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Red House Books is going through a bit of a update!

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Reading Level: Adult
Publication Date: August 2011 (reprint)
Pages: 176
Series: no
Acquisition: received for review

Having given up a boring nine-to-five job to become a private detective, Alison finds that most of her working life is spent spying on unfaithful husbands. In offices. From nine to five.
Until Project Brown Dog.
From somewhere on the coast of England rumours arise of the sinister genetic crossbreeding of unsuspecting animal species. Alison is assigned to investigate the truth. With her friend Taron - a woman with a hundred-candle smile and a unique, if ambitious, mission to improve the world - she travels from London to Weymouth and back, rocked by a shocking discovery. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
As I read primarily young adult books, I don't usually accept adult novels for review. At first I thought Alison Wonderland might have some YA cross over appeal so I decided to give it a try. After reading a few chapters, it was obvious, to me, that this was going to be more of an 'adult' book and in my opinion, not suitable for the under 18ish crowd.

It was an enjoyable read though. Nothing really stands out about Alison Wonderland but overall, the story kind of resonates with a type of implausibility and bizarre sense of reality that was entertaining. The synopsis of the book doesn't do a very good job describing what actually happens however. I thought I was going to read a modern sleuth mystery with perhaps some feminist overtones. What I got was a strange drug and sex filled story about a woman who perhaps solved a mystery no one really knew or cared about. A little weird but like I said, pretty enjoyable.

I don't usually give warnings about the content of books as I prefer readers to make up their own minds but I do feel the need to point out a particular part in Alison Wonderland that might not be for every reader. It involved a genetically engineered animal and a man having sex. It kind of fit with the storyline but still it seemed unnecessary and gross to me. Unfortunately, it also brought my rating down a bit.

Alison Wonderland was originally published in the UK in 1999 and the book is very much a British novel. The setting and the slang was all British. I had a few problems following along because I couldn’t quite figure out what a character was saying or thinking but it wasn't a huge problem. It would probably be very enjoyable to a reader from the UK or a reader to enjoys British colloquialisms and customs.

A middle of the road type of book for me that I wished was a bit more pulled together. I liked the randomness of the characters and what happens to them but I would have enjoyed this story more if the characters felt more connected to each other.

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Amazon Encore
Author's Website


  1. O
    doesn't sound like my thing
    Thanks for the content warning :)

  2. Don't laugh at me but... I've just spent the last 15 minutes searching your site for the new Netgalley post... only to realize that October 1st is tomorrow. DUH!! Anyway, I'll stop back by tomorrow. Have a great day.

    By the way - terrific review!

  3. Definitely sounds...gross. There's just no other way to put it. Not sure if I can steer clear of this one though, I am a little curious now. I will probably read it if I stumble across it one day. Thanks for the warning and your honesty. Great review :)


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