Written by: A.G. Howard
Published by: Amulet Books
Release date: January 1st 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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.
I love retellings. …Well, I suppose I should clarify. I love the idea of retellings. Honestly, I haven’t read many (Cinder is the only one I can think of off the top of my head), but I have TONS on my TBR list because I just love the idea of re-imagining a classic story and putting a fresh, surprising, and unique spin on it. That being said, I took for-freaking-ever to finally read Splintered – despite the fact that I bought it in January – and I do not know why. I seriously should have read this sooner.
Splintered follows the adventures of Alyssa Gardner, the great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alyssa’s family is cursed – specifically, they pretty much all go mad because of their ‘hallucinations’ no one else can see. Alyssa, once she too starts hearing and seeing what her mother was institutionalized for, is afraid she’s going mad as well. But when she discovers proof to the contrary, she ends up following Alice’s footsteps to Wonderland, and discovers that it’s up to her to break the curse that has been plaguing her family for generations.
First off, once Splintered gets underway, it never lets up. The pacing is crazy good, making for an incredibly un-put-down-able read. One adventure jumps into the next into the next and the next… It’s a breathless ride through an incredibly realized Wonderland, and I loved every second of it.
Alyssa is a great character – strong, independent, and driven to help her family (especially her mother) get rid of the curse. Jeb, Alyssa’s crush and accidental-companion-to-Wonderland, is less awesome – at least to me. I thought he was okay at first – he’s sweet, and a super nice guy, but his attitude toward Alyssa got annoying fast. He really cares for her, but he was constantly trying to make decisions for her, or act like he knew best, all the time. I got the feeling he really had no faith in Alyssa’s capacity to make her own choices, despite saying things to the contrary. So that was annoying.
BUT WAIT. Honestly the best character in Splintered (and I know I’m not the first person to say this but bear with me) is Morpheus. Yes, he’s supremely attractive and mysterious, which is a huge plus. But he’s also just an intriguing character. I never knew whose side he was really on – Alyssa’s? His own? He certainly keeps secrets like nobody’s business. But I found myself totally not caring. I never doubted that he always kept Alyssa’s well-being in mind, without being as controlling as Jeb tried to be. He let Alyssa figure things out on her own and take care of herself, because he knew she could. And I loved that. Plus did I mention he’s supremely attractive and mysterious? Yeah. That too. ;)
My absolute favorite thing about Splintered, though, is Wonderland, and everything in it. It is seriously amazing. It’s dark and not at all like Carroll’s children’s story – and yet it is very much like Carroll’s world at the same time. It might be dark, but it is also vibrant and alive and a little bit addicting. At the end, all I wanted was for Alyssa to decide to stay in Wonderland for good. (And not just because I want her to end up with Morpheus instead of Jeb… well okay there was that.) She’s obviously connected to it, and despite the darker aspects, it ended up having an incredibly magical quality that I just… ugh. I loved it. So creepy-good.
GIVE ME MORE NOW. I loved every second of Splintered (minus Jeb’s annoying I-know-better-than-you attitude). It was paced perfectly – once things got underway, breathlessly – and Morpheus is a character I could read about for chapters on end. This first book is just not enough to satisfy my curiosity about this world. I want to go back, immediately. Unhinged‘s release in January 2014 is way too far away.