Saturday, 31 January 2015

Book Review: Insanity

Insanity by Cameron Jace


4 stars

Recommend: If you're craving something a bit wacky.


After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.
~*~


Throw your cats out the window, everyone, Insanity is here!

Warning: Most of this book is nonsensical. If you find a lack of logic frustrating, step away from the book before you get in too deep.

But if you love a mystery based adventure with zany characters and endless possibilities, then come take your first steps into Alice Wonder’s life.

This book is definitely something different. There’s nothing cliché or predictable about it, and I can imagine the author spent a lot of time trying to make sense using nonsense. I respect him a lot for creating something truly unique.

Is Alice crazy? Is she not? What it means to be insane is question in a way that will get you thinking, especially when mundane activities by supposedly normal people are twisted back around to feel strange. I know what to look out for the next time I ride a bus...

At first I thought there was no way I’d give this anything fewer than five stars, and that remained unchallenged for a while. When Alice steps out of the mental institute and into the real world, somehow the story goes completely nuts in a good way, but this is where I thought the novel peaked. Around half way into Alice's adventure, I found the nonsensical nature of the plot a bit of a novelty and soon grew tired of the way it was constructed.

Ah, that long middle section.

The problem with a world where almost anything imaginable can happen is that it’s impossible to predict or anticipate. Therefore I struggled to feel tension when situations got a little sticky. We know there will never be a moment where Alice is in peril because something nonsensical might happen and she’s okay; there's no point in guessing what will happen because the real twist won't be logical. For me, that meant my attention waned the more it went on, but I’d still highly recommend others to read it.

Despite the fact I’m from Oxford, my knowledge of Lewis Carroll was poor. I say ‘was’ because Jace adds in details about Lewis Carroll left, right and centre. I was a little sceptical of how much was fact and fiction (and if you read this novel, then you’ll know why!) but at the end I saw a note from the author. He sounds like a nice author, too. He researched Carroll thoroughly and even invites readers to discuss the book with him. Hats off to a friendly writer!

Nearer the climax, the story picks back up and finally links in a few past elements which help the story feel knitted together again. The ending opens up more questions than it answers, but I think I'll pass on the series. The questions it ended on weren't enough to hook me in, and I feel like book 2 make struggle with the same issues concerning tension and anticipation so I's rather leave Jace's world on a high.

Insanity has its fair share of twists and turns, unsolved mysteries, and shocking reveals so don't get me wrong - I enjoyed this novel a lot. I can’t help think if it was shorter, I would have preferred it a bit more. After all, there’s only so much madness I can take!