Splintered – A.G. Howard

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This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Praise for Splintered: 
“Attention to costume and setting render this a visually rich read…”
–Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a deft, complex metamorphosis of this children’s fantasy made more enticing by competing romantic interests, a psychedelic setting, and more mad violence than its original.”
–Booklist

Going into Splintered I felt mixed emotions. First, I was excited. The cover was beautiful and the book sounded like a fun, joyful adventure. On the other hand, I have never been a big fan of Alice and Wonderland. I think it’s a cheesy tale. Alice and Wonderland is really just some guys adventures of taking pills and being stoned, and…man…it’s just a weird tale. So, I was a little bit nervous to read the book. I actually ended up feeling both emotions….as well as many others….let’s see if I can describe them all in one review.

I really liked Splintered before they entered Wonderland. I thought that the relationships and characters were strong and well thought out. I also really enjoyed the storyline involving Alyssa’s mother. There is something really poetic about a mother turning herself into a nutcase to protect her family, and I really enjoyed watching that relationship. Even without Wonderland being added to the mix, I was always on the tip of my toes, bouncing up and down to find out what would happen next.

I have got to give it up to A.G. Howard for creativity and flat out brilliance! I have read a lot of books in my lifetime, and never have I ran across an author who dedicated so much time to detail. Not only that, but she didn’t screw it up. Howard’s descriptions really made me feel as if I was in the story. Scratch that. I felt like I was watching a movie happen right in front of me. I’ve never experienced that before, and I really appreciated it.

Now let’s get down to the characters. Let’s start with Alyssa. She wasn’t my favorite main character of all time, but she was definitely unique. I loved how she was her own person. She dressed the way she wanted to, she could hear the bugs and plants speak to her, she was just……not your average girl. It was a little creepy to read about how she killed all sorts of bugs. I didn’t find any humor or creativity in that. Instead, I was just plain grossed out. I’m all for animals, and while bugs really aren’t animals…….I wasn’t ok with reading about them getting tortured. It made sense with the storyline….but Alyssa lost some major points for being a bug killer and, well…weird.

Let’s move on to Jeb, Alyssa’s neighbor and secret crush. Jeb also accompanies Alyssa to Wonderland. Yeahhhh…I didn’t like Jeb at all. Infact, I very much disliked him. I found him very controlling, and I really didn’t appreciate how he treated Alyssa like a fragile piece of glass that couldn’t protect herself. Worst of all? Alyssa put it up with it! I judge relationships very intensely in books and in real life. I don’t put up with girls and women who put men before themselves or act like lost little puppets who can’t fend for themselves. That’s how that relationship went, and I did not like it. It may be the feminist in me, but I think that this is something that needs to leave both books and movies. Men are not dominant to women. Women are not weak girls who need to rely on men. For once I want to see a strong, powerful female that demands respect and equality from the men around her.

Morpheus was definitely my favorite character, but I still didn’t fall head over heels in love with him. Honestly, I wasn’t able to feel a connection between him and Alyssa, which made it really awkward since he was supposed to be one of the guys in the love triangle. His character was really cool, and I definitely couldn’t get enough of him, but….the chemistry was lacking.

Before reading this book I had heard mixed reviews due to the love triangle. Some people said that there was too much romance. I wouldn’t agree with that. Actually, I felt that there wasn’t enough romance due to the lack of chemistry between the characters. I wish that I would have seen more from all three of the main characters. Also, I felt that the book was a little long for what it was. It could have been shortened a bit and maybe that would have helped with keeping my attention a bit more.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. Did I love it? No, but I liked it. As I said before, Alice and Wonderland is not something that I usually go out of my way to read about or watch. There was a little bit too much detail for my taste, but I did acknowledge that that detail was amazingly executed. I also didn’t connect with the characters as much as I wanted. Fantasy lovers and younger teenagers should definitely give this book a try.

 

Pages: 384

Publication Date: January 1st, 2013

Publisher: Amulet Books

Rating: [rating: 3]

 

Teaser Quote: “Tearing down the rest of the world won’t make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That’s what fills the emptiness. It’s the only things that can.” 

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