Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Published January 1st 2013 by Amulet Books
Format: Paper Book
Length: 371 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Dark Fairytale
Reading Level: Mature Teen
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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 adore Alice in Wonderland and any novel with even an inkling of connection to it gets a definite read from me. That’s why I was so excited to finally get my hands on Splintered by A.G. Howard after waiting for two weeks for a copy to finally become available at my library. I always say; it takes a bit of madness to deal with Wonderland. Unfortunately, all my excitement was for not. I was extremely disappointed with Splintered. It pinged every annoyance button I have in regards to YA novels and drove me nuts while I read it because I could see the potential for a great novel hidden underneath irritating main characters and the nauseating and aggravating teenage romance. I’m about to be very harsh here. You’ve been warned.
First; the good. I loved the dark, gritty remake of Wonderland. It’s a more mature version of the fantastical land, where everything is now covered with a layer of horror; completely unlike what we see in the original novel and the Disney movie. It’s a very English look at the fairy creatures, which are more often portrayed as not very nice or good. I love it when authors working with Alice and Wonderland revamp the story into a more adult version. Howard’s Wonderland is nightmarish and fascinating. All of the secondary characters are fantastic. The Twid Sisters in the cemetery are my favorite, although the dark fairytale quality to everyone makes the reimagined characters so much fun. The plot is complex and the twist surprisingly a surprise. The world-making in Splintered is the best part of the whole novel.
Second; the bad. For me, this meant all of the main characters. Alyssa is a whiny child and Jeb is a controlling alpha male that should have been left on the opposite side of the mirror. Morpheus is okay but I feel he could have had a bit more mystery about him. He’s solidly cast as a sort of villain rather early in the book and I feel he could have had a bit more “is he or isn’t he” surrounding him. But my main peeve with this book is Alyssa and Jeb and their utterly stupid romance. Jeb is an obstacle to Alyssa’s journey and character development. He’s a controlling alpha male that needs to go away so Alyssa can continue her development into an independent person. As it is, Alyssa comes off as a whiny child that can’t deal with anything. This is not what I am looking for in a protagonist. The romance is clichéd, the page long descriptions of kissing are more nauseating than anything else, and the pair fairly ruins the book in my opinion.
The novel does get better near the end but that’s only because Jeb falls into a crevasse and is then carted off to the castle and Alyssa actually has to deal with things rather than focusing on Jeb’s honey sweet lips and perfect butt or whatever the hell it was. Look; I get that they are teenagers and I understand being focused on your crush but there is ‘focused’ and then there is obsessed and codependent and maybe you two should see other people. The novel is a touch too long in my opinion and would have gained from moving a little faster. So, Splintered by A.G. Howard was a fail for me. It reads like a check list of the most annoying things about YA novels for me. Maybe you like that type of romance and Alyssa and Jeb’s utter occupation with each other (completely ignoring any type of character development and bogging the plot down to a crawl) is something you might like. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
Posted on March 14, 2013, in book review, fantasy, fiction and tagged Alice in Wonderland, book review, books, dark, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, Splintered by A.G. Howard. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.