Reviewing the Indie Author: Alice in Deadland

Alice in DeadlandWelcome back to Reviewing the Indie Author, where we look at books by self-published and independent-press authors.

Alice in Deadland, a trilogy by author Mainak Dhar, takes place after a virus has been released and humans turn into what are called Biters. They attack without reason, and anyone who feels their teeth will turn into one.

Alice is a 15-year-old girl who has only known a life of Biters; her family survived nuclear attacks and now lives in the wastelands of India. Constantly defending the community that she lives in from these rabid infected wastelands and trying to keep her family alive, Alice herself is a miracle: she’s strong, an expert marksman, and altogether the kind of character you can tell is going to be the savior of mankind.

The book starts out with a lot of promise. Translating the Alice in Wonderland story into Alice falling into the Biters’ underground shelter is a fun way to start the story. However, it quickly turns into an absurd fantasy tale that seems unrealistic even within the context of a postapocalyptic Earth. As someone who is very good at suspending disbelief, I thought it was a fun, simple, mindless read. However, if you want a book to at least seem somewhat believable, stay away.

Once Alice falls down the “rabbit hole,” she finds a crazy half-Biter who calls herself the Queen of Hearts and carries the last book in the country: Alice in Wonderland. She believes that the main character is the prophesied savior who will bring the cure to the Biters. The Queen of Hearts also states that there is a cure created along with the virus before the biochemical weapon was unleashed on the world. According to her, it is up to Alice to find this cure to save the world.

Alice escapes the clutches of the Queen of Hearts, but she can’t seem to shake what was said to her. As the story continues, you meet the big baddies who are orchestrating all of this and crushing the little man who refuses to join them. You also learn that Alice has a unique ability to talk to the Biters and brings them in to aid their cause. The further you read into this story, the further it feels you are going down the rabbit hole, which in some ways is appropriate. But the novel turns into a bizarre and almost unbelievable tale of a dystopian Earth. I found the first novel to be a fun little tale, but the second part of the series I could barely finish. There is a point that everyone has where they can’t suspend disbelief any more or the story becomes too transparent, and I hit that point.

Though the story was bizarre, it had a very good viewpoint on the current way of capitalism and where greed can lead. However, other dystopian and postapocalyptic novels have done this theme better and with a more believable story. These novels have become all the more common since the release of The Hunger Games.

The bottom line? Though it’s fun to read how the little guy prevails, it takes a delicate line to be believable. Skip this one—you can find better dystopian novels with zombies.

Cover of the Indian edition of Alice in Deadland, featuring Alice and  Biters

Cover of the Indian edition

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