Alice in Wonderland High by Rachel Shane

Monday, 13 April 2015
Alice in Wonderland High, by Rachel Shane
Publication: April 18, 2015, by Merit Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Finished Copy
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

Sixteen-year-old Alice suppresses her need for rebellion after a petition to start a farmer’s market receives more snickers than signatures. That is until Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens, leads her on a rabbit trail into the underground–aka secret society–of Wonderland High. Curiouser and curiouser.
Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, Alice has never felt more free to be herself. Soon she stomps on her good girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress them: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. But the group refuses to help with the farmer’s market or reveal their hidden agenda. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz, a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will really turn Alice‘s world backwards. When one group member tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury that’s screaming, “Off with her head!”

I can't even try to tell you how many Alice in Wonderland retellings I've gone through... and how many I've been so utterly disappointed with that I'm not able to handle anything like that for a year. Okay, you've got me—it's happened every single time, except for this one. 

I finally have found the right book for me. You just cannot even imagine how much pain and suffering I've gone through to find the right retelling novel for me. Alice in Wonderland is such a difficult story to be told again, as it's one of the most-known classics to ever hit the shelves, and there's been movie after movie and book after book that's been trying to do it again in the most perfect and absolutely on-point way that one can possibly imagine. Rachel Shane has retold this story in a complete modern-matter with no paranormal aspects needed. That's the unique and wonderful part of this whole story, I must say.

"I swallowed hard. Perfection and I weren't exactly cohorts in our endeavours. Usually I lagged behind someone else's lead. Second in the class. Third wheel in friendships. Fourth in their group."

Can we first get to the point of this review where I can talk about the protagonist? I usually go through some sort of order, but I just have to go on and give my thoughts on Alice and her gorgeous life in Wonderland, Illinois because it just seems right and I really enjoyed her presence in this fictional world that has overtaken my heart and my mind. Alice is passionate, and that was one of the biggest things that captured my heart and helped me change my whole opinion on the most part of the novel and it's what brought my heart to give this a 3.5 rating. Every book needs an intelligent protagonist that can lead readers in the right direction, and they have to be likeable. I can't even give you a few situations where the protagonist influenced the book so much that it ended up as a complete catastrophe in a bad matter. Alice was confident, special and I saw the love that she had for her parents and what they left behind for her to do and work on.

Well, as the actual retelling goes, it follows the story, but at the same time, it takes its own direction and goes wonderfully in some sections while others don't. Alice lost her parents a few years ago in a supposed "car accident" where they bumped into a deer. Of course, Alice believes it and her older sister does too. What she doesn't know is that her parents' jobs as protesters and petitioners to build a farmers' market did take things a little too far, or at least that's what people say. Alice is recognized as a loser in her school and doesn't fit in with the people around her too well, but then she meets Whitney Lapin, who brings her into a world of rebellion and romance with Chess, a guy who takes her heart and never gives it back.

The question that kept circling my mind throughout this whole situation was: Will this situation end up badly and will Alice change her act? I really enjoyed her character from the start, and I can tell you that I was seriously hoping for her to keep her wittiness and never change to the bitch that I saw Whitney as. Please, people, and wonderful protagonists, stay away from the horrifying stuff of peer pressure. Not that I'm a guidance counsellor and know this stuff... but it can definitely look bad on you when someone thinks of your attitude and such. *snickers*

Since I know the real Louis Carroll story really well, I spent the majority time of my reading experience comparing this to the real thing. The characters did resemble the characters of the real book, and there were relationships that Alice had with some people that I didn't see coming. But, like I said—this took another direction at times, right?

"Every time you pass by the honor-roll board... you remember a test you haven't studied for? You wish you had a marker to draw devil horns on my head?"

I guess that I can say the writing could've been better. I wasn't as addicted to keep reading as I hoped I would become, but it wasn't a horrible experience, either. Since I wasn't a big supporter of the eco-stuff and the farming things since I didn't even have half of a clue of what some of the stuff meant, I didn't feel the connection. 

No connection equals less interest of a plot, coming from me. I wanted to feel like I'm able to relate to this fictional high-school experience, but nothing ever came out of this. I just saw it as some fairy-tale retelling, when it should really be a contemporary-romance mixed in with some unique aspects. I found myself rolling my eyes at some moments because of the predictability, but it wasn't that bad. Some things just weren't for me, I have to say. *shrugs happily*

As characters come and go, most I can say aren't memorable, but Alice's love interest here, Chess, certainly was. Because his family was very much like Alice's and supported the same causes, they grew even closer together since they were able to understand what they were talking about. Thank goodness for that encounter in the first chapter or there certainly wouldn't have been any other real, nice moment where they would meet in a realistic way. And the fact that he was kind of friends with Whitney? These aspects absolutely made the story evolve better. I seriously don't want to get into the subject of Miss Whitney Lapin, who stood as an annoying, bitchy teenager who was stubborn and stole friendships.

That's how I saw her as, and since I really loved Alice, I didn't want her to be friends with her, since I guess that I saw the real side of her and the meaning of her character. Don't think of Whit as the perfect rabbit who shouts, "I'm late," and gears Alice into the rabbit-hole. You might have saw her as that, but I absolutely didn't. 

Here we have a hilarious contemporary novel that deals with: broken friendships, a cute crush, and eco-terrorists, when you really think about it. *laughs* All in all, there were some broken moments where I felt that the book lost some of the connection from me, but it kept me going and made a nice Saturday-night read that everyone should go for eventually. I'm so excited to see Rachel Shane at BEA in May, where I'll definitely go to her signing and get this pretty signed!

*A finished copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What's your favourite Alice in Wonderland retelling? Or maybe... you don't have one, like I did before?

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