ARC Review: Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter
Normal. That’s all Ali wants to be. But noooo, her father sees monsters no one else can, won’t let her out past dark, forces her to train in hand-to-hand combat, and spends most of his time either fortifying their house against a supposedly-impending attack or drinking himself into a stupor. In one tragic night, however, Alice learns just how wrong she was to doubt and ridicule him, when she loses everything and begins to see the very creatures responsible. Ali knows she has a choice: hide, pretend it never happened, and try to go on with her shattered life, or go out and wreak vengeance on the creatures who took her family from her. Alice in Zombieland is original and compelling, and a GraveTells “must read”!
- Title: Alice in Zombieland
- Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles book #1
- Author: Gena Showalter
- Prominent Characters: Ali, Cole, Kat, Frosty
- Recommended Reader Age: 14+
- Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
- Sexual Content Level: Very light, some heavy kissing
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Alice in Zombieland is riveting and addicting… from the very first sentence. Ali loses her family to a zombie attack in the beginning of the book; that’s no spoiler, she mourns about it in the prologue. What completely blindsided me, however, was how deep and intense her grief was and how much it affected me. Here I am sniffling and tearing up on the train on my commute home, barely 10 minutes after picking up the book! I probably looked as funny as the lady across from me who was talking to herself.
Ali’s friend Kat is a veritable whirlwind, a tornado of peppy energy and urban slang of her own creation. Just listening to her talk makes me feel exhausted, but she is so vibrant and engaging, she really shines out of the pages. Ali’s first friend after the accident, Kat manages to weave her way into just about all of Ali’s personal business… meaning we get to see a lot of her. She’s a freaking force of nature, and hella fun.
On to Cole Holland, the mysterious bad boy of the school who is both a fearsome leader and a classic gentleman. His periodic scrapes and bruises, thunderous scowls, and devilishly handsome serial killer face make him a force to be reckoned with… or persistently avoided… and he somehow has a strange otherworldly connection to our Alice, transporting them off into dreamland whenever they see each other every morning.
Of course, you can’t talk about Alice in Zombieland without a huge nod to our fearless heroine, Alice aka Ali. Quirky and driven, Ali has a spine of steel and a heart of gold. She’s self-sufficient and more than a little skilled as a fighter, and her guilt over her family and friends’ deaths keeps her determination rigidly focused on ridding the world of zombies. Not every author can pull off believable (and enjoyable) modern teenage slang (Ali & co.) while also humorously bastardizing it into something my grandparents might try to use to talk on a teenager’s level. It helps give the characterization, which is already brilliant, depth and engaging humor.
This might be a young adult book, but the sexual tension between Ali and Cole is palpable and electric, and the scenes are blazing with chemistry even though its all relatively tame. I found myself pushing on just for another taste of that addictive connection between them, not even considering the expert writing skills Ms. Showalter brings to all her work. This is a book every lover of PNR and YA will want to read… and even some who have turned up their noses at the genre. Alice in Zombieland is just good ole monster-slaying fun!
A note from Alice…
Had anyone told me that my entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, I 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 I knew and loved was gone.
My name is Alice Bell, and on the night of my sixteenth birthday I lost the mother I loved, the sister I adored and the father I never understood until it was too late. Until that heartbeat when my entire world collapsed and a new one took shape around me.
My father was right. Monsters walk among us.
Hey, I’d have looked… and stared… too
“Don’t look now, but that’s my ex over there.”
Surely I’m not the only one who takes “don’t look now” as “there’s no better time than now.” I looked.
“Bad Ali!” Another slap to my arm. “Bad, bad, bad Ali! Have you no self control?”
“Sorry.” I rubbed away the sting. Did I stop looking, though? No. I stared. Hard.
Meet scary smexy badass Cole Holland…
He was gorgeous, and I absolutely, no question, had to be drooling. After a quick and hopefully stealthy check – big shock, I wasn’t! – I found myself wondering what color his eyes were. Brown maybe. Or even hazel. Either way… wow, just wow. Deer? Headlights? Hi, I’m Ali.
Definitely down the rabbit hole…
“You did the right thing,” Cole said, probably sensing my regret.
I stuffed the phone in my pocket and gripped my knees. ”I know.” That didn’t make me feel any better.
He reached over and pried my fingers loose. He brought my injured knuckles to his lips and kissed them. ”Don’t worry. You’re part of my world now. I’ll teach you how to survive it.”
If you liked Alice in Zombieland…
If you enjoyed Alice in Zombieland for the stellar, gripping prose of Gena Showalter, you’ll have your hands full making a dent in her collection of other published works. Assuming you were drawn to AiZ for its paranormal aspect, check out Gena’s Lord of the Underworld series, starting with The Darkest Night (Maddox’s story). GT also reviewed Gena’s contribution to the Harlequin Nocturne Royal House of Shadows series (our 2011 Series of the Year), Lord of the Vampires. Both the Lords of the Underworld and Royal House of Shadows series are for mature readers and contain moderately high sexual content, so if a little heat is what you like, look no further!
For another Young Adult paranormal with originality and action, check out Thomas Winship’s Vaempires series, starting with Vaempires: Revolution.
Finally, if a gritty, dangerous world with a spunky, brave, take-no-shit heroine is what you seek, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, starting with Angel’s Blood, is for you! Nalini was our 2011 Author of the Year, and Angel’s Blood was chosen as Reviewer Top Pick in December 2011.
These zombies are not your typical brain-eating, slow-moving, grunting and stupid automatons with a shuffling gait. They are scary, fast, and feel frighteningly real. I’m not a zombie kind of gal. I don’t like horror, gore, or things that go bump in the night. I find rotting flesh and nomming brains way more disgusting than entertaining, and I like my action books dosed with a healthy heaping of steamy, sweaty naughtiness. Based on all that, you’d think Alice in Zombieland is definitely not my kind of story, but this book is GOOD! With very little sexual content, Alice and Cole steam up the pages (can I have my own Cole? Pretty please?), and even the down and dirty zombie scenes had me wanting more, more, more!
If you like paranormal romance and urban fantasy and only read 5 books this year, Gena Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland should be on that list! In a genre where ‘original’ is quickly giving way to ‘same old regurgitated plot’, AiZ is fresh and unique, and a GraveTells “must read”!
Rating: Alice in Zombieland