Thursday, September 17, 2015

Melting Tingling Alice

Dear Baby Sis, please don't read this post, love your Biggest Sis.  Ok now that is out of the way, today we are going to ramble about The Collector's Society by Heather Lyons, the first in a series also called The Collector's Society.  I'm going to tell you two things right off the bat.  One I did not really like this book.  Two I am in a very small minority as the reviews on this thing show it to be insanely popular and well received.  Why is this?  I'll tell you but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Alice has returned from her third trip to Wonderland as a 25 year old woman.  She checks herself into a mental institution to try and essentially detox from her adventures in the hope that she can rejoin a normal Victorian English society.  All of this gets blown to pieces when she is invited by a Mr. Brom Van Brunt to join an organization known as the Collector's Society.  The only information she is given is that without her help Wonderland will be destroyed.  She agree's and they step through some sort of doorway into modern day New York City.  Here Alice meet's a host of characters that give her absolutely no information about anything, which is fine because Alice does not share anything either.  After a bit of not sharing back and forth Alice meets Finn Van Brut...formally known as Huckleberry Finn.  She falls in instant lust, melting every single time he so much as glances her way...which happens quit a bit.  Alice (and the reader) finally find out that the point of the Society is to find the catalyst for each Timeline.  A Timeline is a world that comes to life somehow when a book or series of books, or an author becomes widely read and loved.  Apparently each Timeline has a catalyst that if destroyed will destroy the Timeline...I'm not sure in anyway shape or form how this works, or why it works, or how it was discovered, or how a Timeline can disappear when the books are still around and loved, or well all kinds of stuff that makes no sense but is never explained.  Anyways the Society sends agents (who are usually characters or related in someway to the characters in other all gets very meta)  into the Timelines to collect the catalysts to keep them safe from some sort of villain that for some reason is destroying the Timelines.  The majority of the first two thirds of the book however is taken up with Alice keeping some sort of secret from everybody including the reader, while also melting and having the little hairs stand up on the back of her neck every time Finn is so much as thought of.  Finn (who is an impossibly stand up guy) seems to reciprocate the melting and the tingling and the secret keeping.  So pretty much we have a very repetitive secret romance going for a really long time.  Eventually the book picks up a bit when we FINALLY get to Wonderland.  We discover that Alice was made the Queen of Diamonds and fell in love with the White King.  Because of some sort of screwed up Wonderland politics, Alice agreed to leave Wonderland in the hopes of alleviating the suffering of her people.  Alice, Finn and a couple of their friends (Victor the son of Dr. Frankenstein and Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden) go to Wonderland to get Alice's crown which is the catalyst for this Timeline.  They enter a Wonderland in the middle of a brutal war and eventually meet up with the White King who aids them in their quest.  There are some moments between Alice and the White King, but she makes a choice to stay with Finn in the new world she is now part of.  They bring the crown back and melt and tingle some more and we never figure out anything else because that is what the next books are for.
In case you didn't pick up on it, I did not really like this book.  In general it felt like a rote romance book with a potentially couple of good idea's thrown in that suffered from execution issues.  I'll go through what bugged me the most, and then tell what parts I did like.  To start with the book was in first person, so we were stuck in Alice's head, which was problematic for many reasons.  First off, she did not know ANYTHING so we didn't either and we only got an extremely limited view of what was going on in this new world.  This works if the character learns and discovers as they go, but that was not the case.  Second of all, even though we are stuck in Alice's head, we are not even privy to her thoughts and secrets so pretty much we spend the vast majority of the book with vague, yet overly dramatic phrases meant to keep everything in the dark.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves when an author drags out a supposed secret or bit of information for no other reason then to try and keep you reading.  This is especially aggravating when the secret finally gets revealed and really is not that big of a deal.  There was nothing that got revealed that made me gasp out loud.  The romance drove me absolutely batty.  I am not a huge fan of romance novels in general, mostly because they all feel like the same book to me and at least on the romance side to me this book was no exception.  Alice was supposed to be this strong kick-ass character, but she spent the majority of the book alternating between dramatically declaring to herself that she does not want to have any sort of human contact with Finn and melting and tingling and going weak kneed every time Finn is even mentioned.  This happens over and over and over and over and the worst part is the author uses pretty much the exact same phrasing in every angsty encounter.  Even worse, when they finally get together and have sexy time...well lets just say it was so tame and bland and repetitive that I would let my eight year old nephew read it (ok not really, but you get the point). Finn was waaaaaay to perfect to be of any interest to me.  He was always doing an over the top good guy thing, with his only real flaw being his getting super angry when those he loves are hurt, seriously I don't see the appeal.  The White King was a much more interesting and complex character and I would have loved to spent more time with him.  Ok let's move on.  Getting away from Alice for a few minutes the premise of the book could have been pretty cool except for the fact that I still don't really know what it is.  It felt like the author had an idea about using characters from different books to create a society to protect books, but let it get to complicated with no real world building at all.  We never really get a good explanation for anything.  There were a couple of parts I did enjoy.  I liked it when Alice wasn't getting all angsty and just had conversations or some very witty one liners.  What I really liked was the time spent in Wonderland, I really wish the author had pretty much skipped everything else and just written this future Wonderland.  I like the idea of Alice as an adult and the potential adjusting from Wonderland back to her home.  This idea would have been plenty for a really great book.  I am most definitely in the minority in my feelings on this book, the vast majority of the reviews have been very positive and glowing.  I am thrilled that so many people love.  It's books like this that prove my point that not every book is for every person and just because everybody else loved it, doesn't mean I have to.  Nor does every book I love have to be a home run for anybody else.  Overall I give this book 4 out of 10 cups of tea and recommend to anybody who enjoys romance, or some potentially good ideas.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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