By Juno Dawson
Published by Quercus 2020
What it’s about?
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.
What I think:
This book follows Clean and Meat Market in Juno Dawson’s trilogy of novels sent in a hedonistic teen London. While each of the books stand alone there are common themes being explored and some crossover characters. Particularly between Clean and Wonderland.
This book has been described as Gossip Girl on acid and you can see why. Rich, privileged teens party, take drugs, wear expensive clothes and dominate social media. The high society circles they move in are largely free from adult supervision unless parents are coming in to help cover up scandals.
Alice is such an interesting character. Transgender, she has lived as a girl from a young age and has only been known as a girl at St Agnes, the exclusive private school she attends.
Alice is an outsider for many reasons. She distances herself from other because of her gender and mental health issues. Other people don’t accept her because although rich, she is “new money” and her mother has worked for her wealth. Alice is aware of both her prejudices and privileges.
This story is about Alice finding herself. Her search for Bunny actually helps her understand lots about herself. She is genuinely shocked when her biggest secret, that she is transgender, is actually quite widely known and on the whole her fellow students don’t care.
The characters she meets all have issues of their own: grief, addiction, violence, Alice comes across it all. And finds herself in some very real danger.
The Alice in Wonderland retelling is very cleverly done. Lots of names and scenarios are adapted. Lots of Alive in Wonderland quites are used in dialogue. But it never feels contrived.
I really enjoyed this book. Paisley Hart is such a wonderfully hideous creation I think her story would be a great read.
You can take a trip to Wonderland:
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here