I am so confused... Utterly bewildered by this book. I'm not quite sure what I just read, all I know isthat I really did love it.
I just finished reading Insanity by Cameron Jace. It's a part of a series called Mad In Wonderland, and there's a sequel that was just released at the start of December, I think, which I just downloaded from the kindle store. I'm super-duper keen to get into that.
So Insanity is, as you probably gathered from the title, insane. It's possibly the most mental book you'll ever read. I personally would label it as a psychological thriller, paranormal fairytale retelling. Insanity is about Lewis Carroll's famous story of Alice In Wonderland. I was intrigued from the beginning, when it was recommended for me on goodreads (as you may know, I love young adult psychological thrillers so if you know any good ones let me know in the comments or via my various social media sites). Here's the goodreads synopsis-
After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.
So as you may have already gathered, Insanity follows the story of Alice Plesance Wonder, a girl who now lives in a mental asylum and cannot remember anything past a week before. Everyone tells her she's been there for two years, since killing all her classmates, including her boyfriend, on a bus. The only person who believes she isn't an insane maniac is a slightly mad serial killer professor, Carter Pillar. Together they try to solve the mystery in the outside world- a serial killer is on the loose, killing young girls. So Alice leads her double life, trying to solve the mystery and save the next victim of this strange killer.
I don't want to get too deep into the story in the non-spoilery section, so if it interests you, I would very much recommend it as a quick, maddening read. It's the type of story that sucks you in, spins you around and spits you out.
disclaimer I have never read Alice In Wonderland so I may miss certain things due to this... feel free to leave a comment pointing out things I've missed/didn't interpret correctly
I can barely even process this book. It's so very odd that it was always keeping you on your toes, never actually knowing what's going on. In that respect, it really felt like Mara Dyer, which I loved. I read it in three sittings; the only thing that could tear me away from it was eating, sleeping and helping my cousin and sister make cookies.
Firstly, the characters. I liked almost all of them, but they were all so mad. Alice I found might've been an unreliable narrator. I was always reminding myself that anything she was doing could've been a hallucination, but it did end up appearing that she wasn't hallucinating. There were times where she scared me, though; she was so unpredictable! Particularly when she was escaping and when she was pretending to be mental in order to meet with Margaret Kent, when she said, "Insanity is so fun".
I did, however, find the synopsis to be a tad misleading. I expected Jack Diamonds to be a really, prominent character. I expected a much more heavy part of the storyline to focus on him and his relationship with Alice. But in actuality, Jack isn't in it all that much. He makes a few
stalkery appearances, but appart from that, he isn't that involved until the end. I did like him, and possibly would've liked it even more had he been more heavily featured. I would've loved a Mara Dyer/Noah Shaw style relationship where they both kind of embrace their own and each other's madness, and they develop a sort of relationship where they're still very independent but at the same time, they need one another. Well, that's where I'd like them to end up at the finish of this series. I also called the plot twist, where we found out that he was possibly Adam, Alice's boyfriend who she "killed". Well, that's how I interpreted it, I'm still not quite sure what was real and what was not in this book. I had a feeling Jack might be Adam, and I was extremely pleased when we found out he was. I think it'll be great watching her rediscover Adam/Jack not in the way she first did but through this new character (Jack). I can't wait to see what Cameron Jace does with this.
Pillar was the sort of character I liked but didn't. He was sort of like a high, crazy, slightly sociopathic version of Dumbledore. Whenever I found myself liking him and his eccentric, sarcastic wit, I reminded myself that he too was a serial killer, that he really shouldn't be trusted. His character really divided me, and I am excited to see Pillar's further adventures in the next book.
Fabiola was just the perfect character. She was calm, graceful and lovely, but she also was super strong. One of my favourite parts of the book was when they were fighting the Reds and she whipped out that sword, and said, "I have to kill them fast, I have to attend prayers in a few". I loved that one minute, she was a beautiful, respected nun, and then the next, she was the White Queen, whipping out her sword and kicking butt.
The Cheshire was creepy. It kind of ruined my perception of him from the film, the sort of cutesy, whimsical cat with a big grin. For a while, I hoped he was possessed or being forced to do what he was doing, but unfortunately not. His motive, however, was clear, if not a little separate from the story. The whole backstory of his family being thrown out of the window was very different from the rest of the story, but it might have something to do with the original Alice In Wonderland book, which, as I previously mentioned, I have never read.
I did suspect something odd was up with Waltraud and Ogier; they were just too creepy. But eventually, I just put it down to the fact that the whole asylum was a twisted place. I certainly didn't expect that the Cheshire would be Ogier.
All the other characters, Margaret Kent, Tom Truckle and etc were sort of just there for me. They didn't really have any long lasting impact on me, except for the fact I'd love to know Margaret's back story and Tom kind of reminded me of a corrupt cop, or something like that. I did, despite this, find myself rather liking Tom's character, oddly enough, and I really appreciated the dynamic between Tom and Pillar.
The actual story was really dark. I definitely preferred when she was outside of the asylum, doing the missions for Pillar. The whole idea of having all the characters from Wonderland recreated as modern-day people was really quite ingenious, and I kept wanting to meet more and more of them. I am extremely eager to see characters like the Red Queen, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter in future books.
I'm also very scared of what the Cheshire is going to do in the next few books, and whether we're going to end up seeing a full-fledged Wonderland War.
Then there's the issue of whether Alice is the "Real Alice", the one who Lewis Carroll wrote about. It's pretty clear she is, but the only one who seems to think so is Pillar. Until the end, when Fabiola confesses that she doesn't know whether Alice is the Real Alice, and we're back to speculation.
I think that Alice is the Real Alice. I think she has to be, and I can't think of anyone else who could be the Real Alice. For a short time, I thought it might be Constance, but it appears she is not. But to be perfectly honest, this book confused me so much I'm not even that sure...
I assume that once I read the next book I'll have more of a handle on this story and I'll be able to compose my thoughts more clearly... but until then, feel free to leave your opinions of Insanity in the comments, my twitter @lilypherondale (the link is up the top of the page) or my tumblr, sherlockcrumpets (the link is up the top of the page).
Have a great day!