Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

A.G. Howard
Publication date: January 1st 2013
by Amulet Books

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.
*A copy was provided by ABRAMS for review purposes*

Splintered seems to be another instance where I appear as the black sheep. I've seen numerous positive reviews of the novel before I went into it, and came out feeling pretty disappointed. A book I even thought at first I would absolutely love, ended up being just a little too drawn out. I had little love for the characters, and the fascinating twists came a little too late to grab a higher rating.

I will say, the novel is not a complete let-down, especially for Alice in Wonderland fans. I, myself, have never been a junkie of classic fairy tales, but out of all, Alice remains one of my favorites. Thus, I was instantly taken by the plot in Splintered. It has great connections to the Alice story we've known for years, taking us into the lives of Alice's very own great-great-granddaughter--Alyssa. By 20%, I was fully enraptured in this tale by which time I had incredibly high hopes for, thinking it a for sure winner. Sadly, when the initial high of this exciting plot peaks, it quickly crashes into an adventure filled with so many detours and a tiresome love triangle. It made it hard for me to even finish it.

To draw a picture of this love triangle: we have Jeb, a jerk who Alyssa is head over heals in love with. The boy next door who inadvertently becomes Alyssa's sidekick in this twisted wonderland, Jeb is not likeable at all. Mostly, he's boring, and any personality he does have includes him being irritating in his behaviour towards Alyssa. Sure I've seen worse love interests, he's hardly even in my least favorite, but his character is simply not attractive in the least. His obvious denied love for Alyssa, and their "we love each other but we can't because (insert lame reason here)" relationship is exhausting. Then comes Morpheus, a Wonderland native who is also madly in love with Alyssa and trying to win her over. I actually did not mind him. Sure he's a wanker, but he's abruptly honest about his personality so you can't help but just accept that he is who he is. We're not "supposed" to like him, so, as usual, I loved to hate him. :D

Honestly, I don't abhor love triangles as much as most, but I need to understand why it exist, and in this case it felt too much like the romance was there just because. It took too much attention off of the plot, which is by far the best modern Alice story I've read. The middle section could have easily been cut in half. Alyssa is taken on so many runarounds without getting any answers that it takes a lot of patience to get through this book. I'm not known for my patience…

I will have to say, however, that at the end I was thoroughly satisfied with the way the story played out. Cut out the romance, the long winded deviations, a boring protagonist, and we have ourselves a 5-star! (…crickets…) In all honesty, the main plot is fantastic. The plays on the original Alice, and the way the author makes it her own with unique twists is worth the read for that alone! I loved how we get a completely new "no, this is what actually happened" story. It's brilliant! This leads me to recommend this novel to any Alice fan, regardless of my issues with the less endearing parts of this novel. Just, be patient.

3 Hot Espressos