Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Alice in Wonderland

Unhinged by A.G. Howard: Frodo’s Review


Summary From GoodreadsUnhinged by A.G. Howard

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.


Unhinged…was not what I expected. Splintered, book one in the series, showcased this dark and edgy depiction of Wonderland that I fell in love with. The humor, characters, and style that were used fascinated me and had me hungry for more, instantly I pre-ordered Unhinged.

The characters are there. Morpheus is shown in all of his glory and mysteriousness. Jeb is still loyal, in love, and the kind of knight in shining armor that I expected him to be. Alyssa is conflicted, but slowly finding herself; magical, but wild and unsure.

Danger is lurking with the Red Queen once again causing all sorts of chaos, as well as the turmoil of the heart as Alyssa has to decide who she wants to be with and the life that they can offer her. Drama, magic, and incredible displays of artwork fill this story and make it wonderful with the same dark overtones that I enjoyed so much in the first book.

What’s the major difference? While many of the magical creatures of Wonderland make an appearance, my favorite being that of the White Rabbit (or Rabid White as he is known in this series), the shock to me was how much of this story took place in the “real world” rather than the magical Wonderland I had fallen so in love with. After giving it a fair bit of thought I can understand some of the reasoning for why Howard wanted to do this as there were many issues that needed to be taken care of there, but it caught me off guard.

What Howard did manage to do by keeping the majority of the focus on our world is make it seem magical in and of itself. She makes it so we question our surroundings, second guess preconceived notions of the way things “work” here, and I certainly don’t look at bugs or flowers the same anymore. She made reality wondrous and that is no easy feat.

So did I enjoy Unhinged? Yes. Was it the story I thought I was going to be getting? Nope. Does it really matter? Not really, I enjoyed the tale and I am just as excited, if not more so, to read book three in the series (even though I have to wait a year to do it) which I will likely pre-order as soon as possible. If you liked Splintered, especially the cast of characters, then you will enjoy Unhinged as well. Oh, and if you haven’t read Splintered yet, please do so, it is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite books that I read last year. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #12/365

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Day 45: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Day 45

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.

My reaction to the plot and world building

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

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