Author: A.G. Howard
Published: January 6th, 2015 by Amulet Books
After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles… and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world—a parallel dimension filled with mutated and sadistic netherling outcasts.
In the final installment of the Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But even if everyone succeeds and comes out alive, can they all truly have their happily ever after?
I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m pretty sure I like it a lot, but then I’ll remember some things that made me so annoyed and I don’t know if I like it that much.
In Ensnared, Alyssa, together with her dad and Chessie, traveled to AnyElsewhere, where all the Wonderland rejects live, to save Jeb and Morpheus before going to Wonderland to get her mom. There’s another evil queen in town and surprise surprise, Queen Red is there too. So now Alyssa must fight her way through the evil bird minions, an acid pool that somehow melts the entire body except the heart, and also settle the whole issue with Jeb. Sigh.
AnyElsewhere is totally different from Wonderland. The residents are unable to use their magic because of the iron dome surrounding AnyElsewhere. I thought the setting was very well done, as usual. I’ve said this before in my review of the previous books, A.G. Howard’s writing style is very descriptive and the words flow beautifully without excessive fluff. I really like the vivid imagery of AnyElsewhere and also Wonderland. It’s so much more fun than the ‘real world’ in Unhinged. Like I said, staying in Wonderland vs high school? Wonderland wins.
I love Alice in Wonderland. So every time I see an Alice retelling, I would probably read it. With this series, I really like the idea of Alice’s descendants going back to Wonderland and facing off with the evil Queen Red. But I find that it focuses waaay too much on the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading about romance in YA, but in this book, I feel like the romance is taking over the plot. While I was reading, I was just thinking “okay, okay, get on with the action already”. Alyssa is more focused on why Jeb is being a jerk (as usual) than the whole ‘defeating Queen Red and saving everyone’ thing. The way I see it, just like in the previous books, Alyssa doesn’t really do anything except being present. It was always Morpheus doing all the plotting and the planning and the carrying out of the plan and Alyssa won’t know what’s going on until it’s over and she’ll blame Morpheus for something awful she thought he did. *run on sentence*. I mean, come on. You were too busy trying to talk to Jeb! I cannot.
I do like how Alyssa’s dad is included on her adventure instead of being absent like in most YA books. His background is actually very interesting. His brother, Bernard, is introduced in this book and readers get to learn more about Alyssa’s family history. It turns out, her mom’s side of the family is not the only magical one. Morpheus is awesome, as usual. I don’t think I would’ve continued reading this series if he wasn’t in it. I think I pretty much like all the characters in this series except Jeb and Alyssa, which is sad because Alyssa is the main character and the entire series is from her POV. In the beginning of Ensnared, I actually liked her more than in the previous books. She seemed so different to me, much better, but then they arrived in AnyElsewhere, she saw Jeb and she went back to being the girl she was before. The one I don’t like.
The ending is very confusing for me. I don’t understand why it had to end the way it did. It could’ve ended a different way (preferably my way 😀 ) and it would’ve been so much better. I’m trying so hard not to include a spoiler here but it’s difficult to explain what I mean without spoiling the book. I’ve read a few reviews mentioning similarities to The Infernal Devices and I get it, but I don’t think that it works for this book. I wish I could say more about why I don’t like the ending, but I know that I will spoil the book if I say anything more, so I’m going to stop.
If I wrote this review immediately after reading the book, I probably would’ve given it 4 stars. But alas, I wrote this review more than a week after reading and so I’ve had more time to think about it, and I decided to give it 3 stars instead. I know it seems like I have a lot of issues with this book, but aside from the ending, I actually do like it (3 stars on Goodreads = ‘I like it’). I thought the story is great whenever the actual plot managed to emerge from the sea of romance, I liked the world building a lot and if Alyssa could actually focus more on the important issues, I would definitely like her a lot more. I would recommend this series to people who love Alice in Wonderland stories like I do. If you don’t mind all the romance I think you would really enjoy this book. I hear that A.G. Howard will be releasing another book in 2017 which is a Phantom of the Opera spin-off, so I will definitely be reading that because it’s Phantom :D.
“The lack of magic is what leads humans to fantasize in the first place. And Alyssa, what a wonderfully powerful force an imagination can be.”
― A.G. Howard, Ensnared