Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Ninja Listens to.... The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss Heart, daughter of the King and Queen of Hearts, is forced to flee Wonderland when her evil Aunt Redd uses her powerful imagination to murder both her parents.  She and her bodyguard Hatter Madigan escape by jumping through The Pool of Tears, a portal into other worlds. But something goes wrong in the Pool and Alyss lands smack-dab in the middle of London while Hatter is transported to Paris.  Alyss is forced to use her wits instead of her magical imagination to survive until the Liddell family adopts her.  Her new family disapproves of of Alyss' fantastical stories of Wonderland but she finds a sympathetic ear in the Charles Dodgson, a friend of the family.  Alyss finally thinks her stories will find validity when Dodgson writes a book on Wonderland, only to find that the has got everything wrong!  Her life was not a silly magical adventure with a white rabbit and a disappearing cat!

Meanwhile in Paris, Hatter Madigan spends all his time tracking down Alyss across continents until he finally finds her 12 years later. When Alyss and Hatter are reunited they are finally able to go back to Wonderland, but the country they see has changed drastically.  Redd has taken over the entire kingdom and turned it into a country of forced devotion to Redd and her evil ways.  Only a small group of resisters, called Alyssians, fight back.  When the Alyssians find out that Alyss is back, they begin to plan how they can take back their kingdom and hand it over to the rightful Queen.

This book is probably one of the most imaginative reworkings of a story that I've ever read!  Beddor does justice to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by twisting the story to create a world in peril.  It's not necessary to have read the book to enjoy Beddor's version, however it might be easier to see Beddor's clever reimaginings.  Take the name of Alyss' tutor, Bibwit Harte and rearrange the letters.  You get White Rabbit.  The Chechire Cat in this book is actually an evil, 9-lifed soldier that works for Redd.

The one downfall of this book would be the amount of time Hatter spends searching for Alyss while on Earth.  Twelve years pass and while it is understandable that this would help turn Alyss from girl to woman before having to go back to Wonderland and fight Redd, it also feels very long to read this part of the book particularly when the reader wants to get back to Wonderland and fight evil! 

Honestly, if I hadn't been listening to this book (as opposed to reading it), it is possible I would have stopped when the plot slowed down in the middle.  Listening to the book helped to get me through slower points because the narrator is absolutely fantastic and does a wonderful job of imagining character voices.  Four out of Five Ninja Kicks!

Check out the first book and the rest of the series:

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