Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance, contemporary
Length: 12hrs 42min
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
My rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (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.
In high school, I wasn’t a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland story. I remember having to read it in English class to improve my – at the time – truly awful language skills, but I just couldn’t get into it. It was weird and kind of creepy in a way I couldn’t appreciate at the time. That experience had me overlook this book for quite a while despite so many people’s recommendations, until now. I just didn’t think this story was for me. Once again, I’m proven wrong.
Splintered is a truly fresh twist on the original tale, just the right mix of creepiness (this book REALLY didn’t help my paralyzing fear of insects), romance (I may have melted a time or two…) and humor.
Alyssa is a great heroine. She’s smart and tough with a few insecurities. Her fear of ending up like her mother is quite valid, but she doesn’t let it control her. She’s not afraid to do what needs to be done, but doesn’t come across as stupid or irresponsible. Her love for the people she cares about drives her every action, giving her the courage to succeed. Which brings me to the love interests. There’s two of them, of course, because we just can’t have a fantasy book without the compulsory love triangle these days, right? For future reference: I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. I REALLY REALLY HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. They create unnecessary drama and take up space that could be filled with far better things. And in the end it leaves a portion of the readers hugely disappointed. But since it’s an inevitable part of most YA series these days I guess I’ll just have to deal. Splintered has the kind of love triangle that was a no brainer for me. I’m not even a little bit torn over which guy I would choose. Jeb is great. Not perfect, but my definition of a good guy. He makes some questionable decisions but he’s dependable and hard-working. He’s there for Alyssa even when she’s doing her best to push him away. He’s making something of himself. Morpheus? Ugh. He represents the kind of dark/mysterious/supposedly-sexy guy I don’t find the least bit appealing. He’s selfish and untrustworthy. He’s only semi-decent when he’s alone with Alyssa. He’s bad news. That puts him on my fictional-hot-guys-I-wouldn’t-go-anywhere-near list right next to Warner from Shatter me. And it doesn’t help that he’s basically a giant insect. Unfortunately for me, I strongly suspect I’m on the wrong team here.
The supporting characters only make fleeting appearances in both the real world and in Wonderland. We see glimpses of Alyssa’s family and her best friend Jen, as well as Jeb’s awful girlfriend (like I said, questionable decisions). In Wonderland we meet all the familiar faces from the original story like the White Rabbit or the Mad Hatter with a few interesting twist on them. The ending ties things up nicely with the possibility of a sequel that we already know is coming. Alyssa made a temporary choice regarding her love life here, but the triangle is far from over. *sigh*
Overall, Splintered is a fast-paced and very enjoyable read. I’m excited to see what Unhinged has in store for us.
“From a distance, we look like we’re riding fireflies across the northern lights, sweeping in and out of one another’s glowing jet streams.”
“Can’t leave you in charge of the place looking like a circus clown reject. What if a hot guy comes in?”
“Some people have no business attending a dignified tea. Gawking as if I belong in a zoo, when they’re the ones who have all the manners and fashion sense of a monkey.”
The audio version of this book is a real treat. Rebecca Gibel does a truly fantastic job of bringing each and every character to life, giving distinct and sometimes hilarious (looking at you Humphrey) voices to all of them.