…on Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Posted November 14, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 25 Comments

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles #1

Published by Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: September 25, 2012
404 PagesSource:  Library 

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies…. –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

My Thoughts:  Ali Bell lost both of her parents and her sister pretty early in the book after a tragic accident. Then she witnesses something crazy: the monsters that her father talked about all the time are actually real. They exist. And she can see them and smell them. And she isn’t the only one.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Alice in Zombieland doesn’t seem to be a re-telling. 

I’m sure I’m not alone, but when I first saw this title and cover, I assumed that this book would be a re-telling of the classic Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll with a neat-o zombie twist. I mean, the cover even says “Off with their heads.” I believe I was mistaken. Aside from a snarky main character named Alice, a few mentions of a white rabbit, and a clever title, this book really doesn’t remind me of Alice in Wonderland at all. Does this bother me? No, not really. Is the cover/title combo misleading? Ultimately, a little bit. It doesn’t matter, though. I still liked the book.

The second thing you need to know is this:
These zombies are unlike any I have ever experienced. 

Gena Showalter took the liberty of twisting up zombie lore a bit until she had something original, or at least it was completely original to me. These zombies are different from all of the others out there because they are not undead humans – they’re actually infected spirits that have risen from human bodies. They don’t use their teeth to bite into flesh – they use their spirit form to actually enter the human body of their victims and feast on the spirit of the victim, which results in the spread of their infection. Whether or not the victim is administered the antidote for the infection within the specified time after the bite determines whether or not the victim will turn into a zombie. (Yes, I did just say that there is an antidote!) Weird, wild stuff, you guys.

While they are different, the zombies do have some of the regular similarities as others: they smell bad, they have decomposed flesh, they are sensitive to light and therefore come out at night, things like that.

It took me a little while to get these zombies figured out. They were explained little by little over pretty much the entire book. So…even close to the end, I was still learning about these creatures.

The third thing you need to know is this:
Despite a few tiny kinks, I really liked this story.
Okay, so the zombie lore is different – I’ve mentioned that. And I feel like there are a couple of questions that I still have – nothing too big and only a detail or two, but they’re still there. In spite of this, I enjoyed Alice in Zombieland. It was pretty fast-paced and had fun characters. I also like that this author gives us plenty to look forward to in the next book while still wrapping the story up well. I wouldn’t say that there are lots of loose ends that need to be tied up, but that I have a great idea of what to potentially expect from book two.


Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter is a book that I have been having a fit to get my hands on for the longest time. It is my first book by Gena Showalter and I will absolutely be continuing with this series when the next book comes out. I don’t really understand why it is written with all of the references to Alice in Wonderland, as I didn’t see it as a re-telling, but HEY IT ISN’T MY STORY so I’m totally fine to just go with it. 

Ali was an interesting girl. There were some times when she seemed to be strong and brave, and there were other times when she seemed meek and mild. Ali lived an extremely sheltered life – like, to the extreme – before she lost her parents and her life changed so traumatically, so it wasn’t a shock to me that she would have conflicting moments of weakness/strength. But I have to admit that I had a hard time really figuring her out… She would do things that would frustrate me a little bit. And of course there are things about her that I don’t understand just yet with regard to her special zombie-hunting skills – I just need to find out more about her in the next book. Cole, Ali’s crush/trainer/maybe-boyfriend, was the stereotypical YA broody mysterious guy with a tattoo. Or two. And scars. From fights. He and Ali played this game of “Are we or aren’t we?” with regard to their relationship status that lasted for a while. I think Ali and Cole have the potential to be a great couple. Yes, I said potential. I have my eye on these two. 

Ultimately, I think that Ali and Cole were a little hard for me to get close to as a reader, but they were certainly fun. Their romance was built on an instant attraction and odd visions that they both experience, but of course over time their attraction becomes more. I like them together, although I think they could be better together if I had a better sense of the both of them as individual characters. 

Alice in Zombieland is not a story that will stand out to me for world-building, setting, or super-thorough character development – although these characters are fun, original, and colorful and I enjoyed reading them a lot. The story will stand out to me because it is original, it has great pacing, and it has tons of action. I wouldn’t mind seeing more romance built into the next book because I like it when romance and action are combined if they are done well. I recommend this book for paranormal romance readers that don’t mind fresh, new lore being introduced into their typical zombie stories. 


Alice in Zombieland will appeal to fans of:

YA Paranormal Romance
Romance: Instant-attraction,
but took forever for them to make it official.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

is currently available for purchase.

What did you think? Or is it on your to-read list?

Also, do you have a favorite zombie book?
Recommend some!


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


25 responses to “…on Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

    • I know, I was pretty excited about a retelling too, but I still enjoyed the book. Even though the cover isn't really related to the book at all, it IS very pretty and I do like the titles they are using in this series. The new take on zombies is strange but it works. I always appreciate when an author can take something and make it his/her own. It's a fun one! I read it pretty quickly because I didn't want to put it down.

  1. I didn't want to copy and paste the whole paragraph, but paragraph #4 completely summed up my feelings toward Ali and Cole. And I didn't mind that. I didn't mind any of it, which is it odd, because some of it can be chalked up to paranormal romance tropes, and yet Showalter executed it in a way that was appealing and interesting. For that alone, she gets claps from me.

    And the zombie bit – THE MIND BOGGLES. It was just so… different and unexpected. Which is just awesomesauce in my book. I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL, BRO!

    • Yeah, I don't really mind those feelings about Ali and Cole either. You're right – paranormal romance tropes, perfect description. I have hopes for them to make it through this series, though, because strangely for me whatever it is that they've FINALLY got works for me. Also, I think sometimes I fail to remember that the way they DID that back-and-forth thing is pretty much the way a lot of people do things at that stage in life/age. So, yeah, I liked them too.

      And yeah, those zombies were so strange being spirits and all, and with the mind and body splitting in order to fight – I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT. Nice job, author. I have zero imagination, but I love the heck out of someone that can write with a good imagination. I will be reading the next book too – WAHHH October 2013, right? Such a long time.

  2. Yay! I had read the first few chapters in Walmart but had to stop because I was leaving. It was really good and I was hoping the rest of the book was too. Great review!

  3. I really thought it was an Alice in Wonderland retelling with zombies woven in! But now that I've been warned, I can actually see myself possibly enjoying this book. It sounds very unique!

  4. Yeah, like you I expected this to be at least somewhat like the Lewis Carroll book, with zombie's and such. Honestly I never really gravitated to this one because I am not always a zombie fan (though I did just order a copy of Warm Bodies because I saw the film trailer and it was awesome!)

    But after reading you review and Lauren's I think this book might work for me after all. I haven't read any Gena Showalter yet either so it would be a first for me too.

    Love your detailed review and thanks for helping clear up some of the misconceptions:)

    • Sure thing! One neat thing about this book that I didn't mention is that there was a definitive style to the writing. I love it when an author has a style of his/her own. This being my first Showalter book, I can't compare it to her others, but I would imagine it sounds similar because it had a slightly urban fantasy feel to it.

      Also, I know I've told you already, but I just LOVED Warm Bodies. LOVED IT.

  5. I'll admit this was the first review I've read of this one…despite skipping the review on quite a few other blogs! lol. Oops.

    I for one assumed that it was a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. I just didn't think I was going to be into yet another "classic with zombies" book. Though I am enjoying the multitude of new zombie books. I like that people are playing with the mythology of the zombie character. I might wait and see what you think of #2 before proceeding though…

    • Yeah, I love zombie books so much but I tend to agree that the zombie + classics is a little bit saturated. I love it when authors take something popular and manipulate it a bit like with this one and Warm Bodies, like Heather mentioned above. This book was really fun. I'll definitely be reading book number two next year. I certainly flew thru this one. 🙂

  6. Wow great review! You have a great description about the nature of the zombies. That part definitely confused me at first – and I'll have to bookmark this review to come back to it before book two! I enjoyed this book and had several of the same problems that you did with it, but I agree that it was a lot of fun! I think knowing ahead of time that this isn't a retelling really helped me enjoy it more, because my expectations weren't off. I will say though that I didn't find this one to be super memorable, and though I'm sure I'll read and enjoy the next book, I'm not aching for it.

    • I think that overall this was just a case of a book that I enjoyed, and that is pretty much the extent of it, which is okay – I love these types of books. The literary elements, if you will, just weren't necessarily there – being that it was kind-of an urban fantasy (which I tend to love) I had fun reading it. It didn't require much of me.

      I was so thrown off by the combination of the clever title and pretty cover until I read your blog post, but I agree that knowing a little about it beforehand prevented me from getting my hopes up.

  7. I am glad that you were able to enjoy this book! I am also glad that you were able to separate it from Alice in Wonderland. Based on what I've read in reviews, I am not quite sure how I'd feel about this book. It does sound awfully misleading to me. I mean, the book's title, the image on the cover, the subscript mentioning "Off with their heads," and even mentions of a white rabbit? That's done intentionally, obviously, but if the author then wrote something that really can't be construed as a retelling, it makes me question all the allusions to Alice in Wonderland. Are readers supposed to be lured in by that ultimately untrue promise? haha I feel like these are the sort of questions that I'd have while reading the book, probably limiting my ultimate enjoyment of it. But I am so glad to read such a positive review and know that there is an audience out there for this book, even if it probably isn't me.

    • I've seen where a couple of other people have called it a retelling, but honestly I just didn't see the connection. Perhaps I'm missing things? The 'retelling' just isn't clear enough to me, although the borrowing with the title, cover, etc. is very clear and intentional. I don't really mind that all too much as long as I know going into the story that it isn't a retelling so I'm not disappointed.

      I agree that if you are looking for a truer retelling, you probably won't really love this one even though it has a beautiful package. If you don't mind a story that is a little different and presents a different lore, you might possibly like it. It is indeed different and I've seen mixed reviews. Is it my favorite zombie book out there? No, not at all. But it was interesting enough to make me want to keep reading despite the borrowed Alice in Wonderland references.

      I'm happy that I could clear up the 'retelling' part before you started reading it!

  8. Oh my goodness. This is a great review. I haven't heard of this book, or at least I don't think I have. I was very interested in seeing what you thought, because the summary seemed so interesting. But, based on your most awesome review [bows down and your feet], I think I'll pass on this. I'm over the insta-love-are-we-aren't-we YA model.

    Someone needs to come up with a new formula for young love, or is it just me?

    • I agree – a new formula is needed for the young love. But sometimes some of the authors get it right.

      These two just can't decide whether they are or aren't a couple for the longest time and for someone what normally doesn't get annoyed with reading books, I was getting close to becoming that way. More than that, though, I was pretty interested in the whole zombies-as-spirits thing, which was a little bit confusing but totally new to me. I'm gonna stick with this series and see what happens with the next book because I'm hoping the guy and the girl are past the point of trying to figure our their relationship and I want to know more about these odd zombies. When I read it next year, ya'll will probably know it. 🙂

  9. Hmm..I was interested in this book but I'm kind of disappointed there's not more Alice in Wonderland stuff. 🙁 And while I love twists on zombies, I totally wanted gory, gross nasty ones in Alice's wonderland! SNAP. Oh well, one less book on my neverending TBR I guess. 😉 Glad I read your (great) review though because I'm not quite sure this one's for me. I definitely like my zoms more on the sci-fi horror side rather than paranormal. Annnd instalove, ick. 🙁

    • Haha, Randi! You're so awesome. I love your comments.

      I don't mind insta-love so much if I think it is done well. In this case, ughhh, I'm not so sure that I'd classify it as being done well. HOWEVER, I am thinking this couple is past that hurdle. Hopefully. Maybe.

      Also about the zombies, I just love zombies period. All the way, baby! So when I read it and they were different, I was like WHOA WHAT IS THIS!!!??? The more I read about them being all spirit-y and different, the more interested I became. They're so unusual compared to what I'm used to. I completely applaud this author for taking something that is done often and spinning it all her own way because I have absolutely NO imagination whatsoever and could never ever do it. EVER. So even though it took me a little while to figure these zombies out, I think I have a little bit of a grasp on them now and I'm pretty invested in them.

      As far as the Alice in Wonderland thing goes – SIGH. I just don't know what to say. You know me well enough to know how I feel about covers. I just LOVE the marketing of books (I should have gone into publishing, seriously.) and I thought this package was so awesome. But it doesn't match the story. That being said, I'm seeing where some people ARE calling it a retelling, and it kind of makes me a little bit nervous because I just can't see it. So perhaps I'm wrong? But I don't really think so. I'm pretty familiar with AiW.

      Ultimately, I liked this book. I was hooked in because of the LOOK and the way it appealed to me in terms of how it was marketed, but it isn't a retelling, which was a little bit of a bummer. However, once I got into the story a bit, I was kind of all caught up in finding out about these zombies and now I am invested enough to stick around.

  10. I've never been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland so I don't mind that it's not a retelling. I've really been looking forward to this and after reading your review I'm even more anxious. Great job and thanks for the info! 🙂

  11. I think your review has just persuaded me to get my hands on a copy of this book ASAP! I honestly had no idea what it was about before reading this, but it has been recommended to me a few times and I've been interested. Now, after reading this review I feel like it's something I'd really enjoy. The zombies sound very different to anything I've come across and the fact that it's not a re-retelling isn't a problem either.

    Really good review, things were really clear and now I want to read this book!

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