Premise: After following a strange rabbit down a super-deep hole, Alice finds herself in a magical land. During her time there, Alice interacts with a variety of strange creatures.
Title: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll
Length: 92 pages (depending on the edition)
Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 of 2
Content appropriate for: Grades 6-8
Three adjectives that describe this book: strange, challenging, confusing
I am in the middle of the Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics books in 5 years. My list is comprised entirely of children's books. I really enjoyed The Wizard of Oz, and for some reason I expected Alice in Wonderland to be a similar experience. Wrong Wrong Wrong. So hold onto your hat, because I'm about to get very blasphemous.
Okay, enough stalling - here's my review:
Alice in Wonderland is strange. That's the main thing. Over the course of 100ish pages weird things happen. It almost reads like Lewis Carroll was just trying to figure out what the weirdest things were that could happen, and then he put those exact things all together in a book with absolutely no sense-making. Case in point:
List of Weird Things in the Book
* Swimming in a lake made of your own tears
* Rocks become cakes
* Dancing with lobsters
* Dancing with lobsters actually means throwing them in the ocean
* A baby that's really a pig
* Everything you eat or drink makes Alice (no one else...) grow or shrink over and over again
Apparently Alice in Wonderland is actually an example of a genre called Literary Nonsense. Maybe if I had known that, I would have been prepared for the insanity and lack of plot. But I, erroneously, expected a great story. Instead, it's just a collection of weird characters and strange events.
Most frustrating for me, was that large chunks of the story consisted of poems which Alice tries to recite. She makes mistakes each time, which she sees as proof that she must have changed. These pieces would make more sense if I actually knew the original poems. That way I would be able to spot the mistakes that Alice makes.
Ultimately, I'm not sure how to rate Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's a classic. Lots of people love it. It is a shining example of Literary Nonsense. But it is also bizarre, with no plot and almost no coherent world-building.