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Insanity - Cameron Jace

This may become a very long review, so I will briefly sum up my opinion of this book by saying that the author has great ideas, but poor execution in the actual writing.

Basically, the story is a fantastic play on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that is very creative and well researched, tying in history as well as fiction and literature. However, the writing is too simplistic, there is no character development, the dialogue is extremely awkward, the narration feels clunky, and the whole thing is really rushed.

Besides the flaws in the writing, there were so many contradictions in the actual story. For starters, I was extremely confused as to what the time period was supposed to be. The characters say they are reincarnated forms of the Alice in Wonderland characters in the twenty-first century, however the "asylum" is still misusing shock therapy, openly abusing patients, and not actually providing real treatment. While electroconvulsive therapy is still used as a last resort treatment for some conditions today, it is not used in the way that Jace suggests. The "asylum" scenes do not fit into the idea of a twenty-first century timeline.

Another confusing contradiction seemed to stem from lack of adequate proofreading and editing (another issue with the writing). The character Constance is referred to as Constance Richard (p 145) by the Pillar, but then is later called Constance Albert Westmacott (p 159). This appears to be a last minute change that was not fully acclimated in the text, which was irritating and would have easily been eliminated with proper proofreading.

I also felt that while the connections to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and to Lewis Carroll were very interesting, they were not air tight. The whole Cheshire Cat scavenger hunt at Oxford was ridiculous (Seriously? There is more than one way to complete a word ladder.) When these issues came up, Jace slapped in a few comments about "madness" or used the characters' own confusion ("I don't even know what's going on.") as a lazy explanation to gloss over the hole. A lot of the events were not believable, willing suspension of disbelief aside. While the Pillar may have strange, unexplained mind-controlling powers, the idea of allowing two patients from a "mental institution" travel around Europe is pretty unlikely, especially if the story is supposed to be set in a modern time period with modern monitoring and regulations.

And of course, there is the outdated and horribly disrespectful treatment and views of mentally ill/differently abled individuals and homeless people. People in the "asylum" are called "mad", "lunatic", and other outdated terms (despite the story being set in this century). Alice's own practice of writing off her fellow patients as crazy people, alternating between disgust and pity as they drool and scream or flock around the Pillar like zombies, is rather disheartening, especially as she tries to proved that she is not "insane". The other patients are not presented as actual humans and are often portrayed as something to be fears or ignored. In many ways, "madness" is used as a form of entertainment or humor in the book. Even Alice's own performance of "madness" was seen as hilarious by her character, a sad and outdated look at real people who suffer from various conditions.

As I said before, Jace has great ideas (similar to the kind of connections he made in the Grim Diaries Prequels), but the writing and fleshing out of the story just isn't there. The whole thing feels rushed and slapped together like Jace just wanted to make the connections, but never really tied up any lose ends.

Two-stars for creativity, one-star for writing and story development.