3 out of 4 stars
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Alice White is an intelligent girl with a short fuse. Following her mother’s death, Alice’s anger issues skyrocket. When Alice punches a boy at school in the face, the school suspends her. Since her father is a busy scientist and cannot pick up his calls, Alice has to live with her Aunt Martha and Uncle Bertie in their countryside estate to introspect and control her temper.
Alice’s relatives, who she had no prior knowledge of, are nothing like what she expected; they are witty, kind, and soon begin to win her over. What is supposed to be a suspension time filled with introspection and calmness soon becomes one of action, lucid dreaming, and entering Wonderland. More than the monsters in Wonderland, there are bad, powerful people in real life who want the secret of safe passage and want to destroy Wonderland. Who can Alice trust when she does not yet know what is real and what is not?
I did not quite know what to expect from an adult book inspired by Alice in Wonderland. But Martin Baynton took the fantasy tale and carved a well-formed path of his own with The Secret of Safe Passage. I must say that the author outdid himself with the book's original storyline. The book begins in a whirlwind manner. Even though I was trying to make sense of what was going on, I was hooked by the time I had finished reading the prologue. There was no slow point; I loved it because it made me finish the book (which is over 400 pages) quickly and crave for more.
I found the author’s use of words impressive. I felt all the emotions that every character, especially Alice, was feeling intensely. When Alice ran across the estate grounds, I felt out of breath, as if I had run with her. When Aunt Martha burst out in tears, I could not help but feel it too. Almost every moment made my heart race, and I could not flip the pages fast enough. I enjoyed the author’s references to science and wordplay. It was the perfect unity of science and art. What is more impressive is that I never felt burdened or impatient with all the action. Martin Baynton effectively sucked me in without even really taking me to Wonderland. This book is Book 1 of a series, and with the splendid way it ended, I would love to see more of Wonderland and feisty Alice.
Alice, however, is a most annoying character; she is crass, talkative, violent, and rude. Sometimes, I wished she would shut up for once! My opinion is a personal one, and it was a relief to see that she evolved, so this has no bearing on my rating. But it was upsetting to see that a fifteen-year-old would curse so much, and if you absolutely can’t stand this, you can steer clear of this book. I believe that this novel will benefit from another round of editing. I found several minor errors that can be easily corrected. So, even though I would love to award this book more than the allowed four stars, I really cannot rate it more than 3 out of 4. This book is perfect for readers who enjoy fantasy books. If you have any likeness for Alice in Wonderland, you should make room in your heart and library for The Secret of Safe Passage. There is some science here, so this book will also be good for lovers of science-fiction books.
the Secret of Safe Passage
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