Here's what Splintered is all about (from the book jacket):
ALYSSA GARDNER hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
But perhaps she's not mad. And perhaps Carroll's stories aren't as whimsical as they first seem.
To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush—the protective Jeb—with her, but once her journey begins, she's torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland.
But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be—not even Alyssa herself...
SETTING + WORLD BUILDING
I'm starting here because Splintered 's setting was the number one thing that really leaped off the page. What can I say besides WOW? Picture that gorgeous cover above, then toss in a heaping helping of creep factor and you've got A. G. Howard's spin on Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. Description is definitely one of the author's strong suits, as is gorgeous prose. As someone who isn't always the most visual of people, I did at times find it difficult to picture some of the things being described, but this is not in any way the fault of the author; I take full blame for that! Lush, colourful imagery completely transports you to Wonderland with Alyssa and Jeb and sets the stage for a wild ride.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Here's where Splintered deviates in a really, really unique way from Lewis Carroll's original tale. Without ruining the experience for you (because, trust me, it's a total trip), let's just say that Carroll's Alice recounts a very non-creepy, non-threatening version of the characters she meets in Wonderland in a way that her child's mind is able to process. (At least that's what this spin on the story suggests, anyway.) A. G. Howard presents this cast of characters in a way that is much the opposite of Alice's version and it's both fantastically sinister and sometimes terrifying. Think Pan's Labyrinth meets (and laughs in the face of) Disney's Alice In Wonderland. It's seriously awesome, folks.
Alyssa, as the protagonist of the story, was the perfect blend of vulnerable and tough, making it very easy to root for her. The 'descendent of Alice Liddell' thing was also very cool. Both of the love interests (yes, both) were suitably compelling in very different ways. Morpheus scores extra points for his face markings, wicked fashion sense, and unpredictability; Jeb for his labret, sheer likeability, and fierce loyalty.
THAT THING CALLED LOVE
So, here's the thing... This book has a love triangle. I'm not put off by such things, but I know there are those who are, so fair warning. Both potential pairings were swoonworthy in their own right, and after finishing the book I'm actually torn between the two. That said, I think I could have done with less touchy feely while one particular relationship was blossoming. It felt at times like there was too much tucking of faces into chests, cupping of those same faces, and just general touching for no good reason. Don't get me wrong, I love romance in the books I read, but I'm also a fan of not sprinkling this too liberally into the story. It makes what should be heart-stopping swoony moments feel less...swoony. Like it doesn't feel like enough of a payoff after the build up. Does that make sense? Leave us hanging a wee bit longer.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
I'm kind of ashamed to admit I'm not entirely certain I've read the source material for this story. I've seen Disney's version of it as well as that recent Tim Burton train wreck, so I'm definitely familiar with Alice, but I will concede that I might not be 100% up to snuff on Carroll's tale. I don't think this in any way detracts from the enjoyment of reading Splintered. If anything, I feel more inclined to pick up Alice's Adventures In Wonderland now. A. G. Howard's Splintered is non-stop adventure from the very moment we fall down the rabbit hole with Alyssa and Jeb. As someone who reads for escapism, I highly recommend this book to those who wish to visit worlds that are "curiouser and curiouser" than the one in which we live. I also highly recommend the perfect pairing of a giant pot of tea while you read it. Obviously.
And just because you really need to see it and join in the gushing, here's the AH-mazing cover for the sequel Unhinged. You're welcome.:
|Well, hello there, Morpheus.|