13 July 2014

Review: Insanity - Cameron Jace

Alice Pleasance Wonder is a patient in an insane asylum, locked up for the murder of several classmates two years ago. The problem is, she can't remember any of it, and she definitely can't remember ranting on about going to Wonderland when she was seven years old. Life is a boring ritual until one day another inmate known as 'Pillar the Killer' takes a sudden interest in her, and gives her the mans to escape her confines every day in exchange for her assistance. Carter Pillar has a motive though, and Alice is quickly swept up into a mad hunt for the Cheshire Cat killer and a little girl who has been kidnapped by him.

If there was ever a book that has gone well beyond the expectations of research, it is this one. It is utterly filled to the brim with quotes, characters and references from the original Alice in Wonderland books as well as Carroll's other works. It has dipped into the life of Lewis Carroll as well in order to give a cohesive and twisty plot. Most of this information is absolutely integral to the plot, meaning that unlike other books, nothing has just been thrown in. In fact, the whole idea of the reincarnation of the Wonderland monsters in modern human beings fits in a flows flawlessly with every part of the research.

The book is named Insanity for good reason; the main theme is madness and what it is to be insane. Alice continually questions herself, her sanity and her actions throughout the entire book and sometime this can feel quite repetetive, however the truth is that the original book is much the same; it questions the very belief in madness, what we think it is and what the reality might be. If everyone is mad, does that mean that really we are all sane? If someone believes they are sane, does that mean they are mad, because sane people tend to question themselves? Finally, is a mad person just someone who knows too much? Insanity captures this idea and questions it thoroughly. The book reflects its inspiration beautifully, as someone may say something totally odd, and yet in the context it completely makes sense. (Note to self: why is a raven like a writing desk?)

The 2010 film of Alice in Wonderland seems to have played an enormous part in the conception of this book. In both retellings, Alice continually questions whether she is the right Alice, she has the ability to save people even though she hasn't tried before, she is older and cannot remember her original trip to Wonderland. Also, Tim Burtons Wonderland and Cameron Jaces story are both powerfully dark retellings of this classic story, taking on a much more sinister tone.

A small note on characters; I didn't really ever feel for the characters. Even Alice was separated from me, even though I could understand her actions and her feelings perfectly well. Every character introduced did not have the depth that I would have wanted in the book. Bearing in mind this is a small book, and appears to be part of a series, this may not be so bad, as the characters will continue to grow and develop throughout. I will say though, that although Alice did have a character arc, it crashed down in flames at the end, which really makes me wonder what is going to happen in the next book.

Insanity on Goodreads