The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
Dial Books/Penguin Group: NY.

The Looking Glass Wars 2006: I checked the book out from the library, because it sounded intriguing. It's much more captivating than I expected. I don't know how it was received by Lewis Carroll fans, but I found it to be one of the more engaging young adult books. The reading level is a little low (possibly 7th grade), and there are some parts that could have been developed more.

The concept of the book is what first attracted me. Alyss Heart (heir to the futuristic Wonderland Queendom) is transported to nineteenth century England through the Pool of Tears/random puddle when her Aunt Redd murders her mother (the Queen) and grabs control. Alyss falls in with some homeless children (like Oliver Twist), gets caught stealing, and is taken to an orphanage where she is adopted by the Liddells (Mr. Liddell being a dean in Oxford). For years she tries to keep the memory of her past alive and is scorned for her efforts. The publishing of her story (twisted by the author) motivates her to reject her memories and learn to blend in with society. Alyss is propelled back into Wonderland when Hatter Madigan announces her survival and Redd sends the Cat after her. She needs a crash course in imagination, since the battle for the Queendom is one of imagination.

There is a timeline of parallels at the back of the book, but the political and social references are minimal in the story. There are many special effects with a futuristic atmosphere: transportation using looking glass mirrors and a puddle system, talking billboards animated by the Queen's imagination, all sorts of flying weaponry and illusions. Hatter Madigan and Bibwit Harte are great characters and may yet inspire me to read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

This is one of the many fantasy stories in movie production. Though I don't want all of the great books to be made into movies, I believe this book could make a great movie if done properly.

Seeing Redd 2007: Through an imagination twist, Redd and the Cat find their way to France via an artist's palette. Redd seeks out the darker elements of Earth to gather generals for her next attempt at wresting Wonderland from Alyss. Hatter Madigan leaves to mourn his beloved, learns of a daughter he didn't know he had, and walks into the clutches of the King of Borderland.

Overall, I liked the first book better. Maybe because it was fresh and original. Maybe because so much of this second book is war, and the first book was violent enough already (doubtless boys will love it). Maybe I was just forced to read the book too quickly, since I had three others I was reading and a son dying to get his hands on it. There are some bits I think are excellent: the means of Redd's return, the tool used to defeat Redd again, parts of Madigan and Molly's story, brief allusions to Earthly politics (alas, no timeline for this book).

related-kings, queens, rulers, monarchs, war, characters in literature, Alice in Wonderland, imagination, light vs dark, good vs evil

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