Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice, as she went hunting about, and called out to her in an angry tone, `Why, Mary Ann, what ARE you doing out here? Run home this moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!' And Alice was so much frightened that she ran off at once in the direction it pointed to, without trying to explain the mistake it had made.
`He took me for his housemaid,' she said to herself as she ran. `How surprised he'll be when he finds out who I am! But I'd better take him his fan and gloves--that is, if I can find them.'
From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew's Wonderland is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel that revisits the world Lewis Carroll created. But instead of Alice, the protagonist is Mary Ann, the housemaid the White Rabbit mistakes her for in the original book. When Kelly from The Written World and I noticed we'd read it at the same time by coincidence (it's probably the fifth time something like that happens this year, seriously), we decided to review it together. This time we used a conversation format, and I'm posting part two of our discussion. Please make sure you visit Kelly and read part one first; otherwise this won't make much sense!
Ana: Those were the first two I happened to think of, but there are definitely plenty of others these days. I liked Wicked, but I haven't read the other series yet. I tend to love retellings, but I notice that what determines if they work for me is whether or not they add something new to the original story. One of the reasons why I liked Wicked so much is because Maguire's Oz is both instantly familiar and a completely new, rich, detailed world - you said that you liked the idea of it, so I'll assume we agree on this! I think that building something new out of a literary work we already know takes as much skill and creativity as creating a world from scratch.
Which is why it saddens me when people say that authors who do it are lazy or just trying to cash in on someone else's success. This isn't to say, of course, that this isn't true in some cases. I'm not going to be mean and say that Wonderland is one of them, but it disappointed me that Kovac didn't add anything new to Carroll's world. I loved revisiting, sure, but I'd have loved it even more if I had been able to see a side of Wonderland I've never seen before.
Re-reading my answer reminded me of Peter David's lovely Tigerheart, which reimagines Barrie's Neverland. So I'm going to go ahead and recommend it to you and to anyone reading this. Time for an unoriginal question: what did you think of the ending?
Kelly: Just what I need, another book to add to the wish list! I think that one is on there all ready, though, so maybe I just need to move it up the wish list! I totally get you when you say that something new has to be added to the story in order to make it worthwhile.
As to the answer to the question. I am actually sitting here trying to think about it and mostly coming up blank! I got the book from the library, so I have all ready taken it back. I am trying to remember my original opinion upon the conclusion of the book, though. I really feel nothing! I didn't hate the ending, but I didn't really love it either. I don't find that it really concluded anything. I really hope they are not hoping for a sequel! If the art was the same, I would be so there, but unless they put their creative hats on a sequel is not a good idea at all. Mary Ann is still really the same at the end of the book. She is still obsessed with cleaning and she is still pretty subservient. I don't find that all that much was accomplished with the ending. Really, I just don't feel anything about the ending. When I read the book I enjoyed the few glimpses of familiar characters, Mary Ann drove me crazy, and the art was fantastic. That is my opinion of this book in a nutshell! You?
Ana: Yep, you've summed it up pretty well. I asked you about the ending because it really reinforced my feeling that the story had been kind of pointless. Mary Ann is still the same - she has been instrumental in causing some changes in Wonderland, but I was left with the feeling that it all happened sort of accidentally, and that none of it was of as much consequence as it ought to have been. I was also disappointed that the connection between Mary Ann and Alice that the story hints at is never fully developed. I don't know, maybe part of the problem was that I expected something different.
I'm probably beginning to sound like I hated this book, but I really didn't - I just think it's probably better to appreciate it as a quick return to Wonderland and as an Alice on Wonderland art book. And I would recommend it for that alone. I know I'll be returning to it just to look at the art! I'll also definitely look for more work illustrated by Sonny Liew. And so that it doesn't sound like I hated the story so much I vow never to read Tommy Kovac again, let me add that his comics Autumn and Stitch also sound really good.
Kelly: I agree with you. I didn't really hate it either, but it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I want to buy it, really - just so I can look at the pictures! It's a great book for the read-a-thon, actually. You can sort of read the story, look at the pretty pictures, and feel like you accomplished something when you start to get too tired! Consider it a recommendation. Otherwise, I think I have said pretty much everything that I feel needs to be talked about. It wasn't a very long book, so there is not a lot to discuss. This chat style was fun, though! We are going to have to do it again!
Ana: I second your recommendation for the read-a-thon, and yes, we'll have to do this again!
I ended up taking a bit of an unplanned blogging break these past few days for personal reasons - many thanks to those of you who contacted me to make sure everything was okay. That some of you worried after only five days is probably a sign of how obsessive my blogging habits usually are!
But in all seriousness, I very much appreciate it, and I want to apologize for having been so horrible at responding to comments here and at bloghopping lately. I really don't want to neglect anyone, but...well, I'm sure you know how it is. So even though I hate to do it, I think the only way not to drive myself crazy is to click the dreaded "mark all as read" button in Google Reader, start from scratch this week, and hope I'll be better able to keep up with things in the future. Thank you again for caring!