Wonderland by Juno Dawson
Published By: Quercus Children’s Books
Released: 28th May 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.
Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.
Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…
A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.
Trigger Warnings: Self harm, suicide, mental health, sexual assault, murder and drug use.
When her friend, Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with trying to find her. On the trail, Alice finds a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’ – the party to end all parties for the most elite. Thinking she will find Bunny there, Alice sneaks in and finds herself in the twisted underworld of privileged teenagers and their life of drugs, sex and hedonistically. Alice, being all alone and without her medication starts to trust no one, and is soon on the radar of a new enemy.
There is a reason why Juno Dawson is the queen of YA and it’s because of her gritty, addictive stories which pull you in almost straight away, and Wonderland was one of those. I knew I was going to be in for a ride when I started reading, but I wasn’t expecting the ride to be so full of twists, turns and intrigue. Honestly, I didn’t want to put this book down and devoured it in a day and a half.
Wonderland is a twist on a beloved classic and I was all for that! As someone who loves the original Alice in Wonderland, I was intrigued to see how Juno played with it to make it into its unique creation. I must tell you, it was amazing! It definitely had the craziness of the original but it was certainly a lot trippier. At times it felt like I was taking the drugs, but I feel that that was the way Juno wanted you to feel when you were reading it. All the Alice in Wonderland references, were also, brilliant. I got such a kick at trying to match up the characters in Wonderland to the characters in the original, and to say some surprised me would be an understatement. Wonderland really is Alice in Wonderland with a gossip girl style twist.
Juno’s books are known for dealing with some pretty dark topics and this was no different. Topics dealt with in Wonderland ranged from self harm, suicide and mental health to sexual assault and drug use. I must admit, that in this book some of these topics get pretty graphic at times and this may put people off reading a bit. However, what I took away from it was that things like this are happening in real life and that we all need to be more aware of how harrowing it can be, to be on the receiving end of them. I think these issues were dealt with very well, but you may want to bare these in mind when you first start reading. What I also found interesting was how privilege, luxury and corruption were dealt with. To see these rich teens go down a path of almost complete and utter self destruction was something that I found fascinating to read about. Money doesn’t always mean happiness, it can mean going down a dark path to reach the top.
Alice, was such a complex character that I found myself captivated by. Firstly, I loved loved the fact she was trans, as we definitely need a lot more Trans rep in YA. Her thoughts about her body, and the way it looked also stood out to me. It felt like we were getting deep into her mind, and body issues aren’t spoken about enough in books with a trans character. Also, the way that Alice is sexualised is something that did shock me. You did get deep into the way the trans community can be treated, and it was pretty troubling to read about at certain times. Nevertheless, this will also, hopefully raise awareness of this issue and I do have my fingers crossed. What I also love about Alice was her voice; the snarkiness of it and the fact that I agreed with a lot she had to say. When things within the story take a dark turn, her voice does change ever so slightly but this makes you feel all of her confusion and pain. Alice is certainly a character that I’m not going to forget for a long while.
Wonderland was a compelling, engaging read which does show you how gritty the world of privilege and luxury can be. Its addictive, trippy style and intriguing, thrilling plot will certainly pull you in and leave you mesmerised.