Author: A. G. Howard
Publication Date: January 1st 2013
Length: 371 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Splintered #1
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.
I have been curious about this book ever since I first laid my eyes on it (I mean, look at that cover!), and couple of days ago, I finally got the chance to start reading it. I had heard lots and lots of people loving it, but I’m sad to say that I’m one of the few who didn’t. Why the hell not, you might think to yourself. Well, all in good time.
First, we should talk about the cover of this book :). I don’t know about you, but I for one think it’s absolutely gorgeous! Look at the colours! Look at the girl! Look at her smile! For god’s sake, look at everything! It’s so perfect and creepy that I just want to laugh like a mad scientist. I love it so much :).
The lovely cover was what really drew me in and forced me to read Splintered, but its greatness raised my expectations so much that the fall ended up being even more painful.
You see, I went into this book with this picture in my head of how the story would be, but I guess I must’ve been delusional, because it didn’t exactly turn out to be the way I wanted. And when things aren’t as I imagined, I tend to end up disappointed. Not always, but often.
When I picked up Splintered, I expected a very disturbing and weird story about the descendant of Alice Liddell. Partly, that’s what I got. A. G. Howard did an amazing job putting a new and morbid twist on the original Alice in Wonderland tale. The descriptions were vivid and horrifying, and I loved it. .
What I didn’t expect, nor want, though, was a love triangle. I really didn’t think this was that kind of book. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with books about love triangles (though I’m sick of them). I’m just saying that I didn’t want this particular story to be like that. I didn’t want to read about Alyssa’s conflicting feelings towards two different dudes. I wanted horror and adventure. Honestly, I don’t think there should have been any romance at all in this story, if not maybe just a little bit. It didn’t feel necessary and only took focus from the important and interesting stuff. Disappointment!
Even though the love triangle was a huge reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I could have, there were a couple of more things that lowered my opinion of it…
- Jeb. Oh mother of annoying male characters, what have you brought into this world? Okay, that was mean, but honestly, I barely remember when I last disliked a romantic interest this much. Yes, I’ll admit that he had his moments of dreaminess, but 99 % of the time I wanted him to get eaten by the bandersnatch. Basically the whole story, all he did was acting like Alyssa was a helpless little girl, incapable of handling anything at all, when the reality was quite different. He told her she couldn’t do things, got mad when she made a decision about her own life without his approval, and attacked anyone who tried to touch her. He completely suffocated her badass-ness! Plus, he took his evil girlfriend’s side all the time, even though she completely bullied Alyssa. God…
“No touching,” Jeb snarls.”
“No.” Jeb crosses my arms over my chest,”
(This is all he does.)
- In some scenes between Alyssa and Jeb (others too, but mostly them), there were so much cheese that I wanted to puke.
“Don’t break my heart.” Moth shadows glide above him in the mirrored ceiling, distracting me from the fierceness of his frown. “I’d cut mine out first.”
- Sometimes, I didn’t 100 % like the writing. It kind of felt like I was told facts, instead of a story. It wasn’t like that all the time, but often enough for me to notice it.
- I got tired of all the twists pretty quickly. It kind of looked like this:
– That’s it, I’ve told you everything.
-No no no, I was just messing with you before, THIS is what’s truly going on.
*More stuff happens and Alyssa starts getting pissed.*
-Just kidding! But I PROMISE this is the thruth!
Repeat….and then repeat again. Plot twists are fun, but when it comes to a point where you’ve almost stopped caring what’s real and what’s not anymore…well.
Wow, all this negativity really killed the mood in here. Fear not! Here comes the positive stuff :).
First of all, I really loved how this book started. These are the very first words on the very first page:
“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers.”
Now, this is what I’m talking about! More of this, please :).
What I liked about Splintered was exactly what you read above; the morbid parts. Because it truly was a very imaginative book with moments of brilliance. It was a clever story and I loved all the riddles and the songs. Alyssa was a very badass heroine, as long as Jeb was nowhere in sight, and I mostly enjoyed her narrative. It was nice following her on her journey, and she taught the reader to live in the moment, to believe in yourself, to not overanalyze everything, and that anything is possible.
My absolute favourite character, though, was Morpheus. Even though he was completely untrustworthy, he was the most interesting and fun character in the story. I liked his scenes the best and I totally rooted for him, despite of him being a potential villain.
But now, to sum it all up, Splintered was an okay book. The story had a lot of potential, but it didn’t reach all the way in my opinion. If the love triangle had been dropped, there would have been much more room for the awesomeness of the actual story, and I would have liked it a hell of a lot more.
I found out yesterday that they have released the cover of the second book in the series, which is called Unhinged, and gets released in January 2014. I think Splintered would have been fine as a stand-alone, but we’ll see if I perhaps read the next book despite my mixed feelings about this one. Anything can happen :)
“…they took your clothes to be burned.” “Burned? But…I don’t have anything else -” “Hush now, and be still.”
“An ocean red from bonds of love, and paint the roses’ hearts therof, applied with wisps of finest strand and quided by an artist’s hand.”
“Yet here I am, all of those things. Both light and dark at the same time. If I were to give in to one side of me, would that mean I’d have to give up the other? My heart aches at the possibility. Somehow I feel like I need both to be complete.”