Splintered by A.G. Howard
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
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.
Alice in Wonderland has always been a story that’s both enchanted me, yet scared me at the same time. I distinctly remember watching the movie as a kid, and being scared out of my wits at certain parts, yet so absorbed by others. It’s always been a tale of opposites for me, in the best way possible. I was hoping that Splintered might be able to capture some of the same feelings. Unfortunately, I did have opposite feelings with this book, but they certainly weren’t in a good way.
One of the things, however, that I did enjoy in Splintered was the retelling aspect itself. I’ve read some imposter Alice in Wonderland retellings (I’m looking at you, Alice in Zombieland), which I haven’t necessarily disliked, but they weren’t a true retelling of this chilling fairy tale. But Splintered really amped it up to the level of creepiness that the original story had. Dark and truly atmospheric, I really enjoyed the re-imagination of some parts of the story, but how, in the end, it really stayed true the concepts of the original. That’s how a true retelling really should be.
Also, I seriously enjoyed that ending. While I had plenty of issues with the beginning, and was getting ready to rate it down, the ending was probably the saving grace of this book. I just enjoyed how surprising the plot twists were, and how things tied up nicely. There’s a definite room for more, but it was still a good ending to the book. After experiencing cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger (*glares at Mark of Athena*), this was much appreciated.
However, I did have significant problems with this one. One of the main things was that I had so, so many issues connecting with the characters, and overall, with the book itself. The characters were just so hard to like, especially the secondary ones. There was just something about them and the decisions they made that grated on me, making reading this book feel like pulling teeth. Seriously, it got that bad at points. I was mainly only reading on for plot at some points, out of mild curiosity. This lack of a connection with basically everything made it hard to even enjoy the ending, which was actually good.
Also, this love triangle. Just, ugh. There are very few love triangles that I have every enjoyed (by few, I mean one). And this, this wasn’t one of them. The love triangle seemed like the same old thing. The girl has to choose out of two guys that represent the light/normal life, and the other representing dark/taking a chance. The good guy versus the bad. I really wished that there was something new about this love triangle, but honestly, it seemed cliché. It was grating and annoying, and this book would have done much better without it.
Overall, Splintered was both what I was hoping for, and not. It had the elements of Alice in Wonderland that I was craving, but at the same time, there was some essential flaws in the actual writing itself. I had issues with the characters and love triangle, along with some minor issues when things got solved way too easily. I’d recommend this one to those who are looking for a good retelling, but are more open to some cliché ideas. I may be picking up the next book only if my library will be getting it, and even then, it’s a big if.