Release Date: January 1 2013
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.
THIS COVER!! Seriously. Before I say anything about the content of this book, scroll back up and just gawk at that cover. It’s so gorgeous. And in real life it’s so shiny! Honestly, it’s one of my favourite covers of all time. Just so eye-catching and colourful and it captures the mood of this story perfectly.
Speaking of the mood - Splintered is just the right level of bizarre/insane to match the original. Part of the fun of Alice is that the story is just so surprising. There are things you would never expect and characters you’ll never see anywhere else. A G Howard expertly adopts all of the things (like the Chesire Cat, the caterpillar, the Tea Party, castle guards made of cards) and give them yet another bizarre twist, adding an extra crazy dimension on top of an already whirl wind of a story. I also loved that this wasn’t really a retelling – because we’ve seen a lot of those lately – but more of a spin-off. It builds off the original work rather than try to retell. This made me appreciate it more on its own rather than just think about how successful it was at capturing the original story.
I’m not sure I can really give points for world building since it does take place in a pre-existing world but in lieu of that I want to give A G Howard ALL THE POINTS for gorgeous imagery. Wonderland and it’s inhabitants sprang up easily in my mind and the colours and costumes and everything was just gorgeous. A lot of books recently are getting turned into graphic novels (Blue Bloods, Vampire Academy etc) and I nominate this one be adapted next.
If you’re a fan of romance there’s something here for you too. Though there’s no romance in the original times have changed and Alyssa is older than her great great great grandmother was when she arrived in Wonderland. Plus she’s brought a friend – Jeb. There are some steamy scenes in this book my friends. More than once it made me full-out blush on the subway. What happens is actually pretty tame, but the scenes themselves are so full of chemistry and tension…*sigh*
That being said my feelings fluctuated on Jeb. Sometimes I loved him. Other times he annoyed me and I wanted him to let Ally think for herself. Even though she was more knowledgeable about the area and clearly an intelligent, independent thinker, he often treated her like a child that needed to be protected. Giant pet peeve of mine – male characters who think the female characters can’t take care of themselves. We’re not delicate flowers fellas! And if I’m feeling smothered on behalf of an imaginary character that’s not a good sign.
Alyssa is a super spunky heroine and I quickly became very attached to her. Also I want ALL her outfits. She reminded me of Ramona from Scott Pilgrim. Both in looks and attitude. She’s unique and not afraid to show it. And on top of it all she’s dealing with all this Wonderland craziness but never stops thinking about her family. You have to respect her for that. I understood why Jeb would follow her down the rabbit hole.
Recommendation: Splintered is a thrilling, bizarre tumble into the world of Wonderland. It’s not exactly how you remembered but you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time exploring it with Alyssa. Recommended for fans of Alice in Wonderland and other fairy tales.
About the Author
A.G. Howard is most at home when weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child. A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.