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after aliceWhat: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

Who: Voyager Australia

When: October 1st 2015

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Harper Voyager Australia for review.

Down the rabbit hole, where adventures await.

From multimillion-copy bestselling author of WICKED Gregory Maguire comes a magical new twist on ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic.

When Alice toppled down the rabbit hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings-and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, is off to visit her friend but arrives a moment too late-and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the blood-thirsty Queen of Hearts-droll and imperious as always-interrupt their mad tea party to suggest a conundrum: If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or if Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is after Alice.

Why I Did Not Finish This Book

I tried to finish this. I tried to love this. But I couldn’t do either. To be honest, I wanted to DNF after the first few pages, because I almost immediately knew that After Alice was not the book for me. Instead, I read until 52% and promptly gave up, because as the saying goes “so many books, so little time”, and I wanted to spend the time it would have taken me to read the last 48% of this book reading something that did not pain me every time I read one word of it.

I did not finish After Alice because of a few reasons:

1) It wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought this would be a lovely and whimsical novel following Alice’s friend, Ada, as she tried to follow Alice around Wonderland. This was only a part of the novel. Yes, Ada does go down the rabbit hole and try to find Alice in Wonderland, but it was all very … by the book. There was nothing particularly new to it, and I was bored by everything Ada was doing.

There were also chapters about Alice’s older sister, Lydia. I had no interest in these chapters, or the things that went on in these chapters, either. I didn’t sign up to read about England in the 1800s.

2) The writing style. It was very hard to get into. It almost reads like a classic – a classic that is extremely boring, lacking in any and all emotion, and completely stiff to read.

3) The themes. I mean, I do understand that it was set in the 1800s, and people could be pretty prejudiced back then. But I couldn’t stand the blatant racism and sexism. I wanted a whimsical fantasy, not a book where I’d be cringing in discomfort every few pages.

4) It was boring. Extremely so. Like I mentioned in point #1, there was a lot of journeying in Ada’s chapters, which was pretty boring, and a lot of pondering in Lydia’s chapters, which was equally boring. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened in the 52% of this novel I read because nothing happened.


Overall, I was super disappointed in the half of After Alice that I did read. I wanted a lot more than I received from it, and was pretty sad that it turned out nothing like what I imagined it would be.

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

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Posted on: October 29, 2015 • By: Chiara

6 Responses to Why I DNF(d) After Alice by Gregory Maguire

  1. This is 100% me when I was reading Wicked. >_< I FELT SO BAD. But…no. And I did win After Alice and do intend on trying it someday but…I'm worried?! I love Alice retellings, but I at least like there to be something different about them, right? If it's just like the original (but boringer) what is the point?!?!

    • Chiara says:

      Oh, Cait. I really hope you like it better than I did, because it was actually all kinds of painful trying to read this. I didn’t like anything about it all, really. And yeah, all the same things but much more boring. D:

  2. Katherine says:

    I totally can see where you are coming from. Maguire has that type of writing style, and while I like it sometimes, I often have to be in the right mood. If I’m not there, I put it down and come back to it in a while. I think this one might be interesting if I’m in the mood, especially because Maguire does fairytale retellings well, but I’m not sure if I can handle more of that writing while trying to finish the Wicked series.

    • Chiara says:

      Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, but even so, I know that I have no desire to pick up the book ever again >.< I am willing to try with Wicked, though, because I do like the sound of the story, and I'd love to see where the musical came from!

  3. Romi says:

    Oh noooooo! I think maybe the element of it being slow is in his writing style? I tried reading Wicked and, no matter how in love with the musical score I am and the story I garnered from my research in that department, I couldn’t get through it. It was fairly heavy reading, and… I’m not sure how to describe it, but I tried for a lot longer than I usually would’ve and it was jst thick reading for me. I’ve only really tried that, so I don’t know if it was only a theme in Wicked, but it sounds like your troubles in that department here were similar to mine.
    I’d been pretty interested to see what this was like, probably through reviews, because it’s such an interesting premise to be featured. Sadly, my love for Alice isn’t enough that I can imagine myself trying this one, with your reaction.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I have to say that the writing style is extremely slow. But I also couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in the story, either. I mean, I can handle slow writing and pacing if there’s something I care about that propels me forward. But in this case there was nothing.

      I was so very excited for this because it sounded so awesome! But alas. It was nothing like I hoped it would be :(

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