Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Nickolas Cook
In order for a mashup to work, there needs to be harmony. Harmony can come out of unexpected places. Nickolas Cook misses this mark by quite some distance. He manages not only to fail at matching Lewis Carroll's wit and charm, but goes further, ruining the original cleverness and creating what feels like a desperate, zombie-obsessed madlib.
Derivative fiction is not an issue for me. In fact, I've come across some pretty clever bits of derivative fiction, especially fanfiction. I also just read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and liked it quite a bit. The problem with Alice in Zombieland is not that it is derivative. It's that it's awful.
Alice in Wonderland is one of those books you can reread as an adult, and find touches of cleverness you weren't able to recognize previously. Lewis Carroll was a master of wordplay, and built several levels of meaning into his Alice books, which is probably one of the reasons they're so popular to this day.
There have been quite a few attempts to do a "grimdark" Alice, some of which have been more successful than others. But all of these attempts actually involved a significant amount of effort and reworking. As you read Alice in Zombieland, what you get is Lewis Carroll's work with some random sentences added and some words changed into others.
Unfortunately for the reader, it's absolutely obvious what is Nickolas Cook's writing and what is Lewis Carroll's, not just because of the tone, but because of the quality of the writing. One does not have to be an Alice buff to get whiplash. To make matters worse, often Nickolas Cook simply took one word and replaced it with another... despite the fact that this ruined jokes later one. Frex, the Mock Turtle becomes the Corpse Turtle. Corpse turtle soup is not funny because all turtle soup is made up of corpses.
Despite it being rather short, I actually feel like I have wasted my life trudging through this book. Those who know me well know that I have an extreme difficulty not finishing books once I've started them. Yet, multiple times, I actually considered it.
This is what happens when you make poor life choices, like deciding to read Alice in Zombieland.