‘Alice in Zombieland’ Deviates from Clichés


Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter is a relatable book with authentic characters and captivating world building.

Although the title of Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland references Alice in Wonderland, there are only small connections between the iconic story and Showalter’s book. Alice in Zombieland is a heartwarming story following Alice Bell (Ali), the main character, as she avenges the death of her family.

Ali starts off the book as an immature girl who loves her dad, but can’t help herself from thinking that her dad’s firm belief in zombies is completely insane. Her doubt is what kills her entire family. This characteristic is quite authentic because many children don’t realize what their parents mean to them until it’s too late. Showalter is teaching a valuable lesson to those lucky children whose families are still alive. In fact, the way I treated my parents changed after reading Alice in Zombieland. As Ali goes through the first stage of grief, anger, she vows to avenge her family by killing as many zombies as she can. Rash promises made out of anger are also characteristic of many teenagers. After losing her family, Ali lives with her grandparents. Ali’s grandparents are the ideal depiction of parental figures. In an attempt to relate more with Ali, they use teenage slang and it’s hilarious. Grandparents nowadays are trying to be more modern and teenage slang is an example of their various, and adorable, attempts. Speaking of adorable, Ali’s banter with the love interest, Cole, are funny and adorable. The romance was slightly out of place, but it was characteristic of many high school romances and didn’t take away from the general story.

Despite the fact that the characters are similar to stereotypical teenagers, they weren’t cliche. Ali’s humor and compelling personality makes her character unique and makes for an entertaining read. As a little bonus, Showalter includes small references to popular culture through Ali’s witty commentary that makes her all the more relatable.

It’s difficult to write zombie stories without it coming off as cliche. Showalter’s zombies are unique and she introduces creative zombie lore that adds more color to the world she’s describing. That lore is what makes worlds in books like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians so much easier to slip into. The setting isn’t a completely new world but rather a twisted reality. She experiences mundane problems that allow the reader to relate more to her situation and makes the world more realistic. A recurring theme throughout the book is grief. Ali lost her parents and her sister in the beginning of the book, but just when she thinks she’s accepted their deaths, she’s hit by another tragedy.

Alice in Zombieland had me hooked from chapter two and I would recommend this book to anyone, but caution them not to expect a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I would especially recommend Alice in Zombieland to those who enjoyed the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.