*MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW*
I loved “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. I gave it originally a 9.4/10, but then I even went back and modified that to a 9.7/10 because I felt that it deserved it that much. At the end of my review of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, I promised a part two that would be my analysis and feelings towards “Through The Looking-Glass”, it’s sequel. I hoped this was gonna be a positive review, and I hoped I was going to adore this book as I did the prequel. I did not. I hate this book, and this review is going to be full of spoilers and petty criticism, so if you are not interested in either of those things then I apologize and understand. Basically, this book was written six whole years after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published, but the two books are only six months apart in Alice’s world. I think within this six month time frame Lewis Carroll completely lost his ability to write a good cast of characters, and a captivating novel. Usually for an album review, I break it down song by song or choose specific tracks I had feelings over, I will be taking a similar approach to expressing my dissatisfaction with this novel- chapter by chapter.
Chapters 1-4 are dull. The story begins with Alice playing with Dinah’s two kittens, one is black and one is white, there is an issue with this and I will go over this near the end of my review. Then Alice is just like “Hmmm… I wonder if I can go through that mirror on the wall that would be neat.”, and of course, she does it, no surprise there. The rest of this chapter all the way up until the end of chapter three just discuss chess and how the entire book’s plot is going to be similar to advancing on a chessboard. We also meet the uninteresting antagonist, The Red Queen. I feel like Carroll was playing chess one day with one of his mates and then was like “Well I used playing cards in my last book, may as well use chess in my next book and make some more money off of my writing.”, I feel like the whole concept of basing this book around chess completely takes away from the surreal and unpredictable aspect of the original novel. Like you know all Alice will be doing for the remainder of the novel is moving in a linear path but meeting all these “crazy and wacky characters and friends along the way!”. Then you have the “Gnat” character who I guess was supposed to be this book’s version of the Cheshire Cat. The Gnat was such a boring and dull character, I can’t even remember anything he talked about. I also hate Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Chapter Four. I apologize, but I am so relieved that they are in this book and not in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I also hated Tweedledee and Tweedledum in the 1951 Alice in Wonderland movie as well, always have, always will. The only slightly interesting part of these chapters is the Jabberwocky poem.
I will say that Chapter Five is pretty great. I loved when the White Queen casually explains how she remembers things from the future as if she is moving in time backwards constantly, I guess this is a reference to Queens moving backwards across the board in chess, I thought it was cool. Then you have the Queen randomly transforming into a Sheep who is also the proprietor of a store, then proceeds to take Alice on a rowboat ride down the river. I wish the entire book was like Chapter Five, it is almost like Carroll wrote Chapter Five and The Jabberwocky, then just paid someone to do the rest. Chapter Six includes the beloved nursery rhyme character, Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty says some boring stuff and then brags that he got his “cravat” from the King and Queen as an unbirthday present. Now, this is actually where the unbirthday concept originated from that was in the Alice in Wonderland movie. It is the concept that is sung about at the Mad Tea Party by the Hatter and The March Hare. I sort of feel like having Humpty Dumpty cameo in the book was sort of lazy of Carroll to do. While Humpty was not as popular then as he was now, he was always a renowned nursery rhyme figure. Since “Through The Looking-Glass” is a children’s fiction novel, maybe this was an attempt at attracting more children into buying his books? Plus, Humpty is an easy character to write because he is always written for you and is one dimensional.
After that ends the rest of the novel is just chess pieces doing chess things while being “totally MAD and INSANE!”. The March Hare and The Hatter make a brief appearance but their names were altered and their cameos were just unnecessary. Also, just as we suspected, Alice becomes a Queen, like we all knew she would because she had to hit the end of the chess board at some point… The “oh no!” she wakes up, as if we did not already realize it was all a dream, also “Oh would you look at that, the red and white queen were Alice’s cat’s kittens all along… “WOW!”. See this is so stupid and predictable to me. Not only does Alice fall asleep with the black cat in her lap, but we also meet the Red Queen first in the novel. This is just so predictable and lazy and honestly after Chapter Seven I just sort of sped read through this novel because I just think it is so terrible and I was taking way too long to find the desire to keep reading it. I was going to do a joke where since the “looking-glass” is a mirror, I would flip the original score I gave Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was a 9.5, and mirror it to rate this book a 5.9. Then I changed my score of the original and assumed whenever the book picked up at Chapter Five that it was going to stay at that level of interesting. This book is a disappointment and now it is painfully obvious why Disney just stole random bits from this book for their 1951 movie. It is because “Through The Looking Glass” is kind of trash.
Publication Date: 1871
Word Count: 29,000
Alternate Titles: “Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”
Genres: Fantasy, Children’s Fiction, Sequels.
i. e. 3.9/10