Review: Wonderland by Juno Dawson

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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…

Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review!

I haven’t read any of Juno’s fiction before and I was super excited for this. It was really intriguing and sounded wacky. I heard Juno read aloud from it back in February/March and I was so drawn into it, I knew I had to pick it up. I’ve had my copy since release, as I was lucky enough to receive a proof! However, I have only just managed to pick it up as part of our non-binary November readathon. I wanted to mention that I haven’t read the other two books in the ‘series’, but as I understand these are standalones that have cameos in each one.

The concept of this book was amazing and I really loved the idea. It is a modern reinterpretation of Alice in Wonderland which follows Alice, who is a trans girl in a private school, and her friend Bunny, who is missing. The way this was written was incredible clever, with interwoven quotes and references to the story which I loved. The setting was a very exclusive party for the high class students of the school, called Wonderland. Alice managed to sneak into this following finding an invitation she found in Bunny’s locker. I loved the scenes travelling ‘down the rabbit hole’ to the party and the party itself. It was magical and reminded me of something out of Willy Wonka.

In fact, the setting was probably my favourite part. It felt fantastical and was, again, very clever. I also loved the discussion of gender and sexuality, with Alice discussing her own journey of being transgender and pansexual. She is very open about her body and sex-positive, and I feel like these discussions will be really important to some readers. I really felt for her and some of the things she had to go through felt exhausting.

But unfortunately, that’s where my love ended for this book. A lot of it actually felt quite problematic for me and I just felt slightly uncomfortable reading it. I personally didn’t enjoy the casual sex/sleeping around, as I just didn’t relate to it and how Alice felt. I also felt like the excessive drug use just wasn’t for me. I understand that because of the nature of Alice in Wonderland itself, it was kind of needed in terms of retelling the story, but it also didn’t sit right with me in terms of normalising a lot of this stuff for young people.

CW: Attempted date rape, bipolar episodes/hallucinations/ intrusive thoughts, suicide, drug use, casual sex.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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2 thoughts on “Review: Wonderland by Juno Dawson

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