Author: A.G. Howard
Published: January 1st, 2013 by Amulet Books
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.
Splintered takes us back to Wonderland many years after Alice left, and it’s not as fun and happy as we thought it would be (I’m imagining the Disney version in my head). To break her family curse, Alyssa Gardner has to go to Wonderland and fix the mess Alice left behind. I really like the concept of the story and I think it’s more like a sequel to the original Alice in Wonderland rather than a retelling.
A.G. Howard has created a beautiful Wonderland. It’s dark, mysterious, and I thought it’s creepy. The writing is very descriptive and I could easily imagine the world she created. Wonderland’s residents in this book are so different from Lewis Carroll’s version (again, I’m thinking of the Disney movie). They are darker, more mysterious and grotesque (?). For example, the White Rabbit Rabid White:
“It’s not the White Rabbit or any kind of rabbit at all. It’s a tiny, dwarfish creature the size of a bunny. The legs, arms, and body are humanoid but fleshless –a bleached out skeleton.
The exception to the skeletal appearance is his bald head and his face of an old man, covered with flesh as pale as an albino’s.
Long white antlers sprout from behind each of his small human ears.”
I thought that all the Wonderlanders (is that a word?) are done beautifully, each has their own unique traits and I really enjoyed reading about them.
The main plot of the story was also really fun to read. Following Alyssa on her journey through Wonderland to complete a series of tasks/tests was great. I like how A.G. Howard used the story Alice in Wonderland as the foundation of Splintered instead of creating her own thing. I really like the plot twist about what really happened to Alice which I won’t mention here because spoiler. I do think the ending was a bit rushed. There’s a scene with Morpheus and the Bandersnatch that happened so fast I had to re-read to make sure I got it right.
I couldn’t really relate to Alyssa, though. I guess she’s okay, but I really don’t like how she has to think/talk about or mention Jeb in every other sentence. I mean, I get it. You looove Jeb. Enough already. She’s constantly wondering if Jeb loves her back, or if it’s just a ruse to get them home and it’s really annoying because there are bigger, more important things going on. I like Alyssa so much better when Jeb wasn’t around. Jeb’s girlfriend Taelor was so mean to her for no reason and she didn’t really defend herself or anything until the end of the book after they came back from Wonderland. I guess it’s supposed to show that she’s a stronger character after facing everything that happened in Wonderland, and she actually said it too, something like “I’m stronger now, not like I was before I fell down the rabbit hole”, but I don’t really see it. I feel like she’s still the same as she was at the beginning. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the whole reason Taelor exists in this story and being mean to Alyssa is so this ‘defending herself’ scene could happen. Oh, and also to create drama between Alyssa and Jeb, because every time something happens, Taelor’s name comes up.
It’s not that I don’t like Alyssa at all, I actually like her most of the time, when she’s doing cool magical netherling things and not thinking about Jeb. I have a lot of issues with Jeb, as you can probably deduct from all of the above. I don’t know why he’s a love interest. I rolled my eyes so many times while reading and it was all because of Jeb. I don’t and probably never will understand the whole “I’m dating her so I can stop thinking about you” thing. I mean, fine, if you want to date someone else, but why does it have to be the one person who is so mean to your best friend? And he actually tells Alyssa to ‘be nice’ to Taelor because ‘Taelor is dealing with a lot of things’. What. Is. That. Okay, I’ll stop now. I think I’ve made it obvious that I don’t like Jeb so I’ll stop :).
There’s a love triangle in this book but it’s not really much of a triangle because the whole time I knew who she was going to end up with. But I just have to say that Morpheus is the best thing in the entire book. He’s like the puppet master that orchestrates everything and it’s so much fun to read. It’s like when I’m watching Once Upon a Time and every time something happens you just know it’s Rumpelstiltskin’s fault. Morpheus is mysterious, manipulative and he’s willing to do almost anything for his own gain. He’s like the Warner of Splintered and I love it. Of course, there were times when I was reading that I thought ‘hmmm, this guy is actually awful’, but I still love Morpheus anyway. He loves Alyssa and he believes in her (like Warner and Juliette 🙂 ) and he lets her make her own decisions (unlike Jeb).
Overall, I think this book is pretty good, it has a good storyline and good writing. I do like all the characters except Jeb, and I love the Wonderland that A.G. Howard has created. While I don’t LOVE this book or think that it’s the most amazing book ever, I do like it enough that I will continue reading the sequels. This book may not be for everyone but it could be your next favorite book. If you’ve read Splintered, I’d love to hear what you think about it!
“Tearing down the rest of the world won’t make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That’s what fills the emptiness. It’s the only things that can.”