A retelling is a new version or an adaptation of an old story, usually fairy tales and myths, reimagined and written in a modern setting.
I’m not usually a big fan of them because, more often than not, they’re bad, and I mean that in the “compare them to the original” way. It’s hard for me to remember to judge a book for what it is, when reading a retelling, especially since most of them are new adaptations of pretty famous or classic stories. I can’t just forget about the original and I know, eventually, I will end up comparing the two, which isn’t really fair, but I can’t help it.
In order for me to enjoy such books, they mustn’t be rip-offs. If there’s something that makes me want to rage till I’m blue in the face, that’s rip-offs. Simply transporting characters and plots into a modern world won’t do. Respect the story your reimagining, keep your book in the same universe, but bring something new, spins and twists.
Splintered, for example, I was skeptic to start. Boy, was I wrong, though. It’s a book that stands on its own, adding something to the original fantasy and putting a whole new spin on Carroll’s Alice fairy tale. Beautiful, dark and superbly written. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise and I ended up loving the novel.
..aaand then there’s Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, a waste of paper at the other end of the feelings spectrum. For the purpose of referencing it and out of morbid curiosity, I read a couple of chapters – it’s really all I could manage before wanting to throw the book faaar away (practically impossible, since I had a virtual copy. Shame).
This masterpiece, and that’s sarcasm, is a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey – why anyone would use that book as a reference, in any way, is beyond me – and a retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, obviously. An erotica retelling. Hate is a strong word, I rarely hate books, but this is just..wrong. So, so WRONG.
I first read Carroll’s fantasy novel when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it. I went down the rabbit hole again fairly recently, before reading Splintered. And so, reading about Alice boinking her way through Wonderland..that was just disturbing and it probably scarred me for life.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand the purpose of this book. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against erotica or any of its subcategories. Sure, put all of the 80’s soft porn movies on paper, if that’s your thing, just don’t go making it a retelling of such a classic YA novel.
Did the author wake up one day with hordes of people at her front door, demanding she write a novel in which Alice sleeps with all of Wonderland’s inhabitants? Was she made to do it? Because short of those two options, this book was a waste of paper, ink and time.
There are others I really enjoyed, like Broken, a retelling of Frankenstein. It was a great read, it had a creepy atmosphere and a sweet, adorable relationship at its center. Everneath is probably my favorite retelling to date. Hauntingly beautiful, incredibly smart, with polished, evocative writing, it was perfect. For me, that is.
You can find reviews for Splintered, Broken and Everneath on this website, just check the reviews list.
What’s your take on retellings? Love’em? Hate’em? Let me know.
Featured Image taken from here.