I’m only writing this out after reading a novel about Alice in Wonderland and I… I felt empowered to speak about my favorite novel. I did not feel empowered to edit, however, and so it is coming out weeks after I read it.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was hardly the first book I ever read in my life. It was not the first one my mother read to me. It was not my first fantasy. It was not my first adventure. It was not my first classic. It was not my first anything, but it is my favorite.
In many ways this makes me extremely critical to any and all renditions of it in any medium. In the end, my favorite version is the original.
When I read or see renditions I expect three things:
Alice is easy. She’s always there. She’s the main character, or the character is related to her. There is some way she’s mentioned. This mentioning is important to me and the placement between this world and the book.
The next two are far harder and go hand in hand with each other.
With mayhem there is whimsy. There is good there is bad, there is grey. There is magic, there is chaos. There is beauty, there is disaster. Mayhem and Whimsy are needed for me to love a Alice rendition.
Why? Because the original book had it. It is whimsical, filled with uphills and magic. There is a fantastical element and surprise. The mayhem intertwines with the whimsy, creating havoc and desperation. For all the magical things Alice discovers there is trouble afoot. She grows. She shrinks. She cries an ocean. She meets the Queen of Hearts. There is a trial. There is so much adventure, and its impossible to follow the entire way through.
In renditions, this is the heart that I look for. Many times the rendition gets the whimsy, but it does not get the mayhem. Or it takes the mayhem and makes it a battle. I am not looking for war. I am not looking for disaster. I am looking for situations that happen and craziness to ensue outside of anyone’s particular control. I’m looking for the grey area, not black or white, in the magic of the world.
We always get the magic.
But we tend to get black and white, good and evil, not the balance of the two.
One Alice rendition that I like is the Splintered trilogy. In this trilogy, our main character enters into Underland to reclaim her family crown (surprise). However what makes this novel series so great to me is the chaos. Nothing is black or white. Chaos is everywhere and the characters breathe it. Its the chaos that brings the magic, and the magic that brings the chaos. While it does have an underlining good vs. bad narrative, it is one of the few that accept the duality of the story and the duality of the sentiments (plus the love triangles’ conclusion is pretty fantastic).
In a rendition, unless I hate it, I will always have a soft spot for it. Because of Alice, because of the story that I go back to and quote from time to time.
I love Alice. I love stories about Alice (though I will judge them). I just also love chaos with my magic. It’s my cup of tea.