Title: Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Summary: She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I’d tell my sister no.
I’d never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I’d zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I’d hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I’d tell them I love them.
I wish… Yeah, I wish.
So this book starts off with Ali, a not-so-normal teenage girl begging her mom to let them go to her little sisters dance recital. Which doesn’t seem like such a huge thing to ask, especially when it’s on her birthday that they forgot again. Except, it is a big deal when your dad refuses to let you go out after dark, because he is beyond terrified that the monsters are going to get them. Yeah, her dad has a few paranoia issues. But in the end, she convinces her parents to go and they have a good time, but stay out past dark. And on the way home, their car crashes and Ali comes to only to find her mother and sister dead and her father being devoured by creatures on the road. Ali survives and finds herself living with her grandparents, where she catches glimpses of creatures in the woods outside her house. Uncertain of what’s happening, Ali finds unexpected answers at her school, where she encounters a smoldering bad boy named Cole who seems to know what’s going on. You guys hear that, a smoldering bad boy… yeah, you know what that means *eyebrow wiggle*
I’ve heard so much hype about this series but I’ve been really good about avoiding spoilers, so I didn’t even remotely know what to expect going into this book. But first of all, don’t let the title fool you. This book is really in no way about Alice in Wonderland, besides the chapter titles and a few fun things thrown in. I was not aware of this so through the first chunk of the book, I was trying to figure out why there was a lack of Alice in Wonderland-ish things. Despite the lack of white rabbits and hookah smoking caterpillars, this was still such a fun read and I found myself really enjoying it.
Alice, also known as Ali, was a heroine that I actually found myself liking. One of the things that I really liked about her was that she was uncertain and vulnerable through a big portion of this book, but managed to still be stubborn and spunky and confident despite that. But with that, I found her to be a little hot and cold. Sometimes she was really timid pushover and other times she was a confrontational bad ass, and it was hard for me to see why she was one way sometimes then the other way a few minutes later. I did really like seeing her coming out of her shell of sadness and depression after losing her family, and finding a sort of purpose again. It felt like she had lost herself during that time and found a new and improved version. Also, this girl was a bad ass. Seriously, since her father had trained her to kick monster butt, when she actually got into fights, it was so cool to see how she evaluated the situation, made quick decisions, and annihilated her enemies. But not to an unrealistic level, she was good, but she wasn’t the best and she still made mistakes and got hurt.
Cole was an interesting character for me because I really wanted to dislike him. When Ali first sees him and he is hanging around a bunch of bad kids and they were all tough and mysterious, I internally sighed. Of course he was going to be one of those boys who wouldn’t share his feelings and got jealous and picked fights with any boy who talked to Ali and was kind of a massive jerk. And he totally was. But I actually found myself really liking him. I know, what’s wrong with me? I mean, he is the most cliche YA love interest ever and I should be immune to his charms. I mean, he wasn’t even a particularly well rounded character, he was kind of flat and we don’t get to learn that much about him in this book. But there was just something about him that I found myself enjoying. I think it was just the fact that he had no shame and Ali totally accepted him how he was. He would just go around giving people the stink eye and scaring them to death, or picking fights for no reason, or say sexy smoldering things, and he was never embarrassed of his actions and never apologized. He oozed this weird sort of sexy confidence and I found myself really liking it and the fact that he didn’t try to change to impress Ali.
And I have to say, their romance is steamy. I mean, I was frantically fanning myself at some parts. There was an insta-love sort of connection of course, but it was so intriguing because it was so random and out of nowhere, that it actually drew me in because I wanted to know what was going on. And they had some stupid petty romance drama through the book, and while constant hot and cold relationships drive me crazy, I kind of liked the game that they were playing, just because I think Ali and Cole were kind of both out of their comfort zone and bumbling around like idiots trying to figure out what they should be doing. This is kind of stupid, but the one thing that drove me crazy was that every single time they kissed, Ali would notice his taste, and every single time he would taste like some new sexy moan-worthy flavor. It’s like he keeps a stash of random scrumptious flavored mints in his pockets and just so happens to eat one right before they smooch it up. He is clearly a man that plans ahead.
When it comes down to the actual plot of this book, there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I really liked the concept of the zombies and how they are able to fight them. It was a really interesting twist on classic zombies and when you add in a whole bunch of spirit stuff and possible super-ish powers, it became that much more interesting and fun. I really enjoyed some of the secondary characters and some of the subplots going on with them, as well as the struggles Ali faces with keeping this a secret from her grandparents.
I didn’t really like though how there were a lot of coincidences in this book. I always kind of have to call bullshit on certain things. Like the fact that Ali just so happens to end up going to a school with a huge group of kids who just so happen to be able to see zombies, one of which who she just so happens to have some special love connection to… Yeah, she must just be really lucky. I also don’t like when I’m reading a book and feel like certain plot things happen just as an excuse for romance. That sounds confusing but here’s an example. Ali gets chased by zombies into the woods, which is a good excuse for the author to show us how well she can defend herself, which she kind of does. But eventually the heroine get’s taken down, only to be rescued by her knight in shining armor, who cradles her broken body in his arms and begs her to stay with him, then saves her life just in time. When I read things like this I feel like the whole part before, with her getting chased and fighting zombies, is just set up for the romantic scene that we can all swoon over. Which annoys me just a tiny bit.
Honestly, I think the thing I hate most about this book is that it made me like things that I swore to despise. I totally shipped this couple despite their insta-love crap. I loved Cole, the cliche mysterious bad boy with a body carved by angels. Actually, with a body like that, I’m pretty sure the devil himself chiseled it out of stone from the second circle of hell, just to unleash it upon the poor unsuspected girls of Asher High. For those of you that didn’t just get that witty reference I made, the second circle of hell is for the lusty sinners. Get it? Lust? Cole’s sexy body? Ha ha. Anyways, as much as I hate to admit it, I can point out all the flaws I found in this book but I still can’t deny that I busted through it in a day and really enjoyed every second of it. I’ve already ordered the second one.