Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lost in Wonderland (The Twisted and the Brave #1) by Nicky Peacock

Summary: Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder... 

Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother… 

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.

14+ due to violence and adult situations

Buy Links: Evernight Teen  I  Amazon UK  I  Amazon US  I  Amazon Canada 

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Pages: 154

Release Date: April 14th, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


I was given a free e-book of Lost in Wonderland by the author, Nicky Peacock, in exchange for an honest review. Lost in Wonderland is not a type of book I would typically reach for. It has elements of horror, which is my least favorite genre. While I am not a huge fan of horror novels or movies, I thoroughly enjoyed Lost in Wonderland. The novel did have its flaws, but overall it was a rather compelling read. Like the Kushtaka, Lost in Wonderland sank its claws into me and would not let go. 

Lost in Wonderland definitely sets the framework for an addicting series. It was a fast-paced read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Lost in Wonderland seamlessly combines Alaskan folklore and the classic tale of Alice In Wonderland into a unique Young Adult novel. The plot was addicting and I could barely tear myself from the screen. Depending on the format you read Lost in Wonderland, it barely reaches over a hundred pages. You can easily devour it in one sitting. I have never read anything like Lost in Wonderland and I highly doubt I will ever find another book like it.

Although the length of Lost in Wonderland allows the reader to devour it in one sitting, it is simply too small. The plot was great; however, the pace and length of the novel and the chapters cause an underdevelopment in the characters and the story as a whole. While short chapters can easily be used to hook readers, the shortness of the chapters in Lost in Wonderland causes a disconnect between the reader and the characters. The novel flips between so many different perspectives every three or four pages that the development of the previous characters ceases to exist. While the perspectives of the characters were supposed to add to the suspense and depth of the novel, it made the novel seem as though it was one tone. The reader barely has time to familiarize itself with the current character and they begin to blend together. Aside from Shilo, none of the characters have their own distinct voice. Nicky should have focused her energy on creating distinct voices of only two characters and slowly build the perspectives over the course of the series. 

The length of the novel and the chapters also led to a lack of details. I have no idea where Mouse lived with her "Mom" and "Dad". After something was mentioned in the beginning of the novel, I had assumed that they also lived in Alaska; however, it was mentioned that Kayla and Shilo had gotten passports when they were leaving for Alaska towards the end of the novel. While that could have been standard protocol for a mission, it was not stated where they were leaving to go to Little Bell, Alaska. I am not sure if they lived in Canada or somewhere else in Alaska. The novel lacked little details to make it more visual. While it did not shy away from the blood and guts, it did shy away from more important details that build the foundation of a novel. 

While the idea of the organization of Wonderland was interesting, the development of it also lacked. Towards the beginning it was stated that each agent has a special ability; however, that fact is not carried on throughout the novel. It was only mentioned that Mouse has the ability to look younger than she actually is. Rabbit is constantly referred to as an albino; however, I would not consider that an ability. Barely anything about Cheshire was even mentioned. I though he was a little boy until it was mentioned towards the end that he was in his late teens or early 20's. The novel lacked detail when it came to the characters and the organization of Wonderland. 

One thing I really enjoyed about Lost in Wonderland was the use of Alaskan folktale and the back drop of Alaska. I am not familiar with the Kushtaka and it was rather interesting learning about it. Alaska is also not a popular setting for Young Adult novels. I loved the diversity of the setting. Not many novels, in general, tackle the last frontier. I also loved Shilo's character. He was the most unique character of the bunch and his situation was rather interesting. I do not want to spoil much when it comes to struggles, but I really fell in love with his character. He has such a lovable personality and his situation is not necessarily common in our society. 

The ending of Lost in Wonderland also left me feeling a bit off. While it leaves room for a sequel, it was rather rushed and predictable. It was also confusing because it seemed to go against a determined fact from the beginning of the novel. While I did not love the ending, I absolutely loved the epilogue. I had predicted it as well, but it was a very sweet touch and I really want to see how that plot point will develop throughout the remainder of the series. I will definitely be continuing the series. I am interested to see where it goes. 

Lost in Wonderland was an enjoyable read; however, it had its flaws. I have read several five and four star reviews for Lost in Wonderland on Goodreads and I am glad that those readers absolutely loved the book, but I did not feel the same way. I did enjoy Lost in Wonderland and I am excited for the rest of the series; however, it was not my perfect cup of tea. I highly recommend buying yourself a copy of Lost in Wonderland and finding out for yourself. I have an excerpt from the novel below that you can read and if you enjoy it, you can purchase a copy from one of the purchase links that are listed above or below.

Before I can scream, he stuffs me in his trunk. It is dark, smelly, and contains an empty plain black plastic bag and a dirty shovel; these are not good signs. I put my hands to the top of the trunk and push. It is locked. I wasn’t getting out till he wanted me to. I resign myself to curl into a ball, the acidic-smelling sweat of his palms still imprinted on my bare, narrow shoulders. I should be listening out for the car engine, hearing when it slows for corners or revs on open roads. I should be testing the resilience of all the sides of the black space around me. I should be doing all the things they tell you to do, but I don’t. I simply stay in my little ball, quiet and patient.

The car bounces up and down and I realize we’re not on the main road anymore. He’s taking me somewhere remote…

We come to a soft stop. The slam of a car door shivers through the metal of the vehicle. I know what is going to happen. It’s so inevitable that it’s almost laughable. Death comes to everyone at some point; what is that saying, “No one can avoid death and taxes.” Funny the things you remember when you’re in danger. I suppose your brain tries to distract you with all sorts of useless crap, anything to keep you from shutting down and freaking the hell out. I grab at my forearm, an almost robotic reaction, feeling down it to check that my tracking chip is still there. The hard edges beneath my skin make me smile. My small, metallic friend never lets me down, never abandons me.

The lid to my dark place is pulled up and I see him. His face is blank. There’s no hint of emotion or even intent other than what can be derived through his actions. His hands are sturdy as he pulls me from the trunk and stands me up before him. Being barely five feet tall, I only stand to his chest. I look down to the ground between us and see the cheapest sneakers in the world, ones probably made by enslaved third-world children. Man this guy is pure evil.

“Don’t worry, girl.” He puts a hand on my cheek and graces me with a twitchy smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. The hand lingers longer than usual polite social circles would allow. My eyes widen. I know that I am one of many girls he has brought here—one of the many that he planned to rape and strangle, then leave used and vacant by the side of the road, a hollow tangle of floppy limbs. How do I know this? Because I know him. I was looking for him. I’m not who, and what, he thinks I am. I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl, scared by the death sentence before her. No, I am something else entirely.

I smack his palm from my cheek and use the momentum to reach over with my other hand to grab his wrist. I position myself in front of him and use his own body weight to pull him down and over my now bent back. He hits the ground so hard he cries out. I keep hold of his arm and twist it around and under. He moves his body, angling it in the same direction in an attempt to ease the tension I’m creating.

“Stop!” he yells, those crappy sneakers frantically pumping to find enough purchase to get him to his feet.

I push harder till I hear the bone snap. He screams, but thanks to the remote location he has taken us to, no one hears him. I let go of his wrist and turn to retrieve the shovel from the trunk. I take a minute to loom over him. He is trying to get up, but the weight and pain of his broken arm is putting him off-balance; funny how fragile the human body actually is, even one that belongs to a sick serial killer.

I raise the shovel and smack it over his knees. He howls and tries to shield himself with his good arm. An arm that is not intact for long, as I turn the shovel and this time use the edge to dig into his flesh. Blood pools on the ground and he begins to crawl. I’m not sure where he’s trying to go. I think his goal is just to get away from me. I walk the few steps to where he’s managed to drag himself to then bring my weapon down hard onto his skull. The splintering sound of bone meeting metal is my cue to get on with the operation. I pull my cell phone from my pink sparkle-covered jeans and dial the only number on it. An automated message greets me. “Off with their heads.” I take a breath and look over at the mangled mess of the serial killer they knew as the Doll Maker. “Here, here,” I say. The call rings off and I know that I have to make my exit now. They will come and clean up the mess. No one will ever know that the Doll Maker was an accountant with really bad shoes, and I mean really bad. It’s not till they’d stopped moving that I see peeling luminous go-faster stripes adorning their sides. Yeesh. The blood splatter does little to hide their ugliness.

I stoop and check for a pulse, finding none. His skin is already clammy and I could swear slightly rubbery, but in truth it is probably just my imagination.

I throw down the shovel and begin the trek back to civilization. The night air is bitter and cruel, so I pull up my lilac hood against it. An unmarked black car zooms past me. They were quick tonight. I rub my hand up my forearm and feel the comfort of my chip. My chip is a constant friend, albeit a chatty one; they will always be able to find me, know where I am, where I’ve been. Not that I’m complaining. I was lost once, when I was very little. And although that fear bubbles in my mind every day, I beat it back with my chip. I’ll never be lost again; or at least that is what my adoptive parents tell me. Wonderland doesn’t lose its operatives.

Buy Links: Evernight Teen  I  Amazon UK  I  Amazon US  I  Amazon Canada 

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