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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Splintered

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Splintered


Author: A. G. Howard
Pages: 384
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Krazy Book Lady's ARC Tour

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers."

Much as I love retellings, I have been burned, and badly, in the past. In fact, the latest gross disappointment was a purported retelling of Alice in Wonderland, which turned out to have nothing whatsoever to do with Alice in Wonderland. With this background, I embarked, somewhat skeptical but still hopeful. Splintered did not quite achieve what I dreamed it would, but it's a fun read that's not just pretending to be inspired by a classic to sell more copies.

A. G. Howard's debut brims with all of the kookiness of the original source material and adds in the creepiness of Tim Burton. Do not doubt, though, that Howard put her own spin on the story, because she very much did. She has not merely repeated Alice in Wonderland with an older heroine, sexy times and modern language; she has made something clearly her own out of Carroll's story. Reading this book, there is absolutely no doubt that Howard spent a lot of time reading Carroll's books, coming up with awesome ways to tweak and react to his books. This one is the real deal.

In fact, the world building is where Splintered really shines. Her vision strikes me as gloriously cinematic and true in essence to the original, though with a darker flair. Her changes were largely well-explained, and made the transition to an older heroine and audience completely smooth. Tim Burton could make one heck of a movie out of this, I have no doubt. Several scenes have a major creep-factor, most especially the one with the children's toys and how they're used in Wonderland. *shudders*

Howard's writing dovetailed with the story perfectly. I liked her style from the very beginning. She describes landscapes wonderfully, such that even a not-very-visual reader like myself had a pretty nice picture of Wonderland. I also credit Howard with being able to handle the nonsense, which requires a lot of skill.

At the beginning of Splintered, we meet Alyssa, who has evidently inherited the insanity that runs in the women of her family going back to Alice Liddell (the girl Alice in Wonderland was written for). She can hear bugs speak. To silence them, Alyssa kills them. Waste not, want not, so she makes art out of them. You guys should know that I freaking hate/am petrified of bugs, but her artwork sounds incredibly cool and I almost want to see it.

Artwork aside, though, I had a really difficult time connecting to Alyssa...or any of the characters really. The biggest problem was the romance, a love triangle so obnoxious that I simply could not approve of any of the people involved in it. For a little background, though, we start out with Alyssa and her best friend, Jeb, who she has been in 'love' with for ages. He, for some reason, is dating Taelor, the bitchy, shallow, popular girl from school, who loves to make fun of Alyssa. Instead of doing the wise thing and getting over Jeb, because who wants a guy who would date someone who treats his best friend like shit, Alyssa acts petty and jealous, and also commits theft. We're off to a great start.

As the story really gets going (and I will spare you concrete details), we meet the third party in this love triangle: Morpheus. My blogger friend KM warned me that I probably would loathe Morpheus, and she was right. Morpheus is manipulative and awful, completely sapping Alyssa of free will, because he is apparently made of catnip or something. Also, he's the kind of guy who wears leather pants, which is a surefire sign that he's an asshole. If that wasn't enough, he has blue hair and wings.

For some reason, I picture him as David Bowie.

Actually, though, I liked Morpheus MORE than Jeb. See, Jeb has a girlfriend but continues to flirt with Alyssa. You know what's not cool at all? Cheating. Morpheus is undoubtedly more of an asshole, BUT he knows this about himself. Alyssa and Jeb regularly forget that Jeb even has a girlfriend, which I find utterly reprehensible.

Even worse, this love triangle indulges in the worst possible love triangle trope: true love. Throughout the book, Howard tries to maintain the sense that Alyssa loves both and is hopelessly attracted to both. I don't hate love triangles on principle, because, in real life, people don't always know who they want. However, I lose all respect for heroines or heroes who try to get away with cheating or leading people on by pretending that they have equal affection for both. Authors, if you try to make me believe that your heroine is in LURV with two guys at the same time, the end result will be me wanting to light all three of them on fire, especially when the heroine describes BOTH guys as angels during the course of the book.. Just saying.

Splintered could have benefited from a good bit less romance; I really don't feel romance was all that necessary, really. Despite that, Splintered proved quite enjoyable, and I'm very glad to have read it for its unique spin on Alice in Wonderland.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "Frumious. Anything that inspires its own adjectives is a force to be feared."

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Blogger Maji Bookshelf said...

haha first off, i LOVE your GIF's that you put! Im glad that you enjoyed it overall, despite the too much romance :P Great review!
- Farah @ MajiBookshelf

November 8, 2012 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Hah, I was right! Lol I'm glad you still enjoyed it though. And I totally agree that the worldbuilding was the best part. I personally loved Morpheus, although I wouldn't have if the ending had been different. But then again, we never do agree much ;-)

November 8, 2012 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Thanks! They're such a weird collection, but they express what I need them to!

November 8, 2012 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You were...partly! Jeb was way worse than Morpheus. He was dating a girl he didn't like and wanted to cheat on her. ARGH.

November 8, 2012 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Daivid Bowie *swoon* in Labyrinth *dies*

Ok, not that THAT is over. I think I could really like this one. Though you're right and cheating is never cool. I love how creepy it sounds and sometimes when the creep factor is at the perfect notch, I can overlook my other issues with the story. Jeb sounds like a total douchnozzle though.

November 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Jenni, I think you would really appreciate the story in this one. You might like Morpheus, since you will now be picturing him as David Bowie the whole time. ;)

November 8, 2012 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

Interesting! This is now what I thought this book would be like at all! I think I'd love it.

November 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Haha, probably so, Nori!

November 8, 2012 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I'm so glad that I didn't read your review before reading the book. I would have been drooling all over the idea of Morpheus as the Goblin King. (Yes, I lurve me some David Bowie in Labyrinth.) Anywho, I see that it got 3/5. I'll be back to read your review all the way through once I get mine down. I don't want to inadvertently take anything. ;-)

November 8, 2012 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger roro said...

tnx 4 the review. i think the romance will not hurt me a lot lol. gr8 review

November 9, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, for those who are attracted to David Bowie, Morpheus will probably be a disappointment. O_O Oops.

That's what I do too. Good luck getting your review written!

November 9, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I tend to be pretty picky about my romance, but lots of people will probably like it.

November 9, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

So in short, it's a showdown between World Building and The Love Triangle, with The Characters supporting TLT? This is where I get indecisive because for good world-building I can overlook a lot of bad character traits....hmmmmm....

Great to hear that it wasn't another cheesefest dressed as a retelling though!

November 10, 2012 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Basically, at least if you have similar opinions on the dudes. I think it's worth reading, though, if you like retellings.

November 12, 2012 at 9:01 AM  

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