A Disappointment

From the moment I saw the cover and read the premise of Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland I knew I had to read it! Unfortunately, the book failed to live up to my expectations and is one of the biggest reading disappointments I've experienced this year :(

Alice Bell thinks her father is crazy and with his paronoia, refusal to allow the family out after dark and his belief in monsters, he certainly sounds crazy. But after a tragic accident that takes the lives of her parents and beloved baby sister, Alice thinks maybe he wasn't crazy at all. Maybe the monsters Alice saw the night of the accident and has been seeing outside her window at night are real. And when Alice starts a new school and locks eyes with a gorgeous boy everything changes. Cole, the gorgeous boy, is the leader of a pack of trouble-making tough kids; a group with secrets of their own. Suddenly Alice finds herself not only completely enamored and captivated by bad boy Cole, but trusting him with her own secrets and life. Together they set out to destroy the zombies that destroyed Alice's world.

I love a good zombie story- scary, cheesy, somewhere in the middle-it doesn't matter, and I love when authors thread fairytale elements throughout their modern stories in fresh, unique ways, so Alice in Zombieland seemed like it would be a mish-mash of isn't. What I had hoped would be an exhilarating and fantastically dark infused paranormal story turned out to be 400 pages of a confusing and overly complex storyline, a nauseating teenage romance that boderlines on insta-love, a gaggle of cliché characters and misleading execution.

The actual writing and storytelling are not horrible; Showalter is clearly a talented and imaginative writing. The book has a solid premise and some original ideas with great potential; this potential is just never lived up to. The prologue and chapter one pulled me in quickly and had me engrossed, but then the story just fell apart, and for several reasons. At over 400 pages, this is a semi-long book, but it felt much l o n g e r, and not in a good way. So much of the story is drawn out and there are so many unecessary scenes and so much unecessary dialogue. I found myself merely skimming some of the pages, especially when specific characters spoke or interacted (more on that below).

The actual zombies are very different than your usual decaying, arms-sticking-out, limping and mumbling “Braiiiiinnnns” zombies, which I was okay with through-out most of the book. Showalter did something different with her zombies and that's totally cool, but the whole supernatural elements surrounding the zombies (their origins, abilities, weaknesses, strengths, etc), and the zombie slayers are way too overly complicated and complex. There's just too much story and world-building shoved into one book. And what's worse, is that much of this information is delivered through boring sections of mass info-dump. Too many times I found myself just skipping over paragraphs of these info-dump conversations after several pages.

There's also a certain level of religious preachiness that felt out of place, in my opinion. I have no issues with religious themes or morals being placed in a story, of course, but the supernatural elements and the religious elements just never meshed well in this book because they were never given a connection. Alice's character often prays and speaks of angels and demons being real things, but not once does she contemplate why zombies exist in a world her God created or discuss what effect or impact, if any, their existence and her abilities have on her faith. And another thing that bugged me is the fact that zombies, angels, demons, and spiritual planes are all believed in, but ghosts are deemed as not real. Seriously?

The disappointing and hot mess of a story are bad enough, but I think the characters are even worse. I found Alice to be unremarkable, immature and her character development to be conflicting and all over the place. Everything about her, from her humor to her tough-chick attitude, just feels contrived and unbelievable. Then there's bad-boy, oh so hot and swoony Cole. This dude is just one big cliché- from his gorgeous good looks to his tattoos, hot bod, bad boy clothes to his bossy attitude and inner sweet, sensitive guy. I've met hundreds of other Coles in hundreds of other books.

The relationship between Alice and Cole is definitely hot and steamy, but I never felt invested in it or honestly cared whether they were together or not. And there are slight elements of insta-love, which is always a turn off for me. Oh, and there's kind of a love triangle, or actually more like a love square, between Alice, Cole, Cole's ex Mackenzie and a guy named Justin. So, yeah....

I want to mention two signifcant characters because I had big issues with them. First, Alice's eight year old sister Emma. Emma talks and acts like she's 38 not 8. Second, Alice's new BFF, Kat. Ohmygawd guys, this girl is EXHAUSTING! She talks SO MUCH! And I think she's meant to be witty, but I found her downright annoying and kind of mean. After awhile, every time she opened her mouth I just skipped ahead.

One of the things I hate in books is when an author makes it a point to clarify that this character is black or this character is Latino or this character is gay and then just throws them all together to make some big diverse group...this happens frequently in this book. At one point, Alice officially meets Cole's friends and this is how some are described “...There was Lucas, who was gorgeous and black...Derek, also black...and Haun, an Asian boy...and Cruz, a Hispanic boy...”. Seriously, is all that really necessary? I love culturally diverse characters, but not when they're thrown together for no other reason than being able to say that the book has culturally diverse characters.

But, the thing that REALLY bothers me about this book is the fact that the title is totally misleading. I was expecting and hoping for some kind of Alice' Adventures in Wonderland parallel, whether it be in the symbolism or setting, but other than the title, Alice's name, a cloud shaped like a rabbit and some chapters that reference Carroll's work, this book has NOTHING to do with that other Alice's story. Now, I get that, really, this shouldn't be a big deal, maybe the title is just suppose to be clever and the story itself is what matters. I suppose I just feel gypped in this regard.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Obviously, I did not enjoy Alice in Zombieland. The cliche characters, trite romance and overly complicated supernatural elements just didn't work for me. I so wanted to love this book, but walked away not even liking it. I will not be continuing with the series. 


Connect with the author: Site / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in paranormal and contemporary romances, as well as young adult novels. Her series include White Rabbit Chronicles, Angels of the Dark, Otherworld Assassins, Lords of the Underworld, Alien Huntress and Intertwined.
Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in all over the world. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 


Bonnie said...

I was very disappointed with this story too. I wish the title was different and I still really want to read an Alice in Wonderland meshed with zombies. That title has ruined me... Just ruined me...

Ali and Cole drove me up the wall. Actually, Ali mostly drove me up the wall. They all drove me up the wall... And the visions, did you find those to be unnessecary?

Anyway, I'm glad someone else was disappointed. Not because I want anyone to have an unpleasant reading time, but now I know I wasn't the only one.

(my review if you're interested)

Maji Bookshelf said...

oh no that seriously sucks. I love world building but when it is OVERY descriptive and detailed and over the top complicated I don't enjoy it. Like you said, 400 pages is LONG. Sometimes I wish books would be 300 or less pages but without being draggy than 400+ and just DRAGGY.

great review!!

- Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

ErinPaperbackstash said...

AW, sorry you didn't like it. Haven't read it yet myself but had high hopes like you. It looked so clever! It does sound like it breaks some reading sins, though.

kristiana said...

Ouch! I haven't read this book, and i have a big expectations for this book. Hufft.. I have to read it my self for sure :)
Sorry you didn't like it :(

kristiana said...

Ouch! I haven't read this book, and i have a big expectations for this book. Hufft.. I have to read it my self for sure :)
Sorry you didn't like it :(

Jim said...

Haven't read it (and to be fair, wasn't really planning to even before your review.) I think the title would annoy me, though - if there's no real links to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland then it feels like it's cheating a bit!