BOOK REVIEW: Alice Isn't Dead by Joseph Fink

Disclaimer: I was sent an advance copy of Alice Isn’t Dead in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to Harper Perennial for my copy.

In the wonderfully weird and perfectly paranormal novel adaptation of the hit podcast Alice Isn’t Dead, Joseph Fink leads us through a story about murder, mystery, and, oddly enough, an oracle wearing K-Mart gloves.

Alice Isn’t Dead is about newly widowed Keisha who, months after the disappearance of her beloved wife Alice still can’t quite accept that she’s dead. Believing that she’s seen Alice in the background of several newscasts, Keisha takes a job as a long haul trucker and begins a journey across the country in search of her wife. The people she encounters along the way expose her to a conspiracy theory that goes well beyond the disappearance of one woman and puts her life in jeopardy.

Featuring a painfully honest depiction of anxiety and mental illness, a network of grotesque serial killers, the aforementioned glove-wearing oracle, an incredibly badass teenage girl, and a beautiful love story between Alice and Keisha, Alice Isn’t Dead is a fun and sometimes frightening read.

IMG_1027.JPG

While paranormal and supernatural novels have never really been my thing, I was immediately interested in reading Alice Isn’t Dead when I saw it listed on the publisher’s website. I’ve been a fan of Joseph Fink’s podcasts (especially Welcome to Nightvale) since I binge-listened to them during a particularly mind-numbing summer job cleaning hotel rooms.  Those long months of cleaning rooms were made a little more bearable because I could escape from the menial tasks at hand and immerse myself in a world so peculiar it was almost too good to be true.

I knew what I wanted from Alice Isn’t Dead before I cracked a single page: to feel that same feeling of escape and immersion once again. And it didn’t disappoint. I became completely absorbed in the wonderful and original story Fink has woven. I empathized with Keisha’s struggles with anxiety, seeing and feeling in her many of the same things I have seen and felt in myself. I was engrossed by the mystery and conspiracy, and flew through most of the book at top speed in hopes of uncovering the truth.

If you’re someone who tends to stick to your genre, Alice Isn’t Dead may be the perfect way to branch out. There is something in this story for everyone: love, romance, LGBTQ representation, mental illness, murder, mystery, mayhem, and a fair bit of violence. The simplicity with which Fink weaves in the more emotional aspects of the story never takes away from the excitement at its core. He breaks up sections of darkness and fear with pinpoints of humour and light. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your wincing at a graphic murder can be turned into a laugh at a small pop culture reference.

Even if you haven’t listened to Fink’s podcasts (which I recommend you do), Alice Isn’t Dead will strike a core with you. You’ll have to pay attention to the fast-paced and always moving plot, but it will be totally worth it in the end.