Thursday, 14 March 2013

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard


The story on the pages of Splintered is every bit as colourful as the cover. Weirdness abounds in this fun tale, and considering its predecessor, this is exactly as it should be. To be clear, Splintered is not technically a retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, rather it’s a darker and more macabre revisiting of Lewis Carroll’s world.  A.G. Howard manages to capture the wacky essence of Wonderland while putting her own twist on the setting and characters.

Alyssa Gardner, the protagonist of Splintered, has the ability to hear insect and plant voices. This is a red flag that, like her mother, she has inherited the mental illness that plagues the female descendants of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s main character. Naturally, Alyssa discovers that Wonderland is a real place and that this legacy of madness is inexplicably tied to it. In an adventure that incorporates strange childhood dreams, storybook relics, and many bizarre characters, Alyssa attempts to set things right in Wonderland and by doing so save her mother (and herself) from the grip of insanity. She finds herself embroiled in the dangerous political games of Wonderland where very little makes sense, and it seems that everyone she meets is spinning lies or using her for their own devices.

Though the story is largely based on fantasy, I found Alyssa’s struggles to be believable, especially her worries over succumbing to mental illness like her mother.  She made mistakes but learned from them, and I felt like she genuinely cared for the people in her life, demonstrated by the way she risked her own safety to help those she loves. As much as Alyssa’s journey through Wonderland was about saving her mother, even more so it was about gaining confidence in herself and discovering her own identity. She also had to piece together her past in order to figure out her future. There’s a bit of mystery in this aspect of the story, which I found intriguing.

I also enjoyed Alyssa’s relationship with Jeb, the skateboarding artist next door who has been her best friend and crush for years. Jeb unwittingly gets sucked into Alyssa’s adventures in Wonderland, and the issues in their “friendship” gradually and sometimes uncomfortably unfold during their perilous quest.

The other major player in the story is Morpheus, but I really can’t give many details about him without spoiling. I’ll only say that he’s a very creative spin on one of Lewis Carroll’s original characters and that he’s also partly based on Brandon Lee’s character in The Crow.  While Morpheus was very unusual and entertaining, I have to admit I was rooting for Jeb in terms of the love triangle. After reading some other reviews, I seem to be in the minority on this one. Alas, I cannot make my case without giving specifics from the book.

To sum up, Splintered is one of those stories where you really have no idea what’s coming next, because it’s so off the wall. In that regard, it's much like the original which I actually read not all that long ago with my son (and yes, we had our own Mad Hatter tea party). The picture to the right is my lovely copy. Splintered has romance, adventure, creepiness, crazy characters, and a brilliant setting.  And as an added bonus, it may have the prettiest cover of any book released this year. Originally, Splintered wasn’t on my Debut Author Challenge list, but the cover and some great reviews made me “curiouser and curiouser” until I just had to check it out. I’m glad I did.

15 comments:

  1. As you know, this one is sitting on my shelf right now. Like you, I was drawn in by the colourful cover and by some great reviews. It wasn't on my DAC list either, but I'll be adding it. Speaking of my DAC list, I'm really kind of failing at getting to the ones I said I would read. Guess I should get reading, right? Great review, Erin! :)

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    1. While I was reading it I hoped it would be good because I knew you had recently bought a copy of it. After a few chapters I was pretty sure you'd think it was money well spent. I haven't done too badly on my DAC list, although I've only actually reviewed a few. I think you'll probably enjoy this one too. :)

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  2. That cover really is awesome, isn't it? I have this one on my DAC list--but until today, in fact, I hadn't cracked a single book for the challenge. (But OMG, the one I'm reading is so good...) I have a hunch that I may be on your side in this love triangle, when I finally get around to Splintered--thanks for the spoiler-free review! Looking forward to this one.

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    1. In hindsight, I'm really not sure why this one wasn't on my DAC list to begin with. After reading it, I'm kind of wondering what I was thinking. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I'm eager to hear what you think of it and to seeing whether you side with Jeb or Morpheus. (Jeb says, "Pick me! Pick me!")

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  3. I do enjoy a retelling, especially a fairy tale retelling, and I've heard some really positive things about this one. Love the cover, love that the plot is unexpected, love that there's ROMANCE! Thanks for the recommendation, Erin. I'll definitely check this one out.

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    1. Even though it's based on another story, SPLINTERED is definitely unique. And the romance was one of the best parts in my opinion. Hope you enjoy it! :)

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  4. Wow this sounds like a really interesting one. I like unique takes like this. Might have to track it down!

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    1. It's interesting in a really bizarre and wacky way, much like the original tale, but with the added theme of mental illness. So if you liked ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND but want something a tad darker and geared toward the teen audience, then you might enjoy this too.

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  5. I've been torn on reading this one... I've read lots of great reviews, but I (*gasp*) never really liked 'Alice in Wonderland'. It was a little too off the wall for me.

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    1. Hmm, hard to say whether you'd like this one or not then because it's as off the wall as the original, only with a darker edge to it. I enjoyed the addition of romance and the darker feel, but it definitely maintains the wackiness of Lewis Carroll's story.

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  6. I have this one on my shelf to read - I think I'll give it a go when I finish my current read! Thanks for the great review - I'm curious about Jeb and Morpheus now!s

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    1. If you're in the mood for something different, then this is definitely a good one to read next. Hope you enjoy it!

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  7. I liked this book as well! Seriously loving your blog! :)

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    1. It was definitely a fun read. Glad you're enjoying my blog. I appreciate the compliment!

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  8. Have this one out from the library. Hoping to get to it soon! Sounds so good and that cover? Oh.my.word. Gorgeous!

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