Yesterday, I finished reading the last book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy. I had read all but last thirty pages by mid-morning and decided to save the end for bedtime. That's the kind of books these are...those rare books that you can't decide whether to plow through because you're enjoying them so much, or the kind you savor slowly because you never want them to end.
This last installment (though, does anyone really believe it will be the last, there are certainly open doors for more books) wasn't a let down at all. It did what a third book needs to do...wrap up the bigger story, but also introduce new satisfying storylines.
I loved the Catepillar Oracle plot. It was very inventive and kept me guessing. I also enjoyed the House of Clubs anti-imaginationist plot, though it sort of disappeared half-way through. And of course, the further development of Lewis Carroll's character along with more time in Oxford was a treat. My favorite part however was the many twists the conclusions of Redd's storyline took, which is odd considering her stories in the previous two books weren't my favorite by any means.
Are these the best books ever written? Absolutely not. Do they benefit from my obsession with Wonderland and the real lives of Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll? Absolutely. But that's what makes these books so special. Their inspiration comes less from the Alice books and more from the legend that surrounds the books' creation. In many ways, they look at our world with the same kind of imaginative lens that the characters in the story use to look at our world.
As a whole, the trilogy is packed with intriguing ideas to ponder, as any good sci-fi fantasy should. At the same time, it never loses its heart. There's nothing cynical in these books and for me, that was a bit refreshing.
For anyone who hasn't read The Looking Glass Wars, but wants to...may I make the following suggestions. Certainly read the Alice books first because a big part of these books' strength comes from the stark contrast between the two Wonderlands. Secondly, read up on the history of how the original Alice story came to be...because as I said before, these books are about the real little girl Alice and not the literary character. My last recommendation...just enjoy the ride.