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Book Club Discussions > Book #13 - Alice's Adventures In Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass

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message 1: by Max (new)

Max Berger | 156 comments Mod
Discuss your thoughts on the two Alice books with us here!

message 2: by Max (new)

Max Berger | 156 comments Mod
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

It’s not surprising to me that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and hallucinogenic drugs are linked so closely in popular culture.

Despite the book’s age and the author’s old-fashioned sensibilities, it really feels like it was written using a potent acid trip as tonal inspiration. The story floats along dreamily from moment to moment, with no clear purpose or structure in place. Scenes flow into each other gradually and are punctuated by imaginative settings and characters that don’t seem to connect in any meaningful way. The only consistent thing is a pervasive atmosphere of chaos and nonsense.

This style probably works better for some people than others- not everyone wants to be taken on an acid trip when they read a book. If you aren’t interested in a formless, ephemeral, and overall silly experience, you may not find much to enjoy here. On the other hand, you may appreciate the story’s humor and wit, and the appearance of such timeless characters as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter.

Alice herself is a strange character to be sure- absent-minded, alternatively polite and bratty, and simple yet intellectually curious. She takes all the strangeness she encounters in stride, and engages with it as best she can. She also talks to herself quite a bit, and her monologues are as nonsensical as the rest of the book. It makes sense that a girl like her would dream up a place like Wonderland.

While I didn’t like this book as much as the 50s Disney cartoon (I think the story lends itself better to a visual experience), it was still a fun, short read. Over the course of my life I’ve seen many adaptations and interpretations of Alice in Wonderland across different mediums, so it was a treat to see where it all started. Though the language is a bit dated at times, it still holds up beautifully- plus the original illustrations are gorgeous. I give it 7.5 out of 10.

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

I find it difficult to review Through the Looking Glass as its own entity- it feels too much like an extension of the first book.

In some ways, it literally is- the Disney cartoon film adapts elements from both books into one story, including the talking flowers, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, and the walrus and carpenter poem. The Tim Burton film also takes inspiration from this book, most notably the chess game aesthetic and the once-mentioned Jabberwocky.

This is because there are no important differences between the two books other than surface level details. Fundamentally they are the same- Alice has a quirky dream in a magical land full of silly things, and then wakes up. Because of that, I don’t find this sequel to be very interesting. Alice was less pouty and emotional in this story (which is good), but there was a lot more poetry shoved in (which is not so good).

By the end, I don’t think the book proved itself to be very necessary. I don’t know much about the story of Lewis Carroll’s writing career, but I imagine this book was written more for financial reasons than creative ones. It doesn’t try anything new with the established formula, and seems to present only diminishing returns. I like it about as much as the original, but now the novelty is gone. Unless you are a huge fan of the original book, I wouldn’t consider this essential reading. I give it a 6 out of 10.

message 3: by Adriana (Mea) (new)

Adriana (Mea) Gutierrez (adrianamea) | 129 comments Mod
This book was more of a nightmare than a dream to read.

First, I will come right out and say it: I would bop Alice right over the head if I ever met her in real life! Alice is insufferable. I understand her senses are wacky and the characters she meets are backwards by nature, but her sense of entitlement mixed with her vulnerability made her a terrible lead character.

It's hard to get behind a character who is throwing a fit in one paragraph and exclaiming how she desperately wants to have/do XYZ in the next.

Second, Looking-Glass World characters seems to be a washed out version of Wonderland. It's as if each character were brought back from Wonderland and into Looking-Glass World in a new form.

In Wonderland, the characters served a purpose. While their appearances were sporadic, Alice's story seemed to be progressing.

However, in Looking-Glass world the characters ramble through long life lectures and the end result is half baked. Lewis tries to create the magic of Wonderland, but it turns out odd and humorless. At least in Wonderland the writing style and character type was fresh and new.

While I didn't favor the free flow whimsical style, my natural curiosity kept me reading. Curiosity killed the cat... or so they say.

Wonderland Rating: 5/10

Looking-Glass Rating: 4/10

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