Thursday, January 2, 2014

ARC Book Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet (Abrams)
Release Date:  Jan 7, 2014
Rating: 3/5

Cover Impressions: 
This isn't quite the masterpiece of a cover that Splintered was, but it is quite lovely all the same.  I am glad that we get to see Morpheus on the cover as YA so often concentrates on the female characters and I love continuation of the buggy touches.  I do wish the coloring was a little lighter so that I could see more of the details

The Gist:
We rejoin Alyssa as she attempts to put back together the pieces of her life shattered by her trip through the rabbit hole.  Her family is reunited, but tensions mount as her newly returned mother attempts to control her choices and her access to Jeb - the boy who saved her life but cannot remember his bravery.  As graduation and prom approaches, she finds it more and more difficult to maintain the wall between her world and the world of Wonderland.  Creatures begin to cross the barrier and Red becomes a threat not only to Wonderland, but to Alyssa's world as well. 


Unhinged is a decent addition to an interesting series.  I really enjoy Howard's take on the Alice story, it is fun and fantastical.  The world building is incredibly detailed and stays true to the sense of whimsy we know and love from wonderland.  That being said, it is considerably more dark than the world we are familiar with.  In particular,  the enemies in this book are much more nightmare inducing.  I could never quite picture the ferocity of the flowers in the previous book, but raggedy and demented toys, especially a clown doll bent on your destruction - hand me my blankie and nightlight.   I was a little disappointed that we never got to Wonderland.  My taste was somewhat satiated with the number of elements that seeped into the real world, but I still longed for the wild excitement and madness of the first book.

Unfortunately, from the first book to this, we didn't get much in the way of character development for the three main characters, but we do get to see some for Alyssa's mom.  This is accomplished through trips into mom's memory that provided and interesting glimpse into her story (possible prequel or novel??).  As for the main characters, the whole Jeb vs Morpheous triangle got old really fast and it was difficult to maintain sympathy for Alyssa as she consistently makes choices that will ruin her relationship.  She seems to have real feelings for both love interests, but the back and forth gets really hard to take.  There appear to be two very different characters: real world Alyssa and Wonderland Alyssa.  Real world Alyssa is often infuriating and slow to action, Wonderland Alyssa, on the other hand, is much more fun and I really enjoyed watching her grow into her powers. 

Had I not loved the ending so much, this book probably would have gotten a lower rating.  The plot twist was rather obvious and I was annoyed by the love triangle.  However, the ending is a perfect segue into the third book and made me very anxious for it's undermined release date.  I have high hopes that Alyssa's acceptance of both sides of her personality will make for a much more determined queen and all round more interesting character.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing, Talk of Sex
Violence: Fighting with Magic
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None


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