Alice is an interesting YA story that may initially seem like it's opening the door to a series or a pitch for TV show, but instead it comes off as more of a quick and concise bit of storytelling that just wants to nail down the various dramas of being a teenager with a small flare of supernatural mystery. The fluid and clean artwork combined with the lush coloring help to cement that concise storytelling, creating a very satisfying short read that could be expanded but is a strong standalone piece that can hook in young readers pretty quickly.
Alice has a lot of problems: her family just moved back to Ohio, money is tight as her father looks for a new job, she has to share her room with her brother, she's constantly bullied, and so on and on. The added stressor for Alice is that she can actually jump into other people's dreams.
And because she shares a room with her brother, she experiences all of his nightmares. Unable to sleep and constantly tired, she can't really share this secret so she suffers under one more burden that drives more of a wedge between her and her family.
What's worse, her relationship with her childhood friend Jamie has put her in the sights of school bully Taisha (who has a crush on Jamie).
The storytelling does a great job of heaping on the relatable stress for Alice, bringing her everyday problems more to the forefront than her actual supernatural problems. And as the story starts to introduce more mysteries that deal with her dream hopping they become decent metaphors for Alice's mounting depression, stress, and struggles through life.
I really enjoyed Macaione's artwork as his clean and fluid narrative flow was also highlighted with plenty of emotive expressions. Adragna's coloring also brought another level of life to the story as her palette choices and shading brought the emotional tones into focus.
While the core plot of the book is pretty straightforward and the mystery unfolds in a fairly predictable way, the storytelling keeps it fresh and satisfying. By exploring its various themes through the lens of their supernatural plot device they balanced out the core issues in a very engaging method, so while some beats were a bit telegraphed they were still fulfilling. The story also comes full circle and offers an optimistic outlook to handling it's various heavy issues, so that a young reader can identify but also see some hope in action.
This is the kind of book that I can see really impacting a young reader, both in it's art and in it's handling of issues with bullying and depression. It's also never too violent or scary, so educators and librarians can feel comfortable in offering it to a pretty wide age range of readers. Definitely worth checking out, and definitely worth handing to a young reader you may know.