Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard

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.
Hardcover, 371 pages

Published January 1st 2013 by Amulet Books 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I went in hoping for a new absolute favorite, but I was on the fence about how I felt about this book for awhile after reading it.  While there were a ton of things in Splintered that I adored (especially the new versions of characters within Wonderland), I didn’t love everything.

What I did love was that I felt the author precisely captured the balance of lunacy and nonsense from the original Lewis Carroll books.  I was absolutely enamored with her version of Wonderland: a slightly darker and more demented one than the Lewis Carroll stories, but also more whimsical and nonsensical than the more recent Tim Burton movie.  If murderous flowers and a tentacled Walrus have you remotely intrigued, you will not want to miss Splintered.  It was the darker interpretation of Alice in Wonderland I was waiting for (the Tim Burton movie didn’t really do it for me).

Also the motivations for Alyssa to dive head first into Wonderland and sort out the madness made sense: save her mom.  It was relatable and understandable.  But what I was impressed with was how Alyssa goes about her quest, not just the wondrous world that A. G. Howard created along the way (though I could gush some more about it if you’d like).  Some solutions were quite clever, while others were dumb luck that was cleverly written.

I adored everything after we reached Wonderland, but before that, I did feel the book was lacking… something.  I felt the story was a bit immature before that point, and almost wanted to throw the book a few times.  Specifically, some of the actions and words of Alyssa and Jeb in regards to their friendship/relationship were just inexcusable.  Jeb has been Alyssa’s best friend since childhood, but at the beginning of the story has been dating the girl who has been her tormentor since elementary school.  I didn’t feel that the pairing of Jeb and Taelor was realistic, but even so I thought that the actions of these three characters when the story was getting starting were nothing short of douchebaggery and stupidity.  Jeb also for some reason likes to tell Alyssa what to do in the beginning, resulting in me wanting to reach into the book and give him a good punch in the face for feminism’s sake.

However.  Most of this is rectified by the end.  So anyone who is sensitive to stupid teenagers, do not beware but be aware: most of the issues I had were rectified by the end of the novel.  I felt everything kept getting better as I read, even in the relationship category and especially in the world-building category (it just went from great to awesome-sauce topping glory).  Therefore, I recommend to anyone who loves Alice in Wonderland (in any form, be it the original books or either movies).  I think Splintered has something for any kind of Wonderland fan.  Just remember, if you start to read and get annoyed with Jeb, that it does get better.

Final Thought: 4 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads


  1. Glad to hear from you on this one as well, since you're such an Alice in Wonderland fan (obviously)! The cover and title drew me in the first time I saw them, so I'm glad to hear it's a worthwhile read. :)

    1. It is a spectacularly attractive cover. Thanks for reading :)

  2. I really really loved the world-building. The dark atmosphere and all the strange creatures, I was completely hooked. I absolutely hated Jeb and he did spoil a lot of the fun for me. I couldn't stand him at all! Morpheus on the other hand :D He was such a complex character and I hope to see more of him in part two, Unhinged. Great review!


    1. I know! Jeb nearly ruined the book! So wait, there's a part 2? THERE'S A PART 2?? did I not know about that. Thank you for letting me know!

    2. And I wanted to add that I adored Morpheus as well! That would be my one thing I would really like to change about Splintered: more Morpheus, less Jeb.

  3. "Jeb also for some reason likes to tell Alyssa what to do in the beginning, resulting in me wanting to reach into the book and give him a good punch in the face for feminism’s sake."

    Ahahaha, amen to that! Jeb's relationship with Alyssa was definitely my main problem with the book. The world of Wonderland was otherwise fantastic... and I personally loved how crazy Morpheus was. :)

    And yes, there is a second book coming out! I have no idea what it's going to be about but I'm certainly praying that Jeb doesn't make me throw the book across the room again.

    1. Right?! Let's hope Jeb is just... better. Now that they're actually defined as "together" I would think he should be less of a jerk. Or maybe the Jeb thing will just be over and Alyssa can enjoy some more crazy Morpheus-ness. Ahh, a girl can dream.