Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review of Splintered by A.G. Howard

Title/Author: Splintered by A.G. Howard
Publisher/Date published: Amulet Books, January 1st 2013
How I got this book: bought it

Goodreads summary: 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 always have mixed feelings before diving into a retelling, I'm both excited and worried the author has screwed up one of the stories I know by heart. I'd heard people rave about Splintered before I started it (namely Rachel @ Fiktshun whose taste in books I completely trust) and guys, IT WAS SO GOOD!!!

I absolutely love the tale of Alice in Wonderland and this darker, twistier version of what exactly happened is just my kind of story! A.G. Howard has managed to completely alter my perception of Lewis Carroll's tale, making me even more intrigued and gah, now I want to re-read his original tale! And this one! I loved the tale but couldn't get into the writing style as a kid, so I might just have to give it another try.

Alyssa is a little off-beat and I like that. I thought using bugs she traps and kills for her art was a little gruesome, but it fit into the story really well. I felt so bad for Alyssa, being afraid she would go mad like her mother and trying desperately not to resemble her in any way. I loved seeing her grow throughout the novel and embrace her identity, it was wonderful! I would have liked to have seen a little more of how things were the 'real world' before diving into Wonderland, but I can easily overlook this, cause the story really took off once we went down the rabbit hole.

Of course there are the boys: Jeb and Morpheus. And for once, while I'm usually all about the good guy, and I do love Jeb, I could actually imagine choosing Morpheus. That is one sexy winged guy! And he could relate to Alyssa's darker side far better and got her connection to Wonderland. I kinda loved his dual nature.
But Jeb stole my heart as well with his protectiveness and his genuine caring for Alyssa and just being selfless.

I really got lost in A.G. Howard's writing and her version of Wonderland! I kinda saw some of the twists coming, but was shocked by the ones I didn't! And it felt wonderful! I was so rooting for Alyssa, Jeb AND Morpheus (I can't help it, I love him) to figure everything out and I wasn't sure whether to wish for Alyssa to stay in Wonderland or to return to her home, but I was just so there in the moment with these characters! I love it when that happens!

I was kinda sad about one thing though:
Jeb forgot EVERYTHING that happened in Wonderland!! I mean, seriously? All the moments in which I adored him and he just doesn't remember any of it?? Also: how is Alyssa ever going to tell him about it? Is she going to tell him at all? I just don't want to let these characters go and want ALL THE ANSWERS!

A.G. Howard's writing is vivid and amazing and completely lives up to the gorgeousness that is the cover of Splintered! With this as her debut, I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I completely fell in love with this dark and twisty version of Alice in Wonderland and am already itching to reread it!

My rating: 5 stars


  1. Everyone has been raving about this book. I might have to add it to the wishlist (which is starting to groan already).

  2. I am really glad you loved Splintered! For me, it wasn't exactly my favorite book but I am so glad people liked the darkness and quirkiness of it. :-)

    I kind of liked Morpheus too. And yes, sigh the end with Jeb and your spoiler.

  3. I am so excited to read this! Especially after your review! Love re-tellings (but yes, always a little nerve-wracking) and the library needs to get its butt in gear, I need this book!

  4. I keep hearing such interesting things about this book. I think I will end up reading it since I am a fan of retellings....

  5. I'm glad you liked it over all!
    With retellings it can be an epic win or an epic fail and it sounds like this one sails pretty well.


  6. I'm so glad to finally read an enthusiastic review of this book! After all the negativity, I'd sort of written it off, but you made me really excited for it again! I'm curious for this retelling :) Lovely review!

  7. I love love LOVED! this book lol. I really liked Jeb but he was too protective sometimes. Morpheus was my favorite :D Oh and about the end. I think everything came together nicely but at the same time it left future questions open and I too don't want to let it all go! I didn't want it to end. Great review.

  8. Eep. You've honestly made me TEN TRILLION times more excited to read this book! I already love the fact that it's inspired by Alice in Wonderland; the fact that the story sounds fantastic and the characters sound memorable are making me anticipate this one even more!

  9. The book description, for once, is perfect. This is a stunning debut, and it does capture the grotesque madness of a magical and much-loved world.

    A. G. Howard puts her own delightful twist on the story behind the story, and begins her adventure with the mystery of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With this dash of originality, we are introduced to a contemporary fantasy, one that involves another tumble into the rabbit hole, this time with Alyssa Gardner and her good friend Jeb. There are the echoes of familiar characters, from the White Rabbit, to the Caterpillar and his hookah. We have the kings and the queens, and the remnants of Alice’s tears. There is even a splendid nod to the tea party and the Mad Hatter. Howard's rendition is not lacking in creativity, and features a sea of tears, giant spider-women, an octo-walrus and many, many other outrageous and wild things. It is exciting and mad, in exactly the way I expect all Wonderland retellings to be.

    Without distracting from the splendour of the story, a romance builds between Alyssa and Jeb. While not without complications and teenage angst, it is a sweet and modern romance, filled with satisfying tension and emotion. Be warned, this is not a perfect romance between perfect people. It is dramatic, sometimes very much so, and if that is not something you can tolerate, or remotely enjoy reading about, tread carefully with Splintered. There is also – cue the groans – a light love triangle. I live to bitch about love triangles (really, I do) but, surprisingly, I was happy to accept (too strong a word?) the situation in this book because I knew I would get my way in the end. Let me put it this way. If you enjoyed Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo regardless of the love triangle, then I have no doubt you will be tolerant of the romantic plot in this book too. If it is any consolation, it does not take anything away from the magic of the overall story. If anything, it adds to it.

    The main characters, Alyssa, Jeb and Morpheus, are all likeable, or at least, intriguing. Alyssa’s initial quirkiness sprouts from her ability to hear the whispers of insects and the flutter of wings. While her decisions are not always easy to appreciate, she is a delightful and brave protagonist and not difficult to warm to. Morpheus is seduction and mystery, expertly wrapped into a dark, enticing package. He is the other love interest, a constant enigma, and his role not quite as exasperating as you might imagine. Jeb, however, is my favourite. While he is evidently ruled by his emotions, and sometimes not in the most positive of ways, it is testament to Howard’s characterisation skills that he remains appealing throughout, despite the obvious flaws. Admittedly, his protectiveness over Alyssa is, at times, constricting and unrealistic, but not so much so that I failed to enjoy the story because of it.

    I initially, perhaps too soon, rated this book 5 stars. Upon reflection, however, I realise it is not faultless and do have to admit that the ending is... not quite what I needed. Regardless, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed A.G. Howard’s debut novel and could not have hoped for a better renewal of a favourite classic. This is a book best suited to readers who do not tire of adventurous plots, and who are inclined to decent-sized portions of romance. And, of course, this is a book for those longing to hurdle head-first into the surreal madness of Wonderland.

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  10. I am now addicted to this series. I couldn't read the first and second quickly enough! But now I have to wait a whole year for the third to come out, im no good with patience.
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