From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This darker, modern update of Alice in Wonderland is more likely to please fans of Tim Burton's film adaptation than those of Lewis Carroll's novel. Alyssa, 16, is a descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who was Carroll's inspiration for Alice. Her mother lives in a mental institution, and she herself struggles with hearing voices from insects and flowers. Do the women in her family suffer from a curse that can somehow be traced back to the original Alice? The opening chapters drag a bit, but the action picks up when Alyssa finds herself in Wonderland, fighting for her survival-and for her mother's sanity. Howard maintains a lush atmosphere throughout, reintroducing Carroll's characters as truly nightmarish monsters. Though Alyssa's ongoing quests can sometimes seem aimless and the requisite love triangle forced, teens looking for a creepy, descriptive read with a generous dollop of romance will gravitate toward this title.-Hayden Bass, Seattle Public Library, WAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
YA authors have used fairy tales and fantasy as a backdrop for contemporary stories for decades, and first-time author Howard is no exception. Relying on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as the infrastructure, as well as Tim Burton’s fantastical movie landscapes for inspiration, Howard crafts a teenage skater girl, Alyssa Gardner, who feels compelled to throw herself down the rabbit hole in an attempt to cure her mother’s madness and quiet the ever-increasing chatter in her own head. But Alyssa does not make this journey alone. Childhood friend Jeb enters Wonderland with her, a constant grounding to the real world as they encounter Morpheus (who sports a hookah), Rabid White, Chessie, the Red and Ivory Queens, and other iterations of Carroll’s familiar characters. It’s a deft, complex metamorphosis of this children’s fantasy made more enticing by competing romantic interests, a psychedelic setting, and more mad violence than its original. With one test after another that she must pass, Alyssa soon learns that the only person she can rely on is herself. Grades 8-12. --Frances Bradburn