Lewis Carroll followed the success of his wildly popular and imaginative novel Alice in Wonderland with a sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. Now Tim Burton follows the success of his 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland with a sequel that borrows from Carrol's title. However, nearly all similarities end there and what emerges is a brand-new story that only utilizes the transportation method to return Alice to Wonderland, or Underland as the case may be.
Based on a screenplay by Linda Woolverton (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast), this junior novelization matches the style of the previous film's novelization and comes from the same author, Kari Sutherland. The pages are rippled on the edges, creating a classic and mildly chaotic look to the book. Still pictures from the film are absent, although select chapters feature drawings of some of the film's characters and each begins with artwork revealing Wonderland characters in clock gears.
Alice has been the captain of the Wonder, the ship she sailed away in at the end of the first film, for the past several years. But upon returning to London, she discovers that her benefactor has passed away and her mother has become penniless, forcing Alice to give up her ship to Hamish, the man she previously turned down. During an uptight evening party, Absolem returns to Alice in butterfly form and leads her back to Underland through a mirror.
When Alice returns, she discovers that the Mad Hatter has lost his muchness and it's all due to a traumatizing event that occurred in his past. The White Queen reveals that Alice is the only person who may be able to change Hatter's past, since she is not from Underland and won't run the risk of bumping into herself in the past. But the only thing standing in Alice's way is Time himself, a literal person who controls the speed of every minute and second and also determines when a living person's time is up.
Alice Through the Looking Glass has a really great premise and starts off strong with a solid first act. It's great to reconnect with the characters from the first film and Time is a great addition, with lots of fun puns. However, once Alice begins to time travel the story looses traction. Out of the vast world of Lewis Carroll characters that could have been introduced this time around, none of them show up. It's as if only 10 people inhabit all of Underland (Red Queen, White Queen, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Tweedles Dee and Dum, Caterpillar) and it runs stale. The third act has a few redeeming qualities, but as a book the story doesn't captivate the way one would hope.
While I wasn't thrilled with the story, fault can't be blamed on this junior novelization. It expertly leads readers through the Underland timeline without becoming confusing. I'm optimistic that the movie will improve upon the book version with some hopeful adlibbing by Johnny Depp, Sasha Baron Cohen and Helene Bonham Carter and some clever editing. However if the film's plot is identical, there's no way that it will be as good as the first.