1 – Sexy and Scary are best accomplished with a hint.
2 – There are not many new twists to old stories – even less that work (damn glittering vampires).
3 – True horror holds a tinge of sorrow.
These are storytelling truths that I hold self evident and facts that Gena Showalter proves in the first edition of The White Rabbit Chronicles – Alice In Zombieland.
I enjoyed the string of Jane Austen revamps and the equally vampy update to Lincoln’s bio. As a lover of all things Alice, I was stoked to see this book on the shelves. However, despite what the title insinuates, this story has nothing to do with the Carroll classic. Normally this would be a hard letdown, but the story was so rich and unique, even I did not lament the loss of the rabbit hole.
Instead we find Alice; a truly sympathetic heroine trying to live a normal teenage life despite the imposing house rules imposed by a father who seems to suffer crippling paranoid delusions. Too late, she learns her father was doing his humanly best to protect those he loved from the inhuman beings he feared most.
Indeed – the dead can walk. Except in Showalter’s telling, not everyone can see them coming. The few, the proud, the zombie slayers are a slight minority who through a twist of genetics, or what can only be described as truly horrific childhoods, develop the ability to see the monsters before they strike. And what you can see, you can fight.
The beautiful result for readers are characters that are truly layered with strength, sorrow, and passion. No vapid teens bemoaning the fate of their PSAT scores here. These kids are LIVING due to almost daily brushes with the undead. A group of adrenaline junkies – often covered in wounds and missing from class – these are the kids most parents can’t begin to handle. Not even their own.
Everything about this group screams dangerous predator and one might say “Thank goodness we aren’t their prey”…but….well….Bad Boys. And Oooooooooooooh, what bad boys they are! The walking wounded. Gladiators with hearts of gold. I have a cougar crush for each of them.
Thankfully, Alice and the ladies are full of tearful layers wrapped in zombie stomping badass. Realistic emotional dilemmas – the death of a parent, the eye contact across the locker rows (swoon), the rejection of friends – these are heroines I would proudly call friends…. that is, if I could see dead dudes and get into their inner circle…..
Often developing characters and placing them where they are needed for the larger story can be tedious, and at worst, flat boring (see Season 2 of The Walking Dead). Showalter manages to juggle the introduction of many players and the various relationships without missing a moment of zombie related action. There were no awkward moments at the end of Book 1 where stories are left hanging for months just to bait the reader into Book 2. The situations introduced were tied up neatly, yet I am still stalking Showalter’s Facebook page for updates on Through The Zombie Glass.
Plus… well… the whole Cougar Crush thing… I mean for fictitious guys, they seem so realistically hot.
*Sidenote: It’s totally worth following Gena on Facebook for adorable updates such as Typo Of The Day and funny autocorrects.