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Book Reviews: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

24331115I picked this book up at a local big-box retailer on sale for 50% off. More interestingly it was a limited signed edition on sale for 50% off so that should have been a clue.

The nutshell on this book is that it follows Ada down the rabbit hole in a parallel with the old Alice affair of which we’ve all read. Alternating chapters detail the goings on above ground as Lydia and family go in search of both the girls.

To the positive side, the book does have a lot of the flavor of the original. It’s not afraid to throw around heaps of erudite vocabulary and will send even the most solid vocabularist to their dictionary at least a couple of times. We’re also treated along the way to visits from most of our favorite characters from the original though their appearances in the story are almost absurdly brief.

To the negative, After Alice seems to have a lot to say that it takes a VERY long time to start to care about. The above-ground chapters of the story are, for half the book, rather pestilential. It feels like an unwanted interruption and unnecessary padding. About page 120 it becomes possible to care about Lydia and her house guests but until that point I found it difficult to resist the temptation to skip every alternating chapter.

In summary, for the die-hard fan, this offers a very small addition to the milieu of Alice but it comes at a high cost. On some level I feel that there’s more there if you just inspect it closely enough so I’ll be tucking this away on the shelf for a later and closer read but to the more casual consumer of books this one is one to be avoided at most costs.

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