Friday, June 5, 2015

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Publication Date:  January 1, 2013
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Series:  Splintered #1
Pages:  371
Genre:  Fantasy Retelling
Synopsis:  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.

Review:  Splintered is a story based on the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland.  I have been meaning to read this for a few years and have only just gotten around to it.  I liked it, but I wish I had read it those few years ago because I think I would have liked it better then.

Howard is crazy good at writing imagery.  All of Wonderland is described in great, eccentric detail.  My only issue with the writing is that Howard tried too hard to make her characters cool and alternative.  It is like those parents who attempt to speak to teenagers in "cool teen slang" and end up making fools out of themselves.  

The plot could also use some work.  It's just a bit all over the place and too drawn out.  It's as if things keep happening to the characters, but nothing really happens, if that makes sense.  The central plot is decent, but there is a never ending line of detours and wild goose chases that distract from it.  Maybe Howard was trying to show as much of Wonderland as she possibly could, but she could have incorporated it better to the story.  Not to mention the convoluted plot line.  There are one too many twists and "oh, no, this is what really happened" type scenarios going on, and it gets tiring after the third or fourth time. 

Aside from that, Wonderland itself is pretty awesome.  It stays loyal to the original Alice in Wonderland by weaving in details from it while also being a unique take on story.  In fact, this is probably the highest point of the book, and certainly the most enjoyable.

As for the characters, they are more of a low point.  Alyssa is a weak character filled with bizarre hobbies and traits instead of a real personality.  Throughout the course of the book, she remains fairly passive.  She just lets things happen without her attempting to understand them or even fight against them.  But she's a delight compared to her best friend, Jeb.

Jeb sucks.  There, I said it.  He is a possessive, controlling boy who treats Alyssa like she is a child.  The fact that his and Alyssa's relationship becomes a romantic one alarms me.  Not to mention how he is dating the Stereotypical Mean Girl (with daddy issues, surprise, surprise) who constantly bullies Alyssa. To be frank, I kind of want to push Jeb down a deep, dark hole that isn't Wonderland and leave him there.

Now, the other love interest, Morpheus, also sucks.  But he sucks considerably less so than Jeb.  He's a villain, but he isn't.  He has an interestingly dark and ambiguous personality that comes into play throughout the course of the novel.  In the end, neither are great boyfriend material, but if I was held a gunpoint, I would choose Morpheus.  

Ah, the romance, the love triangle that took up far too much time and focus.  The romance seems out of place, and the book would be better without its presence.  Other than the boys and Alyssa, Wonderland has a cast of crazy characters that are sadly never fleshed out.

Splintered was somehow both enjoyable and painful to read, and I'm on the fence about reading the sequel.  We'll see.  

3 Keys


  1. I have yet to read this series, the covers are all soo gorgeous though! It would be interesting to see how the author re-creates the retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I hope I might enjoy this one more than you though. Wonderful review overall <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. I know! That is what initially drew me in--the stunning covers! They're incredible. It is a good retelling of Alice in Wonderland, wherein it stays true to the original. I do hope you enjoy this more than I did! I know a good number of people have loved it, it just wasn't for me. Thank you for commenting!