Sunday, March 8, 2015

Insanity, Mad in Wonderland - Review


Book Details:
Insanity by Cameron Jace
(Mad in Wonderland)
Publication date: December 19th 2013
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult



Insanity has got to be the quickest-paced novel I've ever read! Full of short chapters and never-ending madness… I absolutely loved this book.

I don't know if there is a particular character I liked over the others, but I most certainly liked them all for various reasons: the imagery, characters, the background, the different settings, the sarcasm and the humour. Even the Cheshire.

The first instalment in the Mad in Wonderland series by Cameron Jace, Insanity revolves around Lewis Carroll's famous Alice in Wonderland books. 
Jace uses the original novels and twists them brilliantly into black comedy and humourous but serious fiction.

I'm pretty sure this novel falls under the 'absurd' genre but it will the novel of the absurd (not the theatre of the absurd).

While I haven’t read the original books, I have definitely added them to my endless to-read list after this and will be seeing the old literary characters in a brand new light after this read.

It seems Wonderland was full of monsters that Lewis Carroll had to lock up with magic; however, several of these monsters escaped and shape-shifted into humans. While some live peacefully, others are wreaking havoc, particularly the Cheshire Cat, who is on a killing spree.

"If you've survived parasites and bacteria until the age of nineteen, you can survive sane people" - one of the many cool-but-insane things the Pillar tells Alice in the story.

Insanity is mostly narrated in the first person from Alice's perspective, with a few exceptions narrated in the third person. Alice, the protagonist of the novel, is young girl in an asylum. She regularly endures shock therapy at the hands of her wardens, who seem to enjoy it A LOT. She has no idea who she is or what the outside world is like. Soon, she is introduced to a serial killer living in the asylum known as Pillar the Killer.

The two inhabitants of the Radcliffe Asylum embark on morning-only journeys to find the Cheshire and begin to meet several people/characters from Lewis Carroll's book.

Everything in Insanity and the mystery behind the killings is related to Lewis Carroll, his life and writing. It's brilliantly entertaining and mind-boggling to both Alice and the reader.

For a book named Insanity, there is a very fine line between what is considered rational and what is seen as 'crazy' and Alice finds it very difficult to differentiate and to be sane in the modern world.

Moreover, she cannot remember her past and finds it easier to be crazy. Even the asylum becomes 'home' after she goes out to the real world.

I particularly like how comic relief and sarcasm are interwoven in the fabric of the novel; they are ever-present, so that the reader's brain is never fried but is constantly relieved even in the most serious of situations.

When we first meet Alice, she narrates how she keeps her sanity, saying "My orange flower is also my personal rain check for my sanity. If I talk to her and she doesn't reply, I know I am not hallucinating. If she talks to me, all kinds of nonsense starts to happen. Insanity prevails."

Throughout the novel, there is wisdom in insanity; I must admit I found it way better than Shakespeare's Hamlet - both book and character. While the play which is at the top of my never-likely-to-read-again list, Insanity is deeper and better played. I'm not sure how to say, I just loved how the absurdity made a lot of sense.

Alice landed in the asylum after a tragedy; it was said that had killed all her friends on a school bus after claiming they were Wonderland Monsters, including her boyfriend, whom she cannot remember. When she tries to remember him, she says: "Whatever we shared is buried somewhere in the abyss of my mind. I just don't know how to swim deep enough and return to the surface with it."

Cameron Jace cleverly critises modern governments in his novel Insanity. Several things the Pillar says ring true. The encounter with Maragret Kent is interesting and leaves much food for thought. I must say, there are things I never understood about governments, no I – believe it or not – actually look at them in a new light and have a better understanding. (I can't believe it either).

I also particularly liked Jace's use of modern-day governments, the comparisons and the examples

With a lot of action, running around, getting a Certificate of Insanity, going to the British Parliament and chasing a serial killer – with the help of another serial killer - Insanity is by all means a highly enjoyable and insane must-read.


Note: I received a free copy of Insanity via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.