by Juno Dawson
YA Contemporary, Mystery
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.
Wonderland was my third read for #LGBTQMonth and it was very obvious to me when I started planning my TBR that this would be a book that I was going to read! I love Juno Dawson as a writer and had high hopes for this. Did it deliver? Let’s find out.
Wonderland is a clever contemporary retelling of the classic story we all know and love. I was excited to see how Juno would explore something like this with her dark tone and I was intrigued to see how it would fit into the “loose” London trilogy (the other books being Clean and Meat Market). After an unforgettable night with a friend called Bunny, Alice is distraught when the former goes missing and nobody seems to care. She decides if she wants something done then she must do it herself, but when her quest for Bunny leads her to Wonderland, an extravagant party for the elite, she runs into more trouble than anticipated.
This was another good novel from Juno. Such a quick read that I didn’t want to put down. The pacing was definitely Wonderland‘s strength—I was never bored at any point and Dawson definitely keeps the reader on their toes. Alice was a fantastic character and the setting was quite unique to a YA novel. Some unforgettable antagonistic characters weaved their way into this one and at no point did I know who to trust or who to root for, even Alice herself.
I don’t think this was quite as strong as some of her other books, especially Meat Market and I have to say I found the ending a bit underwhelming. I felt as though the conflict was wrapped up far too quickly and far too easily, and I wonder if this was a little longer there would have been more room to tie it up nicely.
Overall, a fun, enjoyable novel from Dawson but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation from her catalogue.