Reviewing Wonderland | 03 June 2013 | Meagan

Huh. What?

I’m having a really hard time writing this review, because this book left me feeling so confused.

I grabbed this book because I was looking for something that would be different from my normal genre. I was looking for a thriller with a lot of action. The blurb for this book makes it seem as if the book is going to be about zombies. And I guess it was, sort of. But the underlying overriding theme of the book was actually about racism.

The book opens up with an action-packed story about a small town in London where a little boy wakes up to find his mother has become a zombie and is eating the brains of his father. But this is almost a teaser for the book. Because after this it switches over and the next 17 chapters are a story about a young girl named Becky (nicknamed “B”) who is dealing with some interesting problems at home.

Here’s where I start having problems with the book. “B” is never fully developed, we are given a rudimentary introduction to “B”. In fact I didn’t know that “B” was a girl until chapter 24! She is portrayed as a rough around the edges kid. She hangs out mostly with a group of boys and only two girls. But the girls are not part of the group that she spends the most amount of her time with. And she’s the tough one out of the boys! The only other thing we know about B is that her father is a raging racist. He is the leader of a racist movement in their city and holds periodic meetings with other individuals who believe that having a Ku Klux Klan in their town would be the best thing ever. Her father also spends a majority of his time beating his wife, where B is left to defend her mother and stand up to her father.

The rest of the characters in the book left me wanting more as well. The most we know how about each of the characters is just a small tidbit of either their personality or their looks. Each kid that B hangs out with has been given a nickname, usually by B. For example “Copper” is a little redheaded kid and “Elephant” was given his nickname after some of his friends saw him changing in the locker room after a soccer game. Other than the small tidbits of information, we never really get to know the characters themselves, or what drives them, or what motivates them.

We do get a sense throughout the book that B is a product of her environment. She was raised by a racist father who beats her mother and this life has made her the way that she is. She does not work hard at school, in fact, she spent most of her class time sleeping or doodling in her notebook. But even despite this fact, most of her teachers give her C’s, even on projects that she doesn’t turn it. I found the relationship between B and her teachers extremely unrealistic. Even in the worst schools teachers would not turn a blind eye to a student who not only does not participate but is also a disruption in class on numerous occasions. She spends the majority of her time with an internal conflict. On one hand she loves and respects her father and wants to please him; on the other hand she understands at some level that what he’s doing is wrong. Even though her internal voice is telling her that the racist things are wrong, she still outwardly portrays a belief in white supremacy. If the author was looking to elicit a strong response from the readers, he did it. I was disgusted with the things that B and her father allowed themselves to do.

Finally in chapter 17 we get back to some action. Zombies attack B’s school and the rest the book follows their fight to get out – alive. This part of the book was exciting, it made my heart pound and I was flipping the pages as fast as I could. I felt like I had finally gotten the book that I was waiting for. Not some underlying social/political slant but just a fun fictional thriller. The descriptions of the zombies and their actions were incredibly grotesque and detailed. It was as if I was standing there watching the carnage and smelling the blood.

The other really neat thing about this book was that it includes these wonderfully depicted caricature drawings of what’s happening in the book at various times.

So all in all I picked this book up looking for an exciting thriller book about zombies. What I got was a socially charged book wrapped in a thriller package. And one last thing to note, without sharing any spoilers, the ending of this book set it up for a sequel. And yet with the way it ends I just don’t see anything from the story left to tell. I would like to say I am curious to know how the author stretches this into another book, but truth be told, I will not be picking up the sequel.

2/5 stars.

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