Review: Splintered

Project Fairy Tale

Review: Splintered Amazon | Goodreads



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.


Title:
Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Length: 371 pages
Source: Bought

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

My opinion:
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.

Other Reviews of Splintered: Writing from the Tub | More than Just Magic | Parajunkee

Find out more: Book Trailers | Pinterest Boards | A.G. Howard on Twitter

Review: Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll)

Project Fairy Tale

Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Amazon | Goodreads


Summary (from Goodreads.com)
In 1865, English author CHARLES LUTWIDGE DODGSON (1832-1898), aka Lewis Carroll, wrote a fantastical adventure story for the young daughters of a friend. The adventures of Alice-named for one of the little girls to whom the book was dedicated-who journeys down a rabbit hole and into a whimsical underworld realm instantly struck a chord with the British public, and then with readers around the world. In 1872, in reaction to the universal acclaim *Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland* received, Dodgson published this sequel.

Nothing is quite what it seems once Alice journeys through the looking-glass, and Dodgson’s wit is infectious as he explores concepts of mirror imagery, time running backward, and strategies of chess-all wrapped up in the exploits of a spirited young girl who parries with the Red Queen, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and other unlikely characters. In many ways, this sequel has had an even greater impact on today’s pop culture than the first book.

Title:
Through the Looking Glass
Author: Lewis Carroll
Length: 192 pages
Source: Bought

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★
Overall: ★★

My opinion:

I have to admit, I just didn’t enjoy this as much as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, despite the fact that it felt much more structured.  I debated whether to give this 2 stars (it was okay) or even 1 (I didn’t like it). I eventually settled on 2, but only just to be honest!

Some of the imagery and characters from the films don’t appear in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at all, but in Through the Looking Glass. Tweedledum & Tweedledee, the white queen and Humpty Dumpty all appear in Through the Looking Glass, but to be honest the book just didn’t resonate with me at all.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was, without a doubt, a bit crazy – it jumped around, it rambled and the whole thing was pretty barmy, with a very loose plot. But in Alice, that felt deliberate, fun and charming; a chance to enjoy the word play, to let go of plot and follow the rhythm.  Through the Looking Glass, with the stronger plot and more structured flow felt awkward and jolting in comparison – not dramatic or coherent enough to come across as a more traditional novel, but without the smooth whimsical feel of Alice.

In terms of characters, I didn’t hate them but a lot of them felt a bit bare. Why is the Red Queen no longer desperate to chop everyone’s heads off?  Is it a different Red Queen, or has the old Red Queen changed drastically in the years since Alice was in Wonderland?  Humpty Dumpty was quite fun, lots of word play in that chapter!

The Jabberwocky and Bandersnatch, such often mentioned symbols, appear in this book, rather than the first. However, neither are actually seen, only mentioned in the Jabberwocky poem. In fact, there’s rather a lot of poetry, which might be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view.

Alice’s progress across the chess board felt very fast, and this combined with the poetry made the whole book feel disjointed and fragmented in my opinion.  But, it was a quick and easy read that left my brain feeling refreshed (and also kind of desperate for something less weird).  I don’t think I would recommend it, but I also don’t resent it because it didn’t cost me much in either time or money!

Buy it? It’s currently free on kindle, but check out the comments since some versions are missing the poetry.
In a nutshell: Give it a go, but not great in my opinion.

Other Reviews of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: The Book Lover’s Boudoir | Jandy’s Reading Room | Jules’ Book reviews (Alice & Through The Looking Glass)

Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Project Fairy Tale

Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Amazon | Goodreads


Summary (from Goodreads.com)
‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”‘

So begins the tale of Alice, following a curious White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole and falling into Wonderland. A fantastical place, where nothing is quite as it seems: animals talk, nonsensical characters confuse, Mad Hatter’s throw tea parties and the Queen plays croquet. Alice’s attempts to find her way home become increasingly bizarre, infuriating and amazing in turn.

A beloved classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has continued to delight readers, young and old for over a century.

Title:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll
Length: 129 pages (for the version I had, though it varies a lot)
Source: Bought

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

My opinion:
Throughout February, The Cheap Reader is hosting Project Fairytale: a month long event dedicated to fairytales and their retellings.  Each blogger has to select one fairytale to read and review, as well as considering retellings.  I’ve chosen Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for my focus, which although not a traditional fairytale fits enough to count in my opinion!

According to the dictionary on my shelf, a fairytale is “a story about fairies or magic, an unbelievable story or explanation” and according to Merriam Webster’s website it is

a : a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (as fairies, wizards, and goblins) —called also fairy story
b : a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is definitely an unbelievable story involving fantastic forces!

Pretty much everyone is familiar with Alice in Wonderland, though I personally was much more familiar with the Disney version (which includes elements from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as Through the Looking Glass) than the original.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the original novel, since it seems to cause very mixed responses! I’ve spoken to a lot of people about it, and heard opinions from people who think it’s nothing but an average childrens’ story, people who think it’s full of commentary on self-identity as well as people who think it was written by a guy in a drug-fuelled haze.

On top of all the mixed opinions about the story I was nervous because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is, at the end of the day, a classic.  I confess, I was a tiny bit terrified I’d hate it, and then have to share that opinion on here only for everyone to tear me down for my lack of appreciation.  Thankfully, I didn’t hate it!

I found Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to be a quick and easy children’s story.  I didn’t honestly love it, but I can imagine that it would entertain children who may be less frustrated by the nonsensical!

I loved the imagery, the world-building and the novel characters.  The vast ways in which Wonderland differs from our own world was interesting and engrossing: from the breakdown of time to games with no rules, the scene-setting was probably my favourite part of this book.  However, the plot was a little frustrating, with periods where nothing seemed to happen, and periods that were chaotic and felt rushed.  I also felt it was undermined severely by the ending, which was a big disappointment in my opinion.

I enjoyed the word play, and the way the novel seems to read in the same way as a child’s consciousness – flitting from thought to thought, somehow ending up far from where you started!  The word play balanced out the lack of plot a little for me, though I think some of it would definitely go over a child’s head.  It took me next to no time to read, and I’m glad I read it even if I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped.

Buy it? It’s currently free on kindle, or £2.50 for paperback, either of which are worth it in my opinion.
In a nutshell: A classic that you should definitely give a go

Favourite quotes:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

Other Reviews of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: No Wasted Ink | A Myriad of Books | Brittany’s Books