Estelle: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland by Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter ( web | tweet )
Book 1 in the White Rabbit Chronicles series.
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Pages: 404
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Zombies, high school, romance, friends
Format read: A book from my bookshelf! (I got the copy at BEA.)

Summary: One night of acting normal changes Alice’s whole life when her parents and sister die at the hands of zombies. At a new school, living in a new house, Ali is suddenly obsessed with these nocturnal creatures and wants to take them down.

I know, I know. This doesn’t seem like a typical Estelle book. I am partial to contemporary fiction, yes. But I do love to try new things, and I couldn’t help but dust off my copy of Alice in Zombieland when I heard such high praise from Betty over at Book Rock Betty. (Can you believe I picked it up because it had a pretty cover?)

And I am so very glad that I did.

We first meet Alice caught in a Molly Ringwald-like situation. Her parents have totally forgotten her 16th birthday, and to make it up to her, she wants her little sister, Emma, to be able to dance in her recital that evening. (Their relationship is adorable.) Sounds simple, right? Well. Not so much. Alice and Emma lead a very sheltered childhood due to their father’s fears about “monsters” lurking at nightfall. Because of this the girls haven’t been able to maintain much of a social life. Alice is frustrated because she thinks her dad is nuts (and he drinks too much) and because her mom will do very little to stand her own ground on this situation.

So it’s pretty exciting when Alice gets her parents to give in for once, and Emma has her chance to shine on stage. Unfortunately, the night ends in heartbreak and a horrible discovery: her dad was right. The monsters are real and Alice’s family are their latest victims. Stuck in a new school and living with her grandparents, Alice is starting all over as Ali, secretly spying on these creatures at all hours and having visions when she locks eyes with the gorgeous yet dangerous Cole Holland at school.

From Ali’s sarcasm to the uber-confidence of her new friend, Kat, to the grandparents desperately trying to be cool, Showalter injects a ton of personality in to Alice of Zombieland. I really liked that because it set up a nice balance with the whole fighting evil thing that was going on. I was reminded a little bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was reading it, with Ali going through normal high school stuff by day and looking out for zombies at night. (The two start to intertwine as time goes on.)

And then there is Cole Holland, who has violet eyes, tattoos, and a nipple ring. No joke. This guy is hot, but everyone keeps telling Ali to stay away. But she can’t help it because whenever they lock eyes, both of them are stuck in this bubble neither of them can figure out. Despite the tough exterior, I really liked Cole a lot. Yes, he was a total leader and liked to tell people what to do. But I think he had every reason to want to maintain control. Those scary things that lurk in the night had already turned his life upside down; he needed to have a grasp on something.

And oh gosh, the whole slow-burn romance between Cole and Ali equates to some super blazing moments.

I’m not much of an expert on zombies at all but I really liked Showalter’s even spookier take on them. They were more like ghosts or spirits, and even the way of attacking them was different. (Remember the thestrals from Harry Potter? Those weird creatures could only be seen by people who had been a witness to death. For some, Showalter’s zombies are like that too. Ali could only see them once she experienced a traumatic event.) The fighting, Ali coming to terms with her father being right, and the question of who to trust made this book a page turner.

I only have one gripe, really. Except for a few minor references (and chapter titles), the book didn’t relate all that much to Alice in Wonderland. All those references felt more coincidental than part of a bigger re-telling. Honestly, I’d forget all about it until I got to a new chapter.

That absence didn’t affect my enjoyment though. Zombieland was creepy, it was funny, and the lively dialogue and commentary definitely made me a fan. Bring on Book 2!

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13 thoughts on “Estelle: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

  1. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook says:

    I’m glad you liked Alice in Zombieland, Estelle. I really enjoyed it when I read it last year. I do agree that it really didn’t seem to relate in any way to Alice in Wonderland, but I didn’t mind that because I don’t like Alice in Wonderland much. I was surprised by the amount of humor Showalter added to this book. I loved seeing her grandparents trying to be cool.

  2. Betty says:

    Yay! Seriously, I’m soooo happy you gave this book a shot even thought it isn’t your typical kind of book!!! Also thrilled you liked it as much as you did— but borrow it?? Come On!! Those covers belong on the shelf! hahaha I agree on the retelling aspect of the story… some people might be annoyed if they had certain expectations, but I think that is why I loved it as much as I did. I’m not big on retellings, so for me it was a bit of a relief! I think it definitely a book that anyone would enjoy regardless of genre preference!!! 🙂 And… mmmm… Cole Holland and that nipple ring!! Go read book 2!

  3. Christianna says:

    I’m glad that I read your review! I totally would have thought that this one was more of retelling than it seems to be. Needless to say, this one sounds like it’s really kick ass and I like loose retellings. Thanks for the awesome review! And you’re totally right about that cover!

  4. Megan @ The Book Babe's Reads says:

    I have this on my shelf, but I am so so nervous about starting it! From your review, it sounds like it was pretty good, though, so I should read it soon. And is it okay to swoon for Cole before I ever even read about him? Because I’m swooning. Right now… tattoos and piercings… *flails* Awesome review, Estelle! Hope I get to read this one soon. 😉

  5. molly @ wrapped up in books says:

    I’d pretty much written this book off when I discovered it wasn’t really related to Alice in Wonderland…but your review has made me reconsider! I’m all aboard for slow burning romance and Buffy style action. The title is just really unfortunate, because I think I could get behind Alice in Wonderland with zombies as a story!

    I’m glad you took a risk on this, and I am putting it back on my TBR list!

  6. Leigh {Little Book Star} says:

    Yay I’m glad you liked this book! I was very excited when it came in the mail, but when I was halfway through the novel, I had to drop it. Idk I was just bored with the story especially when it was barely like Alice in Wonderland. Hopefully the 2nd book is better. I don’t think I’ll continue on with the series though. I gave the 1st book away.

  7. Ciara @ Ciara Reads Books says:

    I really want to read this book! I’ve heard from a few others that there isn’t much of a connection to Alice in Wonderland but I still love the sound of it. And your reference to Buffy makes me want to read it all the more! 🙂

  8. Jess @ Gone with the Words says:

    First, I’m so surprised and happy that you tried this book and liked it. Not because I’ve read, but because it’s not contemp!! YAY! haha I’ve always liked the cover of this book and I’ve actually read and enjoyed Showalter’s adult PNR books. I’ve also read part of her YA series, Intertwined, but that was just ok. Haven’t felt compelled to finish it. I think I still want to give this one a try though. I mean, if you enjoyed, I bet I will too! 😀 Great review, Estelle!

  9. Judith says:

    This doesn’t sound like a “me” book either – I’m not into zombies at all – but I’m glad you enjoyed it. I am a bit confused about the title since it doesn’t seem to have much to do with Alice In Wonderland, but oh well. There might be a reason for that? And ah, the hot guy, aka Betty’s main reason for loving it, haha. She’ll push it on me eventually, I can just tell.

  10. Alexa Y. says:

    After seeing your thoughts and Betty’s thoughts on this book, I’m slightly intrigued! I do think it’s awesome when there’s a slow burn romance. Plus, I love the marriage of the zombies to something a little more contemporary. I’ll probably have to check this one out!

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