Thursday, April 6, 2017

Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods

Just Zoe. That's what everyone - even Zoe herself - calls her. She's not beautiful and charming and quick to make friends like her older sister Jade or a genius like her little brother Harper. She only has one friend, Quincy (he's NOT a boyfriend) and one interest, her father's rare and exotic plant nursery that surrounds their house, Wonderland.

But nothing ever stays the same. Quincy is facing some major challenges at home, Zoe's parents are worrying about money, and even Wonderland may not be around forever. Will Zoe keep zoning out into her own imagination, or can she make a real difference in her family and her world?

I purchased this for the library based on the popularity of The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond but have only now gotten around to reading it. I can see it appealing to tween girls who are dreamy, worried about not having friends at school, and will like the wish-fulfillment ending. I didn't find Zoe as annoying as some people did - although I do think her "zoning out" moments are maybe something that her parents should have checked... The ending was fast and unrealistic; a devastating fire destroys their entire home and livelihood but there's not really any mention of the practical logistics around a tragedy like this, although Zoe does stress a little about her part in the event.

Verdict: Overall this was well-written and engaging and will appeal to girls who like this type of bildungsroman. The touches of diversity and science were a nice addition. If Woods' other titles are popular, this will be a good addition to your library. Also, I love the cover.

ISBN: 9780399170973; Published August 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books; Purchased for the library; Review copy provided by publisher

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