Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
See it at Goodreads
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.
I’ve always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland. I mean a huge fan. Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, the caterpillar, the stories woven into a story…the Red Queen… just so much amazing. The Disney cartoon was one of my favorite movies growing up (though I know it was Disney and there were differences), and then when I heard Tim Burton was doing his version, I had a fan girl moment. Loved it, too.
So naturally, when I first heard of Splintered last year, before it even got a cover, I was interested right away. I had a feeling this was going to be different. And it was. This was quite a bit darker than I expected it to be, but that’s what I loved best--and that’s perhaps what Carroll would have loved, too. I never thought Wonderland was meant to be a world to be full of happy, pretty things. It never was. It’s a dark, gothic, underworld and can be quite a bit scary at times. Nothing makes sense there obviously. Howard did an astounding job bringing Wonderland back to life and recreating this world for a new, modern twist. It went above and beyond my expectations. I was blown away.
It is true that Carroll really did know an Alice once that he’d used as an inspiration as the Alice for his book. And what I really liked about Splintered was that it took this, and twisted it into a family ancestry thing to make everything extremely believable, even through all of the fantasy elements. To be frank, this should be a movie by Tim Burton also. Oh…it really should. I know he did Alice already, but come on, I’d love to see his genius take on this one, too. ^_^
I just want to talk and talk about this book. But every time I try, I have to bite my lip or hold back because it’s hard not to give out spoilers. Splintered has so many twists and turns, along with a unique cast of characters, that I fear of releasing spoilers if I say too much. Haha. I loved Alyssa and her internal struggle with her mother. The relationship she has with her father shown in the beginning is also refreshing. I like seeing good parental relationships.
Splintered is magical. And romantic. Jeb. Ah, Jeb. There’s no contest. He’s the one for Alyssa. The best friend that stood by for years. The protector. Loyal. I adored his attitude, and he gave me some laugh-out-loud moments. He reminded me a lot of the crowd I used to hang out with, too, so that helped. Haha. So, there’s a minor hint at a love triangle also. But to be honest, I didn’t feel it in the romance department when it came to Morpheus (who, by the way, was a total surprise all together himself). He came across as a bit of a detachment really. I felt like Alyssa doesn’t know him as well as she thought, not like she does Jeb, and Morpheus seemed like he has his underlying motives. Here’s the thing though: I was so entranced with the writing and world-building I didn’t focus on the romance as much for this book as I normally would have. I was more in tune with the characters and visualizations. I loved, loved, loved the attention to details. The pages couldn’t be turned fast enough. This was an adventure.
It does appear to be a stand-alone, with an ending that is slightly left open. Though it’s resolved nicely, as a new fan, and really wishing for more from this rebuilt world and well-crafted cast of characters, I’m hoping this perhaps becomes a series. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open. Either way, I know I’ll be snagging up anything Ms. Howard releases in the future from now on.
There were unexpected, unpredictable twists and turns. It was thrilling and beautiful and dark. It is disturbing and MAD and amazing. Splintered left me with my jaw unhinged and in love… Highly recommended!
Can I give it more than 5 stars?!