Review: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

Monday, 28 December 2015

After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Released: 2nd November 2015
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: Classic Retelling
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Down the rabbit hole, where adventures await. From multimillion-copy bestselling author of WICKED Gregory Maguire comes a magical new twist on ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's beloved classic.

When Alice toppled down the rabbit hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice's disappearance? In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings-and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice's mentioned briefly in ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, is off to visit her friend but arrives a moment too late-and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world.

The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the blood-thirsty Queen of Hearts-droll and imperious as always-interrupt their mad tea party to suggest a conundrum: If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or if Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is after Alice.
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia  for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

After Alice is a book that I did want to enjoy, and the premise sounded promising - but unfortunately for me it didn't quite deliver. While I as expected an equally whimsical and enthralling read to the original, but with a new twist, this one ended up not being quite as gripping as I had hoped. That being said, there were a few redeeming qualities of this book, despite its downfalls in places. 

After Alice reads like a classic novel in terms of the writing style which is quite formal and filled with jargon. While admittedly some of it did go over my head with some obscure references and the way things were phrased, I can see how some readers might appreciate that Victorian charm. What this novel does differently from the original is bring in a more mature element, not so much in terms of content but the essence of the book itself. This doesn't possess quite the same whimsy and magic as Carrol's story, but then again that isn't what After Alice is trying to exactly imitate. Instead, the glimpses into Victorian life are intertwined with Ada's experiences in Wonderland, starkly juxtaposing reality and fantasy. This isn't a bad thing in itself, but I just found that it brought the pacing to a snail's pace unfortunately. There wasn't anything that really grabbed me in the beginning, and the whole story being written in a circuitous style made the plot drag on more than necessary in my opinion. 

That being said, Lydia, Alice's older sister, was an interesting character. I only wish that we had seen more of her in depth - how the responsibilities of the time impacted her at the time, and how she had to act like an adult and still be treated like a child at the age of fifteen. The references to Charles Darwin in the Victorian sections of the novel were vague at best, and the realist element as a whole tended to feel quite disjointed. 

It was in Wonderland itself that the plot ironically, began to make more sense. Harping back to the classic in a slightly closer fashion, the author did do something to capture some of the 'fun' of the story back. Again, the writing style seemed to be trying a too hard to be so eloquent and frankly ambiguous however. The good thing about these sections of the novel featuring Alice was actually seeing how the two 'versions' of the classic (original and re-imagined) converge. 


After Alice held such promise for me, but I was on this occasion left wanting the wow factor which was lacking. Despite the fact that this wasn't to my liking, I'll still be curious to see what Gregory Maguire will write next, and I'm willing to give his books another chance.

On the other hand, what are some of the better classic retellings you've loved? I'm up for recommendations!

Review: Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Monday, 14 December 2015

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird Trilogy #2
Released: 2nd November 2015
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 282
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul.

The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia  for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Following on from the stellar novel (inside and out) that is A Thousand Pieces of You, Ten Thousand Skies Above You did literally go above and beyond in wowing me once again. Whilst the first book sets the scene for the multiverse concept and places the characters in all sorts of dilemmas, in this installment Marguerite has so much more responsibility to deal with and of course, there are also villains at play.

I'm alone in ways I thought I never would be again, because I always thought that even when Paul wasn't with me, he was a part of me.

Not only are there once again a number of different universes for Marguerite to explore in her mission to save Paul in his entirety, but new challenges also emerge. Some of the events which happened in the first book are now having their consequences felt, and that's what makes this installment an engrossing one. Not only has Marguerite's character developed even more, but it feels as if she's matured a lot since she realised the Firebird technology has the capacity to be used for good and evil. Through ancient Rome, a Warverse, a futuristic city where everybody lives among the clouds and once again visiting elements of some settings explored in the first book, Claudia Gray has woven vivid descriptions with a thrilling plot.

Ten thousand skies, and a million worlds, and it still wouldn't be enough for me to share with you. Nothing less than forever will do. 

There is SO MUCH HAPPENING in this book, and the amount of times I literally looked shocked surprised even me. If you thought A Thousand Pieces of You left you reeling, just wait until you see what this novel can dish up. All of this I mean in the best possible way, because when I'm reading a book, I love the surprises!

My best advice? Leave any theories you may have had about what's really going on behind the scenes, and be prepared for some truly unexpected twists. There are multiverse conspiracies, corruption and a questioning of the morality of travelling between all these different times and places when you're bound to make even the smallest of differences. I obviously can't give anything away, but read the book and find out - you won't regret it! 


A Thousand Pieces of You wowed me, and Ten Thousand Skies Above You left me speechless. I'm floored by the amazing storytelling in this one, and Gray's ability to reel us readers in before dropping some pretty major bombshells. Book three can't come soon enough!

Genie's Weekly News (47)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

I have been in a bit of a blogging slump recently. however I have been trying my best to find more time to read. Work has been very busy in the lead up to Christmas, and it's definitely good to see lots of people buying books for people as gifts! I'm still waiting on getting my new computer, though once I do hopefully there'll be more of a routine back on the blog. In some ways, I think it's been good having a bit of a break in this period of adjustment post-school, post-results. I hope to come back to the blogosphere fully and comment on all your fabulous posts soon!

*Reading Right Now*


It is just as fantastic as everyone has been saying!
*Recommendation of the Week*


Slammed is still my favourite novel of hers, but November 9 is also a pretty emotional and engrossing read in its own right. 

*From The Interwebs*


I've definitely been excited about the new books I've gotten in the last couple of weeks, some of which I've bought and others for review. Thicker Than Water sounds darkly atmospheric already, and I'm currently reading through Sylvia Plath's journals now and then. It's really fascinating to have even a tiny glimpse into her life and what her thoughts were. 

*Holiday Cramathon Recap*

Though I didn't get through all the books I had hoped, I still had a few stunning reads from what I did get through, especially November 9. Illuminae looks like it'll be getting a high rating from me as well!

Is anyone else excited about Christmas coming up?