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Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green - Review

Friday, July 12, 2019

Where did I get it? I saw on Twitter that Simon was going to be signing books in Gay's the Word, and you could contact them for a dedicated copy and pay via Paypal. I like supporting independent bookshops and I liked the idea of having a signed book of Simon's. So I emailed, got the dedication, paid my money, and received the book in the post along with an Alex in Wonderland bookmark AND a Gay's the Word bookmark! 

What's it about? Alex is sixteen and has just finished his GCSEs. He thinks that he'll hang out all summer with his friends Alice and Will, but they're a couple now and they awkwardly don't tell Alex that they're going on holiday together. Then Alex's dad's girlfriend Kendra - who Alex hates - decides he needs to get a job. After a couple of awkward incidents, Alex lands a job at Wonderland, the local amusement arcade, and has made two new friends who also work there, Ben and Efia. 

Alex has a big crush on Ben, but Ben has a girlfriend, Bella. Alex sort of lets Efia push him into dating Lemon Boy, someone who sells lemonade on the pier nearby. Plus, Wonderland is going down the drain so the three set about putting plans in place to try to save the place. 

This book was billed as "so romantic" and honestly, I didn't feel like it was. It didn't seem to get going until about two thirds of the way through. A lot of things happened, but not much ~happened~ if you see what I mean. I would have liked more of the romance earlier in the book. 

I also thought Alex was really like Noah from Noah Can't Even. They're both awkward and gawky and a bit not really in charge of their own destinies. I feel like there wasn't much to separate them, so even though I really liked Noah I didn't really want to read a book about a really similar character? I did like the seaside setting and all the faded glamour. I liked Ben and Efia and the cast of smaller characters. 

What age range is it for? 14+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yeah, Alex is gay. 

Are any main characters people of colour? I think Efia might be mixed race? I'm not sure, it isn't really mentioned. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? A little bit, it's not graphic 

Are there swear words? No 

What criticisms do I have? As above. I wanted to really like it but I just didn't love it. 

Would I recommend the book? If you like Simon's other books then yes absolutely, but otherwise then I think there are better books about gay teens. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? It was still in the pile by my bed. 

What do I think of the cover? I like it, I think it is eye catching and looks suitable for the theme of the book 

What other books is it like? It's like Noah Can't Even, in a not necessarily flattering way 

How many stars? Six out of ten 

Where is the book going now? I will keep it as it's signed

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