Hardcover: 384 Pages
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Narration: First Person: Alyssa
Series: Stand Alone
Order On Amazon: Hardcover
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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.
My first reaction to this cover.....
I kid you not, it freaked me out that much. Now that I look back on it, I don't really understand why I had this reaction in the first place. Maybe it was the slightly deranged glint in her eye? Or the creepy gnarled vines and way too vibrant flowers in the background? Whatever the reason, it gave me the shivers! However, after I read the summary and the motto at the top, I had a epiphany (I just love the sound of that word. Try it! E-piph-any.....Yeah I'm nuts, I know). After being enlightened about what this novel was based off of, I looked at it from a new perspective and it soon made perfect sense! It was like hearing the light bulb ding above your head or the feel of that last pesky puzzle piece falling into place. The cover portrays exactly what I imagined this dark and twisted Wonderland to be, with a slightly insane girl featured in the middle of it all, who immediately made me think of noneother than Alice herself!
I have to admit that I have never read Alice In Wonderland before, and have only gotten the opportunity to watch the movie adaption. There aren't many retellings based off of this story, but from the ones I have read (Alice In Zombieland), I wasn't all that impressed. Splintered, however, was a different story. I thought it was really cool how Howard intertwined both elements from Lewis Caroll's Wonderland with her own imagination and transformed it into a twisted and violent world. Of course since I haven't read the real Alice In Wonderland, I can't judge whether or not it was related to the events that took place in Caroll's version, but from what I remember of the movie, it was pretty clever.
At first, the protagonist, Alyssa Gardner, seemed like a pretty cool chick to me. Ever since her mom was committed to an asylum, she tried her best to act and dress like the complete opposite of her crazy mother in hopes that she wouldn't end up like her one day. Even though Alyssa's change of style was partly because of her mom, she was still a tomboy at heart who wasn't afraid to be the odd one out. One thing's for sure, not many people would have the guts to wear the eccentric outfits she wore in this book. Alyssa was the type of person who didn't like leaning on others for support. She was a independent, headstrong girl who fought her own battles, and that was why I loved her character. Her reactions to her mother's situation and all the problems springing up in her life felt realistic, and because of that, I could connect with her character better.
However, as the story progressed, I liked her less and less. Although she still retained her independent nature, which was one of her few saving graces, she became annoyingly juvenile, and I ended up having to constrain myself from slapping my kindle around out of aggravation. Prior to reading this book, I already knew it was going to be one of those YA love triangles. Which surprisingly I was looking forward too! However, I didn't feel the romance that the author was trying to place on the characters. Alyssa kept on going back and forth between Morpheus and Jeb like choosing whether she wanted Peanut Butter or Jelly on a sandwich. She treated them like they were just toys to be used and thrown away and even had the audacity to be jealous and reprimand one guy for it, while she was dating, or whatever the heck you can call their relationship, the other guy!
As I said above, there were two love interests. Both Jeb and Morpheus have a dark side and a haunting story to tell, but for all intents and purposes, let's just say that Jeb is day and Morpheus is night. Jeb is portrayed as the knight in shining armor. The sun to Alyssa's otherwise gloomy day. I enjoyed reading the conversations that Jeb and Alyssa had, because the playful insults they traded with each other had the potential to draw out a few chuckles from me here and there. Yes, I do agree with other bloggers when they say that Jeb is too overprotective of her and needs to back off and give her some room. But! You can clearly see that Jeb is doing it out of love and truly cares about what happens to her. Jeb grows throughout the novel as well! Not sure when it takes place, but somewhere during their journey through Wonderland, he realizes that Alyssa isn't some defenseless little damsel in distress in need of constant help, but instead a strong and independent woman capable of fighting her own battles.
Morpheus. Oh Gosh. From all the descriptions I've read of him, I expected him to be some broody and sexy guy who helps Jeb and Alyssa along the way. I was prepared for the jealousy and the heartache, but Morpheus didn't even come close to my high expectations. Before he made a appearance, I was literally jumping up and down saying, "Is he gonna come now? Is he gonna come now?" but when I did meet him it was a sore disappointment. Yes, he had that bad boy and mysterious nature about him that most girls find irresistible, but in my opinion, he was just a conniver who had his own agenda. He kept on manipulating others into doing his bidding, and I just wanted to smack him throughout the whole book! There were only a few parts in the novel when I felt that he was slightly genuine in his feelings for Alyssa, but other than that, nope, didn't like him.
The beginning drew me in right away with its gruesomeness. It started off with Alyssa pinning butterflies and flowers onto easels in order to get them to stop talking to her. Not your most normal introduction xD. The relationship Alyssa and Jeb had was intriguing, and I was thoroughly entranced by everything that was happening. However, as soon as Alyssa fell down the rabbit hole with Jeb trailing just behind her, the action slowly dwindled. Which really should be the other way around. Howard had a great idea with enourmous potential, but the actual Wonderland part didn't fascinate me or make me want to read more about it.
Overall, I had high expectations for Splintered, but sadly it fell flat for me. The beginning was fast paced, but as the story progressed, my previously rapt attention soon diminished to a slightly interested but mostly blase feeling. Nonetheless, I loved the way Howard tied in the original elements from Alice In Wonderland and used them to her advantage. If you enjoy reading fantastical novels such as Alice In Wonderland and are drawn to dark and twisted books, you might want to check out what Splintered has to offer.
"He laughs, dark and soft, under his breath. "I am a man in every way that counts. Just like you are a woman, even if some people believe you're nothing more than a scared little girl in constant need of saving." -Splintered by A.G. Howard
This review was entered for the 2013 January Debut Challenge.