Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Splintered

Splintered by A.G. Howard
January 1, 2013
Amulet Books
384 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Genre: Young Adult

Goodreads Summary:
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, he hear gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
My Review:
I really enjoyed this retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I'm a huge AiW fan, and I felt that the author's interesting spin on it was well done, adding in her own imagination, yet staying true to many elements already in the original story. The combination of original and new imaginings was quite fascinating and beautifully presented. The vivid descriptions of the world, the characters, and the situations, allowed me to feel fully immersed in this world, and inside Alyssa's head. The twist with the Liddell family was unique and creative, and I had no difficulty transitioning into the exciting and mesmerizing storyline.

As for the characters, I liked Alyssa and her tenacity to seek help for her mother. I loved how the author slowly revealed pieces of Alyssa's past and her different quirks (and where they came from). The bug artwork was fascinatingly creepy. Jeb, her friend and secret crush, was a bit more frustrating for me. His revelations throughout the book seemed to contradict his earlier actions, particularly with Alyssa. While I liked him and could feel the connection between him and Alyssa, I didn't love some of the choices he made (one being, I could never really get behind the justification of why he chose his other girlfriend). He's not at the top of my list of great male heroes, but I did love his loyalty and protectiveness, and how he gradually was able to see how strong Alyssa really was on her own. Morpheus was intriguing, and I loved how throughout the entire book I never really knew whether to trust him or not, or what his true motives were. I feel like the author did a great job with the mysteriousness of his character.

The ending was mixed for me - I liked how the author forced Alyssa's choices in Wonderland and how things eventually turned out there. Ms. Howard created many unique twists that I really liked. I had mixed feelings, however, toward the ending in the "real" world. The ending made sense to me, but I felt the timing was off and insensitive to some of the other parties (vague, I know, but I don't want to be spoilery).

Bottomline: This is a highly enjoyable and creative retelling of AiW, taking the reader back to Wonderland. There are so many new revelations and twists, though, that you'll feel like you are in the same story, yet looking at it with new eyes and in a way you probably wouldn't have imagined before. Well done, Ms. Howard!

4-1/2 STARS

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