Wednesday 6 February 2013

Review: Splintered - A.G. Howard

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.

Visit A.G. Howard's website for more information.

What if Alice in Wonderland wasn't just a story? What if Alice was your ancestor and she really did fall down the rabbit hole? What if Alice's journey through Wonderland resulted in a curse being placed on your entire family, a curse that has followed down through the generations and caused your mother and your grandmother before her to lose their minds? What if it's your turn next? This is a truth that Alyssa didn't want to believe but one that she is starting to realise is very, very real. Now she is faced with a choice, if she can fix Alice's mistakes her family will be freed from the curse and her mother will be well again. But is Alyssa brave enough to face a Wonderland that is darker and far more frightening than the one that Lewis Carroll wrote about?

I have to admit that the first thing that drew me to Splintered was the cover, come on that really is a stunning cover and I just had to know more about the story. Then I read the synopsis and realised that it was a new take on Alice in Wonderland and I was sold, that was one of my favourite stories growing up and I can't even tell you how many times I've read the original book. This sounded like such a unique take on the story and I couldn't wait to get started. From the moment I picked up Splintered I was captivated, I loved the way A.G. Howard has created her own story around the tale of Alice in Wonderland, she managed to create something unique while at the same time staying true to the original. Her writing was beautifully descriptive and I'm not sure if it's just because I'd watched the Tim Burton movie a few days before starting this book but I found it incredibly easy to picture the dark and twisted version of Wonderland that she portrays.

For the first 40% of the book I was in love, if I'd had to give a rating at that point it would have been very close to 5 stars. I was enjoying the world so much that I wasn't feeling irritated by the characters but unfortunately that started to change the longer I kept reading. In fact by the time I got to 80% I was ready to give up on the story, the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that the beginning had been so good. I kept hoping that it would hook me back in but unfortunately it failed to happen. One thing I will say is that I'm very glad it was a stand alone story, if I'd made it to the end only do discover a cliffhanger ending I might have done something stupid to my kindle in frustration. It's hard to say exactly where things started to go wrong for me, I enjoyed the beginning before Alyssa went to Wonderland, it was interesting to see how the curse had affected her family and the way Alyssa dealt with that. I also liked the twist with Alyssa being able to hear plants and bugs talking to her, the way she killed the bugs and then used them to create artwork was incredibly creepy but had me fascinated in a bizarre kind of way. I also liked the beginning of her trip to Wonderland, the way the characters were so different to the originals but still recognisable was great and I found myself laughing a few times at the interactions she had with everyone.

One of the things that really bugged me was the love triangle, it's no secret that I'm not a fan of triangles - they have to be done incredibly well for me to believe in them and not want to strangle all 3 of the characters involved and unfortunately that wasn't the case here. I don't think it helped that there were so many things to dislike about both of the so called love interests. First you have Jeb who has been Alyssa's best friend for years and is her secret crush. Now Jeb just happens to be dating someone else and the girl that he is dating takes great pleasure in bullying Alyssa and making her life miserable. Does Jeb say anything to his girlfriend and ask her to stop it? No of course not, Jeb would rather accuse Alyssa of being difficult and tell her she needs to try harder to be nice to his bitch of a girlfriend. That didn't exactly make me think highly of him but it just got even worse when he starts acting so possessive over Alyssa. He is dating someone else for crying out loud - what right does he have to tell Alyssa what to do? The fact that they end up kissing when Alyssa isn't even sure if he has broken up with his girlfriend didn't impress me either, I really can't stand cheating in novels even if it is only a kiss! I just couldn't understand why Jeb constantly treats his best friend like a child and his behaviour really irritated me, if my best friend treated me like that I'd quickly start to consider them my enemy.

The other love interest is Morpheus and although he was obviously the bad boy I found myself more drawn to him than Jeb. I still didn't think he was someone that Alyssa should get involved in but at least he was upfront about the fact he couldn't be trusted. From the very beginning it wasn't hard to tell he was keeping secrets and that he had plans for Alyssa that weren't going to be in her best interests. I couldn't understand why she was so attracted to him though, I just didn't feel enough of a connection between them and found him far more creepy than sexy. I think my main problem with the story was that the plot seemed to really slow down towards the end of the book and I started to get bored, if the page length had been cut down then I'd probably have enjoyed it more. I tend to be a very tolerant reader and enjoy character driven stories as much as action based ones but in the case of Splintered the action seemed to stall without anything else taking its place.

Splintered wasn't the worst book I've ever read by a long shot but after such an amazing start I had high expectations for the rest of the book and I just don't think they were lived up to. I do seem to be in the minority when it comes to this one though because I've seen so many fantastic reviews for it. I would say if you're looking for a unique twist on Alice in Wonderland that is even darker than the original then it would be worth checking this one out. I will definitely keep an eye out for more from A.G. Howard in the future because she already has very a strong writing style and I think she has a lot of potential,especially considering this is her debut novel.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Kindle:


  1. I've heard great things about this book too, strange that you didn't like it all that much! I've wanted to read this, so I might agree with you, especially on the love triangle thing, Jeb sounds like a twit

  2. This one disappointed me as well - like you, I'm not a fan of love triangles, and I couldn't believe she could be stupid enough to fall for BOTH of them! A shame, as it was definitely an interesting idea.

  3. I'd heard so many good things about this book - it's a shame you didn't enjoy it. I'll probably still read it, though I am a little wary of books, especially standalones, with love triangles.

  4. Such a shame it all went downhill near the end. I'll probably try it, because I'll read pretty much any dark take on Alice in Wonderland. The love triangle doesn't seem my kind of thing either. Thanks for the review.

  5. @ Anya - a lot of people really love this one so don't let me put you off trying. I'm just so fed up with triangles now. I also think that because I had such high hopes for this book it was easy to end up feeling a bit disappointed.

    @ Jim Dean - I'm glad I wasn't the only one who felt like this, most of the reviews I've seen have been really positive! I really wish they'd stop putting triangles in practically every YA book!!

    @ Christin - like I said to Anya a lot of people have been really enjoying this so don't let me put you off. I think if I'd gone into it with lower expectations I'd have enjoyed it more than I did. I still loved her descriptive writing and her interesting take on Alice in Wonderland.

    @ Nina - I've not read many other takes on Alice in Wonderland, the only other one I can think of was Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (which I LOVED). Do you have any other recommendations? I'll be interested to see how you get on with this one, I hope you like it more than I did :o)



Related Posts with Thumbnails