Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review'd: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Book Review:
Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Published by Amulet books on January 1st, 2013

Goodreads Summary:
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.

DeLibrarie Review: 
Wow... just wow. I don't know if I've ever read something so insanely beautiful in every way. You should know that I love me some Alice in Wonderland. It's my favorite classic book, maybe even book, of all time. I just adore it... That being said... I knew I was going to like Splintered. I just didn't realize how much. I love how A.G. Howard took a story that is very much ingrained into my brain and gave me fresh ways to look at the characters, and story itself. In particular, I thought the reimagination of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum into the two morbid Tweed Sisters of the dead was brilliant. I also like how the Mad Hatter took a backseat to the Caterpillar. In so many spin-offs, the Mad Hatter is portrayed as almost a love interest to an older Alice and I was prepared for the same thing to happen in Splintered. I was pleasantly surprised when the Caterpillar it the "dark love interest" roll.

Overall, I really have nothing negative to say about this book. It is just amazing... pure work of imaginative genius.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The book description, for once, is perfect. This is a stunning debut, and it does capture the grotesque madness of a magical and much-loved world.

A. G. Howard puts her own delightful twist on the story behind the story, and begins her adventure with the mystery of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With this dash of originality, we are introduced to a contemporary fantasy, one that involves another tumble into the rabbit hole, this time with Alyssa Gardner and her good friend Jeb. There are the echoes of familiar characters, from the White Rabbit, to the Caterpillar and his hookah. We have the kings and the queens, and the remnants of Alice’s tears. There is even a splendid nod to the tea party and the Mad Hatter. Howard's rendition is not lacking in creativity, and features a sea of tears, giant spider-women, an octo-walrus and many, many other outrageous and wild things. It is exciting and mad, in exactly the way I expect all Wonderland retellings to be.

Without distracting from the splendour of the story, a romance builds between Alyssa and Jeb. While not without complications and teenage angst, it is a sweet and modern romance, filled with satisfying tension and emotion. Be warned, this is not a perfect romance between perfect people. It is dramatic, sometimes very much so, and if that is not something you can tolerate, or remotely enjoy reading about, tread carefully with Splintered. There is also – cue the groans – a light love triangle. I live to bitch about love triangles (really, I do) but, surprisingly, I was happy to accept (too strong a word?) the situation in this book because I knew I would get my way in the end. Let me put it this way. If you enjoyed Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo regardless of the love triangle, then I have no doubt you will be tolerant of the romantic plot in this book too. If it is any consolation, it does not take anything away from the magic of the overall story. If anything, it adds to it.

The main characters, Alyssa, Jeb and Morpheus, are all likeable, or at least, intriguing. Alyssa’s initial quirkiness sprouts from her ability to hear the whispers of insects and the flutter of wings. While her decisions are not always easy to appreciate, she is a delightful and brave protagonist and not difficult to warm to. Morpheus is seduction and mystery, expertly wrapped into a dark, enticing package. He is the other love interest, a constant enigma, and his role not quite as exasperating as you might imagine. Jeb, however, is my favourite. While he is evidently ruled by his emotions, and sometimes not in the most positive of ways, it is testament to Howard’s characterisation skills that he remains appealing throughout, despite the obvious flaws. Admittedly, his protectiveness over Alyssa is, at times, constricting and unrealistic, but not so much so that I failed to enjoy the story because of it.

I initially, perhaps too soon, rated this book 5 stars. Upon reflection, however, I realise it is not faultless and do have to admit that the ending is... not quite what I needed. Regardless, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed A.G. Howard’s debut novel and could not have hoped for a better renewal of a favourite classic. This is a book best suited to readers who do not tire of adventurous plots, and who are inclined to decent-sized portions of romance. And, of course, this is a book for those longing to hurdle head-first into the surreal madness of Wonderland.

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