Author: A.G. Howard
Publishing Information: January 1, 2013 by Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Retellings, Romance, Fantasy
Series information: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Recommended For: Fans of darker fairy tale retellings, strong heroines and yummy kissy scenes!
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.
Wow. This is one of the first books that I have read and felt like I immediately needed to write a review. Now, days after finishing Splintered, I still cannot get the world out of my head. I am not a lover of Alice in Wonderland, Alice always annoyed me and the story was just too happy and simple for me, I think this is one reason that Splintered blew me away. Splintered was deliciously dark and descriptive. I had no problem imagining Wonderland as Alyssa (best name ever, am I right?) experienced it. Howard walks the reader through a vibrant world with characters that stay with you long past the last page.
Let’s get into those characters, shall we? First there is Alyssa, descendent of Alice (yes, the Alice) who is facing her own issues back in the real world. First off, her mom is in a mental hospital because she hears and talks to bugs and plants. The bigger issue here is that Alyssa can also hear these voices and her biggest fear is that she will end up just like her mother and be locked away awaiting shock therapy treatments. Then there is the normal teenage issues that we are all familiar with, she has a secret crush on her best friend, Jeb. Jeb is a sort of bad boy artist with a labret piercing and serious mechanic skills, he also feels as if it is his duty to protect Alyssa from all things, and though endearing, she doesn’t always love this about him. Finally, there is Morpheus. Oh Morpheus how do I even begin to describe you? Morpheus has a few forms but in a nutshell he is a fantastical, blue haired, brooding bad ass with a killer set of wings that can both fly you into the starlight and keep you warm if you’re feeling chilly. I bet you guys sense a love triangle happening here, and I can’t lie, it’s a biggie.” I was super CONFLICTED while reading this and there were many texts to my girls stating “I love the pierced one again,” and “OMG he has wings!” Honestly, after finishing the book I still don’t know how I am feeling or who I love more, I think I am happy with the ending but then I obsess a bit more and I just don’t know! *sigh* But guys, I can’t lie to you, it was worth it because these were some of the best KISSY SCENES I have read in a while. Seriously I WANT MOAR PLEASE!
“I hate you,” I say, the sentiment muffled against his heart, hoping to make it true.
“And I love you,” he answers without hesitation, voice resolved and raw as he holds me tighter so I can’t break away and react. “A crossroads, my beautiful princess, that was unavoidable—given our situations.”
I loved what Howard did with the secondary characters; they are turned from happy and whimsical beings to dark and frightening creatures. The White Rabbit is now Rabid White, Tweedle Dee and Dum are now grotesque female keepers of lost souls, The Mad Hatter literally becomes his work and you learn a little bit about the Queen of Hearts and why she became so bitter. “Off with her head!” has found new meaning in this debut novel.
I recommend this book to those of you looking for a new twist on a childhood tale, more reminiscent of Tim Burton than Lewis Caroll. It was adventurous, romantic and all together mad.
As I mentioned above, this novel is still running through my head and this morning I couldn’t stop thinking of this song by Kimbra as a delicious companion to the novel.