Summary (from Goodreads.com)
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.
Author: A.G. Howard
Length: 371 pages
When I signed up to cover Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Project Fairytale, I knew Splintered would have to be on my list of books to read. A dark, twisted wonderland, much more Tim Burton than Disney, it sounded like a fantastic read, and I knew I couldn’t possibly pass it up! The book follows Alyssa Gardner, a girl who can hear bugs talking, and worries she’ll end up in an asylum like her mother. After discovering that she is actually a descendent of Alice Liddell, Alyssa sets off in search of Wonderland to find out the truth about Alice and her family’s madness.
The plot was fascinating, and I loved the beginning of the book, when we find out about Alyssa’s mother’s illness. The use of a mental illness could have quite easily gone wrong, but it was handled wonderfully, and the explanation later in the book was a great, original concept. More of a spin-off than a true retelling, there are references to the original Lewis Carroll story the whole way through. Slight twists and changes to characters such as the White Rabbit, the caterpillar, the walrus and the talking flowers means you can recognise the original characters without feeling bored.
Splintered is one of those books that seems to have taken over my RSS reader the last few months. Like Pushing the Limits & Crewel, it felt like I could barely turn around without seeing another glowing review for it! Whilst that sort of publicity and public appreciation is probably great for sales, and for getting a book noticed, I think it can do a lot of harm in the book blogging community. I know for me personally, when a book gets fantastic reviews, it never seems to quite live up to them in reality, because the expectations were just so high.
I think this is definitely true for Splintered, which seems to have opinions divided drastically based on how you personally feel about the romance, and particularly about Jeb. Some people absolutely loved him, others thought he was controlling and that the book would have improved if you cut him out completely! I quite liked him, but I just wasn’t a fan of the love triangle. Like so many other bloggers, I feel like YA has been taken over by love triangles and enough is enough! I can understand the logic behind the triangle in this, since Alyssa is torn between Wonderland and Reality, but I just wasn’t drawn to either of the love interests. Morpheus, who is somewhat creepy and hasn’t been around for years, just held no draw for me. Jeb seemed nice enough, and he seemed to be all Alyssa could think about. Her mixed feelings just felt a bit overdone, and I’d have loved to spend more time exploring the rest of Wonderland!
Despite my issues with the love-triangle, it didn’t dominate the story, and I really enjoyed this book. A.G. Howard’s imagery is beautiful (though obviously dark too), and the world really comes through in the writing style – it’s like you can literally see the locations in the book. The formatting of the book, as well as that stunning cover, just add to Howard’s powerful imagery, making you feel like you’ve picked up something really special before you even start. All in all, the characters were interesting enough, but the world-building is definitely the big seller for this book. This is a wonderful twist from the original tale, and a gripping read I couldn’t put down. I’ll definitely be looking for more from A.G. Howard in future!
Buy it? I’m happy I bought it personally – it’s the sort of book I could definitely re-read and lend out. Not to mention that it looks gorgeous!
In a nutshell: A gorgeous debut worth reading at least once.