Friday, October 5, 2012

Alice in Zombieland

Alice in Zombieland
by Gena Showalter
Read: October 1-3, 2012 (a great read to welcome October!)
Published: September 25, 2012 Harlequin Teen
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: YA - Paranormal Horror*/Romance 
Series: Book 1 in White Rabbit Chronicles

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…. (take from Goodreads)

Alice goes Down the Zombie Hole.
I should have listened to my father. He warned me over and over never to go out at night, never to venture into a cemetery and never, under any circumstances, to trust someone who wants you to do either.
When Alice Bell's family is killed in an attack outside of cemetery one night, she learns the hard way that her father had been right about the monsters that come out at dark. In a moment her world changes drastically, new school, new home and new rules. Alice - now called Ali - will avenge her family and learn to fight the creatures that destroyed her world. 

Alice in Zombieland is an exciting read with lots of action, zombie killing and a kick-butt heroine. The story starts off a bit slowly, and Alice is understandably depressed and confused after she looses her family. But once the plot started moving - especially after Alice meets bad-boy Cole and begins fighting zombies, it was a wild ride until the end. 

Alice in Zombieland is not a retelling.
I've read a few reviews that cautioned readers not to compare this book to Alice in Wonderland, and I encourage you to do the same. Although there was a white rabbit, and the chapter titles reference the original book, Alice in Zombieland is not a retelling. It does however, take on the spirit of its inspiration with the idea that in an instant, Alice Bell goes from being a sheltered semi-normal girl to discovering that there's an entire world of frightening and fantastical beings that are all around her. And once her eyes are opened, she can never go back. 

Don't call her Alice.
Alice Bell, or Ali as she dubs herself after her parents' death, is the type of girl that looks harmless on the surface but has a strong interior, and is not afraid to get her hands dirty in a fight. Thankfully we get plenty of examples of her toughness and fighting skills. It's also clear that the author worked hard to make her sound "teenagery" (I know that's not a word). Ali's voice is chatty, and her tone, cultural references and punctuation of words is clearly supposed to mimic teens. I found this to be annoying at first, and questioned whether her voice felt authentic or manipulated. But as the story moved along, Ali really grew on me. She began to seem more natural, and I found her to be quite amusing. I like that she was gutsy, honest with the reader and not willing to put up with anyone's crap. 

Great world building on a micro scale. 
Although this isn't my favorite zombie lore, the story did a good job at describing who the zombies were, how they functioned, and ways to fight them. We get this information in a few info dump parts of the book, sections that were explained and justified because of Ali's inquisitive nature. Thankfully, I am also a naturally curious person so I could definitely see myself asking lots of questions too. I actually get annoyed when main characters don't do enough asking, so I was pleased to see that Ali wasn't one of them. 

Weak world building on a macro scale. 
The entire novel takes place in a small area of Alabama, and though I liked the setting, we don't get any sense of how big the zombie problem is. Is it affecting the entire country? Or just this state? The characters indicate that it is a huge problem - and about to get bigger. But If so, how have the attacks been kept quiet? (I know this is sort of explained, but not enough for me to be satisfied.) Wouldn't there be more unexplained events on a larger scale? Suspicious law enforcement or medical staff? I'm hoping that the scope of the novel broadens a bit in the next books, and some of these questions are answered. 

Ali makes a new friend.
I really enjoyed Ali's friendship with Kat. I wasn't sure about Kat at first, but she became one of my favorite people in this book. She is funny and quirky, providing a lot of the lighter moments in the story. But she's also loyal and honest, and a deeper person than she first comes across. 

Ali also meets a boy.
Alice in Zombieland also has a strong romance portion to it, and it's pretty insta- (there is an explanation for this). Cole comes across at first as they typical dangerous bad boy. But under that exterior, there's a seriousness to his character. It is clear that he has a purpose that drives him, and I really respected him for it.  Although Cole seemed more mature than a 16 year old boy, I forgave some of that because of what he has faced down in life. I liked Cole, though he didn't grab me like some love interests do. 

At first, Alice and Cole's relationship has a lot of standard YA characteristics: mysterious guy, confusion and angst. But eventually, I was pleased with how the relationship between them developed. Alice is not afraid to question Cole's motives, and although the attraction is instant, there's definitely a sense that the two want to get to know and trust each other first. I was also surprised with how many positive messages there were about relationships (both friendships and dating) and even sex. Both are talked about in a smart way, which was a pleasant surprise. Although a fun book, it is not just fluff.  

My thoughts in a short form.
Alice in Zombieland started off as a slow read for me. I wasn't sure whether I liked the characters at first, and it took a while to get to the zombie action.  But I ended up really enjoying this story. It was fun, gruesome in places and the characters had surprising depth to them. I do hope there's more world building in the next book, but I'm excited to see what happens next. 

Cliffhanger Scale**: Low. It's clear the book is part of a series, and that bigger things are coming. But this particular story wraps itself up well, and there are no new revelations at the end. 
Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Rating: 4 stars

*I'm horrible at categorizing books, so this may not be accurate.
**I'm going to start rating cliffhangers too! I haven't come up with an official system yet, because I wanted to get a feel for how they rate first. 


  1. Love gutsy female leads! And I didn't realize this took place in Alabama! Woo hoo for southern settings! Not such a fan of the insta-love, but I did take note that it is later explained.

    On the whole zombie books aren't my favorite and really this one didn't grab my attention at first (I think it's the title that makes me wary) but I'm glad to read your thoughts Lauren because it's definitely altered my preconceived notions about the book:)

    1. Yeah. I know a lot of people don't like insta-love. While I find slow burn to be far more meaningful, I don't mind insta sometimes. I wish I could talk more about this book specifically, but it's spoilery.

      I'm surprised you don't like zombies. I haven't read a lot of them either. I think my favorite is Dearly, Departed. That mythology made sense to me.

  2. I've unfortunately heard SO many disappointed things about this novel that I totally wrote it off, but your high praise of it has me intrigued. I tend to love zombie novels and the fact that you really enjoyed this, along with the mild love triangle factor, are hugeee points that are making me consider picking this one up after all. Wonderful review, Lauren, and thanks for convincing me about this one after all! :)

    1. I'm interested to see if you actually like this one. I'm thinking that it may not be for you. It took me a while to really like the characters. And the zombie mythology is a bit different, I'd be curious what you think of that as well. I seem to be one of the few that did like this one!

  3. I want to read this book SO MUCH. So much, in fact, that I searched both of my library systems midway-thru you review to see if I could get it. I put myself on the wait list for it.

    I don't mind insta-love so much as long as it isn't stupid.


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