Splintered by A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Romance, Retelling, Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 1st 2013
Synopsis: 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 have always adored Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (a.k.a Alice in Wonderland) and Through the Looking-Glass. When I first read Alice in Wonderland I wanted to go out and find my own rabbit-hole, fall down, and have nonsensical adventure like Alice did. Actually, I still want to go find a rabbit-hole 😛 The utter nonsense and strangeness that are within the pages of the stories had me falling in love. And so began my journey eagerly looking out for Alice in Wonderland retellings in every shape and form, trying to find more beautiful Wonderlands.
Splintered is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and I believe that the novel beautifully captures the nonsense and strangeness that the original tale contained and screams a bit of the delicious madness of American McGee’s Alice and Alice: Madness Returns. I only say a bit because those games are so disturbing and mad that they will scar you.
A.G. Howard vividly paints a twisted Wonderland that is full of life with her words. Howard masterfully creates twisted versions of the inhabitants of Wonderland with a clever mind. The author’s writing is evocative and detailed but it never becomes too flowery. The text itself is also very wonderful, dipped in violet.
Almost all the characters–side characters and main– are excellent. First, I would like to tip my hat to the twisted versions of the Alice in Wonderland characters. I loved them all. The morbidly cute Mustela netherling, the ugly little fairies, the woman who can’t remember anything without her ribbons, White Rabid, Chessie, and a great many more. They were all so colorful and eccentric that I grew attached to them quickly!
Alyssa Gardner, Morpheus, and Jeb are the main characters of this novel. I only warmed up to two of them: Alyssa and Morpheus. Those two grew and developed which is something that I require in most books. Alyssa had a very long journey and she grew, developed, and became a stronger character. She also had her own interesting quirk–making mosaics with bugs? Yes, definitely a strange quirk. Morpheus is, to be put simple, a character that I loved and loathed. His cryptic words and scheming behind the scenes made me hate him. But he is very honest about himself, I think and some of his dialogue is very humorous. And when his regrets were revealed I felt really sorry for him. The only character I didn’t like was Jeb. Jeb was the weakest character of the group. He ruffled my feathers often. I didn’t find much personality to him
There is a love triangle in Splintered. I don’t abhor it but I do think that this novel would be better without it. Splintered had its moments where the focus was on the love triangle and not the fantastic world that Howard created. I found this incredibly irritating.
There is pain that the characters have to go through. Past regrets and guilt, allegedly insane family members, the threat of going mad yourself, having trouble fitting in, not feeling comfortable in your own skin, and abuse. There is also the fact that two characters have to travel and survive a insane world filled with dangers. Awhile there aren’t any tear jerking moments in this novel I did feel sorry for the characters–yes, even Jeb to some extent.
And have I mentioned how fun it was to find all the allusions–other than the all twisted up characters– to the original Alice in Wonderland? No? Well, it was very fun! Being the Alice in Wonderland fanatic I am I kept a close eye out for any allusions…even the smallest ones. There are even some nods American McGee’s Alice. One allusion to the game that I particularly liked was the Vorpal Sword.
This is a book in which the author clearly did her research and spent a lot of effort on coming up with the ideas–which were very unique. This novel does have its flaws but the fantastic Wonderland, allusions, and original ideas made it worth reading.