Splintered by A.G. Howard. Splintered, #1.
My copy: Amulet Books (ABRAMS), January 2013. Hardcover, 371 pages.
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.
Thoughts on Splintered:
How deliciously fantastical and twisted Wonderland is. It’s everything we all love about Lewis Carroll’s colorful world plus more. Lots more. It’s mad and overwhelming and always exciting.
Morpheus. A.K.A. moth dude. What a fascinating, manipulative being Morpheus is. He’s an immensely complicated character who is cunning and caring, and dripping with charisma and mystery. I don’t like how he tricked others just to reach his own goals (boy has a serious agenda of his own), but Morpheus was by far the greatest thing in Splintered. You can’t trust him, but he’s undeniably seductive and charming and interesting.
The luscious and descriptive writing. A.G. Howard knows how to create an atmosphere with her descriptions. Sometimes they get a bit overwhelming, I’ll admit, but I enjoyed how detailed and vibrant Wonderland and its inhabitants felt.
How mental health, specifically a mental facility, is portrayed. Knowing people who deal with mental illnesses in real life, it frustrated me to read about how poorly the facility treating Alyssa’s mother was operating.
Our protagonist, Alyssa Gardner. Like… meh? She wasn’t the worst heroine I’ve met, but she really didn’t grab my attention. Serviceable but not particularly special. Skateboarding and incorporating dead insects into artwork aren’t really hobbies I’m interested in. But points for originality?
Best friend/secret crush Jeb. Jeb was okay, but he was so overprotective of Alyssa. Make that possessive, even. Let the girl do her own thinking! I really disliked Jeb in the beginning of the book, I couldn’t see why Alyssa had the hots for him, especially when he was trying to run her life. He shaped up to be a knightly sort of guy as the story progressed in Wonderland (emphasis on knightly), but I’m definitely on the Morpheus ship, despite Morpheus having his problems.
Until we fall down the rabbit hole, it’s kind of slow. Then things happen and it goes at breakneck speed… for the most part. A few adventures weren’t really my cup of tea (har har), and the kissy stuff dragged on sometimes, as hot as it was. The pacing wasn’t a big problem for me, but it took me a while to get involved. And it took me even longer to get attached to any of the characters.
SPOILER! LOOK AWAY NOW! … … … The “reset” for one character. I loathe resets in character or plot. It makes all the work done prior meaningless, which just saddens me. It took me all that time to get invested and then the author went and undid all that had been done. Gah. END SPOILER.
I’ve heard that the series gets better. I hope it gets darker, actually, because I could really REALLY do with more dark and creepy Wonderland things. But mostly I just want more Morpheus. ♦
Have you read Splintered?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What Wonderland-based books have you read or want to read?
Comment below letting me know!