Day 45: Splintered by A.G. Howard
Summary From Goodreads:
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 haven’t read a fairy tale retelling in quite some time, but if this is what they were all like I’d never stop. Splintered was a fantastic twist on the original Alice in Wonderland story, arguably better and more compelling than the original. It was much darker and more realistic, shredding away any sense of cutesy fairy tale creatures and replacing them with the true characters that our childlike selves refuse to let us see.
Alyssa is a bit of a mixed bag for me as the main character. While I do like her sense of humor and twisted sense of art, she is very, very clingy and boy-crazy. Whether it is Jeb or Morpheus, when one of them is around she is all over them fawning and wishing to be theirs, jealous at the slightest sign of either of them liking anyone else. While that part can get annoying, she does stand up for herself and though the guys in her life always seem to protect her, she truly doesn’t ask for it and does genuinely seem to want to handle her own problems which is admirable even if she does fail at it most epicly. Jeb is the standup guy that every girl seems to dream of, the whole knight in shining armor to a tee. Morpheus on the other hand is the polar opposite, if you aren’t into the super-good-guy routine, then maybe his slightly emo/tortured soul/kick-butt badass one works for you. They make for a fun dynamic.
Then there is the love triangle (I’m ignoring a girl from the beginning because she was never a threat really) which in this case works pretty well. Alyssa seems to actually have difficulty deciding who she wants to be with at times and there is legitimate uncertainty as to who she will choose for quite a while which is vital if you are going to try and pull one of these off. There is an excessive amount of lovey-dovey moments especially directed from Alyssa, as I mentioned earlier, and that did get a bit old. Overall it worked, I just didn’t want it to be quite as much of the focus, the next part is the reason why.
The plot & world that Howard built are just freaking amazing. The action is steady throughout but doesn’t overpower the more serious/informative parts of the storyline which isn’t always an easy feat. Alyssa manages to do something pretty incredible at every turn, usually by complete accident. The creepiness of the wonderland characters and the way they interact with each other and Alyssa keeps things interesting and the impending doom (in a variety of ways) keeps the reader on their toes. At every turn a new way of tearing down the facade of the Alice in Wonderland innocent world is shown and I thought it was brilliantly done.
The book was great. What made it even more amazing was that this was a freaking debut, how the heck is Howard filled with that much awesome already?! Regardless, I can’t wait for their next book to come out so I can devour it immediately. Thanks as always for reading, if you haven’t read Splintered go get it now and come back tomorrow for Day 46!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #45/365