Monday, December 17, 2012

ARC Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Title: Splintered
Author:  A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams)
Release Date: Jan 1, 2013
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions:
The cover is breathtaking.  This is one of those covers that when it was revealed, I immediately added it to my TBR list.  The colors are gorgeous and the imagery is so interesting.  I love that the connection to Alice in Wonderland does not smack you in the face but is hinted at in the flowers and bugs entwined in her hair. 

The Gist:
Alyssa is a direct descendent of Alice Liddell, the real life Alice in Wonderland.  Every since Alice returned from that fateful trip into Wonderland, the women of her line have been cursed.  They are unable to block out the calls of insects and flowers and are haunted by a mysterious moth that inspires them to unspeakable acts.  With her mom in a psychiatric hospital and facing more and more dangerous treatments, Alyssa follows in her ancestor's footsteps in an attempt to set things right and free her family from this crippling curse. 


If you have been following my blog, you may remember that I am a sucker for books that either re-tell or are influenced by the classics.  Splintered first grabbed my attention with it's stunning color, then made it on to my OH MY GOD I WANT IT NOW! list, when I read the synopsis and discovered it was a continuation of the Alice in Wonderland story.  Splintered is very true to Carroll's whimsical style but with enough of a twist to stand on its own.  The characters are considerably more frightening and the story often dips into darkness which serves to create a more grown up Wonderland while reminding readers that there was real horror in some moments of the original (non-Disneyfied) version.

Alyssa was a strong enough character to carry the story, although I would have liked to see a little more character development.  She seemed like a damaged little girl who was playing at being a rebel.  At times, she was a little too trusting and took a bit too long to catch on to the obvious.  I would have preferred if she had taken a more active role in success, but she seemed to simply stumble upon the answer, rather than work towards it.  Her love interest, Jeb, was not my favorite person.  He treated Alyssa like a child and was always running to her rescue (whether she needed/wanted it or not).  I was pleased when he was conveniently removed from the storyline so that we could see Alyssa grow into her new place in Wonderland and meet her challenges on her own.  I did, however, love Morpheous.  He was very Mad Hatter-esque in that he had character and motivation.  He was multidimensional in a way that most of the other characters were not and I kept wishing for him to pop up whenever the Alyssa/Jeb story started to get a little boring.

The plot of Splintered moved quickly as Alyssa was dragged from one challenge to the next.  Morpehous' manipulations made for exciting situations and were the catalyst for an eventful race through Wonderland.  Even though I did figure out the BIG plot twist earlier than Alyssa did, it still added a special element to the story and left me to re-examine earlier events in a new light.

Splintered is a very fun read.  While it is violent and dark, it is not inappropriate for a teen audience and has enough romance to keep young girls interested.  It is a definite must read for anyone who loved Alice in Wonderland or is a fan of whimsical stories with a little bite to them. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: Kissing, Allusion to sex/rape
Violence: Swordplay,
Other Issues: Discussion of mental issues/images in a psychiatric hospital
Inappropriate Language: Ass
Substance Use/Abuse:  Underage drinking


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