Tobey's Reviews > The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
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did not like it
Recommended for: people who hate good books.

I could easily compose a rant about how this book sucks so hard that light has a hard time escaping its gravity well, but instead of just bashing let's take an objective look at why this book is so very very bad.

The Looking Glass Wars is a triumph of artistic design and marketing. The concept is immediately simple and intriguing. Wonderland is real. Alice Liddell was a princess on the run and Lewis Carroll mangled the truth. Alyss grows up and goes back to save a ruined Wonderland. The cover art is amazing, and the book is filled with things that fantasy lovers adore like maps and timelines. There is a website where you can play games related to the book, or buy a CD of atmospheric music to listen to while you read. There is even a comic book series about one of the secondary characters. How cool, right?

Unfortunately the actual book is a mess. I can't grasp why there are so many positive reviews of this book, and it seems that many of the people who like it say that the people who don't just couldn't handle the manipulation of the original story. Listen, I've got no problem with that. I think the concept is loaded with potential. It is just a bad book. And I can't even say, "But that's just my opinion." It is clearly very poorly written. I mean the author has characters say "Noooooo!" Who does that? Four times, when confronted with bad situations, characters in this novel actually shout "Nooooooo!" On film it would play as a bad joke, but in literature it is just inexcusable.

Almost nothing is sufficiently described. There are lots of talking and fighting chessmen in the book, but we're never told exactly what that means. Are they anthropomorphic rooks and bishops with arms and legs, or people that wear armor in the shapes of those pieces, or robots like Redd's card soldiers? We are never told, and they play a big part in the narrative. And orb generators. I still don't know what an orb generator does. They wield it like some type of gun, and I would imagine that it generates orbs, but apparently it just shoots orb generators. Like a bad guy can come in holding an orb generator and fire it and then it says that the good guys then had to dodge all of the orb generators flying around. I guess that means what they really are is orb generator generators, if what they really generate is orb generators. Great job, you wacky author you.

And let's talk about Redd and Alyss' imagination powers. Apparently they can imagine anything and it happens. Like Green Lantern, but better. So can they imagine money or jewels? If so why do they need workers in the mines? Alyss can't imagine a fire into being, but she can imagine a solid metal lid that floats down to put out the fire. What? If they can simply imagine food into existence, why are people going hungry? Why can you not imagine someone dead, but you can stab them to death with imaginary knives? It is implied that if Alyss' imagination was strong enough, she could imagine a whole army of soldiers. Then why do they have flesh and blood soldiers, and why do they have to build robot soldiers? If they can imagine guinea pigs and worms into existence, then these characters have the godlike ability to create life from nothing but these ideas are never expanded on or dealt with. Just thrown in to get the story to the next chase scene. Which there are a lot of.

Who is this book written for? The violence and expensive spin-off materials ($75 for a Looking Glass Wars themed art book!) would imply adult readers, but the juvenile sense of humor would indicate otherwise. For example one character has a fat butt, and the book just goes on and on about this like I'm supposed to be giggling ever time it is mentioned. He gets stuck in a chair and other characters have to tug him out. Hilarious, right? I share with you an exchange between prophetic caterpillars while they're getting high off their hookahs:

"I'm having the weirdest sense of deja vu right now," said the green caterpillar.
"Duh!" said the yellow caterpillar. "Do you think, just maybe, that's because you predicted this?"
"Oh, yeah."
The caterpillar council tittered.

I'm wrapping this up, because if you actually found that funny then there's not much I can do to change your mind. SOUND EFFECTS! Who does sound effects in literature? I mean come on! Here are some of my favorites:

Thimp thimp thimp! Thimp thimp thimp!
Clangk! Skrich-onk!

And from the big climactic battle:

Krrrrrkkkchsss! Hissszzzzl! Krrrch! Zzzzssszz!

I'm not making this up. I wish I was. In summation, this book is not fun, entertaining, or well written, and you should not read it.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2010 – Shelved
March 13, 2010 – Started Reading
March 30, 2010 –
page 320
87.91% "This book is taking me forever because it sucks so hard, but the end is in sight."
March 30, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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emily I can't agree with this enough.

message 2: by James (new)

James Fleming i am not sure what there is not to like about this book. i have read it 3 times abnd loved it. not sure about what these 1 star raters are talking about

The Overflowing Inkwell I'm with you on the rooks and bishops! I spent the book imagining human-sized chess pieces; I hope that's alright. Those sound effects, I cannot get over them. They also don't seem to match what is making the sound? I spent several minutes trying to imagine a door/wall being punched open in the Puzzle Shop ever starting with a 'k' sound. Dx

Guillermo I honestly, honestly think that you're review is better that's the actual book.


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