Alice by Christina Henry

28832674Alice by Christina Henry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay…not sure how to talk about this.

First, the biggest problem is the characters are never in any real danger, they defeat the enemies much too easily and there’s never anything at stake beyond physical harm, which, as stated, was never going to be a thing. There’s no depth to Alice and when we finally get Hatcher’s backstory, it doesn’t affect him in the present. A story like this, where the memories of the two primary characters are hidden for dramatic purposes, should actually have some dramatic purpose when revealed. At the beginning of the book, when Alice is dressed as a boy, everyone sees through her disguise simply so why bother with it?

Second, the world created seems to only exist in what we see. There doesn’t seem to be any larger world around the one inhabited by these characters. There are no incidental characters, no one who exists outside of the needs of the plot. So every character we meet, we assume must mean something. Which then explains why we never actually get a sense for the world in which these characters live. The original Alice was about much more than whimsey. There was a lot going on under the surface. Here. we don’t even get the surface.

Third, and this is the most problematic, if this book were written by a man, the reviews would all be about how misogynistic it was and how much he must hate women. Almost all the violence perpetrated in the book is against women (or small, fuzzy animals), and almost all of that violence is of a sexual nature. There was so much raping and disfiguring of women for the pleasure of men that it almost became satire.

When Richard Pryor used the N-word as a way to take away its power and meaning, he was doing something specific, to a purpose, and was only dealing with a word. Trying to do the same to a physical act, one which affects countless women, seems insensitive at best.

So while this was an interesting take on the Wonderland story, the concept was much more creative than the execution.

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