In recent years, the infamous book about a little girl's unwise decision to crawl down a rabbit hole and all that followed has been remade, reimagined, and reframed many times. When I was young, we had the Disney animated version. Since then, television shows, movies, books, and video games have attempted to use the source material to draw their audience into the intriguing world of Wonderland.
Since the story is more or less culturally ubiquitous at this point, I decided it was past time to go ahead and read the book that started it all. I'd read excerpts when I was in college, but just as pieces of a dream sometimes seem perfectly reasonable out of context, I did not realize the extent of the madness that is Wonderland.
In sum, this book is an extremely accurate reproduction of the disorientation and frustration of a dream, where
the order of events is nonlinear,
scene transitions are confusing if present at all, and
the actions of the main character and reactions of the supporting cast can be neither predicted nor justified.
The feeling of reading this book was rather like the sensation of waking up from a fever dream. My most prominent thought throughout the reading was - "Wait, what?"
In movies and TV shows, Wonderland is painted as looney and a little non sequitir, with a jarring divide between the "real world" of logic and mundane patterns and itself. But the plots and story arcs that happen inside Wonderland, and the characters the populate it, tend to make more or less a modicum of sense. Some go to the effort of explaining why the Mad Hatter or the March Hare are insane, or why the Queen of Hearts is so violent.
But I think in trying to justify their madness, you've lost some of the feel of the original Wonderland - a place where nothing makes sense, nothing follows the rules, and no one can be relied on to answer a question.
I'll grant this book three stars because it's aged surprisingly well, all things considered. If I was basing my rating purely off of my emotional reaction to the book, it would probably only have two stars, because I was extremely uncomfortable and frustrated for the whole duration, and will probably never read it again.
I like closure. That's all there is to it.