Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Title: Splintered (Splintered #1)
Author: A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 371
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Reviews for book 2, book 3, and book 3.5

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.

This was me throughout the entire book:

(I have never before felt the need to include GIFs in my reviews, but this is an exception.)

I don't even know where to start with this review - there were just so many amazing things! Let me start by saying A.G. Howard is a genius. A.Freaking.Genius. Though the first couple chapters dragged a little, once Alyssa went into the looking glass, I couldn't put this book down! Like, I legitimately got under my husband's skin by ignoring him for half a day over this book. Everything about Splintered is perfect. The writing is absolutely magical. The flow of language, the world building, the character development - everything was amazing. Splintered is written from the first person perspective - something that doesn't always work. But here, I can confidently say it was the right choice. There are twists and turns galore and I never knew exactly who to trust or what would happen next.

Wonderland - where do I even begin? The author paints a spectacular picture in words as she takes readers through a Wonderland completely different from the one we've come to know. The creatures are all fantastic in so many ways. For example, the White Rabbit... His name is actually Rabid White. The flowers aren't quite flowers and the Cheshire cat? You'll have to wait and see. But my favorite of all the Wonderland creatures is, of course, the hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Speaking of the caterpillar, his name is actually Morephus, and he's one of the two love interests in this story. I love him. LOVE him. Sure, he does a lot of things to serve his own interests, but he never really stops looking out for Alyssa. In fact, one of my favorite things about Morpheus is that he doesn't swoop in to save Alyssa every time she gets herself in trouble. Instead, he gives her the tools to save herself and lets her work it out - he lets her stand on her own. Morpheus is sexy in a dark and mysterious way (and he definitely knows it), but he's also loyal to a fault.

Which brings me to love interest number two: Jeb. While he seems to be an okay guy, Jeb just didn't do anything for me. It's not that his character was irritating, underdeveloped, or anything of that nature - he just wasn't my type. Unlike Morpheus, he does try to save Alyssa from everything - even before they get to Wonderland and sometimes from things she doesn't want to be saved from. The love triangle in this book is probably the best one I've ever read. Usually they annoy me, but this one just made sense - primarily because the two men were from two completely different worlds.

I loved that Alyssa wasn't overly whiney or dependent upon the men in the story. Of course, she did need saving from time to time, but what heroine doesn't? Overall, she held her own, made her own choices (even some I wanted to scream at her for), and was generally awesome. The one thing I didn't understand about Alyssa was why she was picked on for being a descendant of the "original" Alice. Granted, it has been quite a few years since I was in high school, but I don't think someone would have been picked on for being related to the inspiration for a famous children's book. In any case, Alyssa overcomes the bullies and remains a strong, vibrant protagonist.

The entire time I was reading, I was silently begging this book not to suck. I've been let down by so many YA books recently that I was honestly just waiting for something to go wrong - but it didn't. Splintered is such an amazing book. I will confidently call it my new favorite. Unhinged found its way onto my Kindle last night... Seriously, guys, you want to read this!