Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard { Book 1 in the Splintered Series}

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard

Series: Splintered book 1
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date of Publication: Jan. 1, 2013

Source: bought from Books A Million
Genre: YA, Paranormal, fairy tale retelling, 
Challenges: 2013 Debut Author Challenge

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

My Thoughts:

Okay, so I have always been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (like you didn't know who wrote it ).  I loved reading the stories, even the Disney version that was way watered down compared to the original one.   And I loved all the different movies based on the story line too; although I really did enjoy Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter the best. 

So when I seen this novel, I knew I had to have it in all its glory!  I mean, come on, the cover alone is enough to make you imagine all this creepy goodness happening in the book, but then it Howard goes even farther and makes it a sorta retelling and sorta sequel to the Alice books.  

Of course one of the reasons I think I loved Alice in Wonderland so much was because of the darkness that surrounds the story.  Tumbling down a rabbit hole, falling into a kingdom with some very psychotic beings running around, screaming "Off with their heads!"  There was so much symbolism in this tale that its hard not to read it without writing an essay on it.  
(I know its crazy but I love to write essays)

And after reading the synopsis for Splintered I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed for this retelling as well.  
Let me just say I am so freaking happy I picked this book up!!!  
Splintered is dark, comical, and very sexy.  Yes, it is YA but there is this underlying hint of reckless rebellion that surrounds Alyssa, Jeb, and most definitely Morpheus.  

The world building is so fantastic in this book.  I loved the art that Alyssa creates that is very much unconventional and in many ways a little strange.  There is strange loveliness that surrounds all the characters in Splintered which really adds to the whole sexy allure of the novel.  The moths are very special in this book and it is amazing that those same creatures that most people would describe them as ugly compared to dainty little butterflies; have really took center stage and become an important creature that has its own underlining beauty.  
Personally, I still don't like those huge moths to fly at my head, but since reading Splintered I definitely look at those little guys much differently now. 

I love how the world building transposes itself upon both worlds: human and Wonderland, to create this lovely and frightening place that has took the sanity out of Alyssa's world long ago.  

Besides the beauty of Wonderland, the characters are written very well.  The protagonist, Alyssa, is an eccentric teen who doesn't fall into the typical YA heroine stereotype.  She is a skater girl who can hear insects talk. She also has an uncanny ability to make her artwork come alive...even when its been dead for a little bit.   Alyssa is snarky, beautifully gothic and determined.  Alyssa was a fun character to read about because it still surprised me with the tests she had to go through and yet how easily she fell into place with Wonderland.

Jeb, who is Alyssa's crush and the boy who she grew up with, is also an interesting character.  But I felt he fell more into line with the typical YA male hero.  He has this troubled past, he is a bad boy with good intentions, and he is "friends" with our female heroine.  This didn't turn me off from the novel, though, I just didn't cozy up to Jeb.  How could I?  
Especially when I found myself falling straight in love with Morpheus.  
Oh dear me...Morpheus.  The name itself gives me chills without even having to think of the character it represents.  
And yes, I did imagine Johnny Depp the entire time I read Splintered and Morpheus entered my thoughts.  
Howard did an excellent job of writing Morpheus.  Is he the bad guy?  Or is he the misunderstood hero lost in a mixed up chaotic world?  I loved the fact that with Morpheus no one really knew what side he was on.  He is this mysterious stranger with much power that can take our breath away and keep us, the readers, on our toes throughout the entire story.  
And the lesser characters, like the different species in Wonderland, were written beautifully too.  And slightly scary too.  I wouldn't describe Splintered  as a horror story but it does have this macabre vibe to it.  Which really adds to the whole tingly feel of the novel.

The plot in Splintered is simply dark and thrilling.  There is romance, mystery, deceit; even a feral aspect to it.  Like the creatures in Wonderland are just waiting to turn on everyone around them because of the darkness that envelopes the area.  The best way to explain it is: structured chaos.    I actually love the fact that the plot is hard to break down into simple explanations.  The more chaotic it is, the more I enjoyed the story.  I always found there was a rhyme and reason that I just had to really search for and that in itself created the mystery surrounding the chaos of the Wonderland.  

I imagine my review is probably a little chaotic in its own right, but I can't help it.  I really fell in love with Splintered.  I felt like I was in a dream like state as I read the story and really hated when I had to come back to our reality.  Alyssa's reality is much more fun; even if it is downright terrifying at times.  
I had to give Splintered five hearts and I cannot wait till I can get my hands on Unhinged, book 2 in the Splintered Series.  If you check out the cover you will see my heartthrob is on the book.....Morpheus himself.  
Beautiful cover and I know I will fall right back down the hole with Morpheus...happily re entering the chaos.  

Links to buy:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |

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