Book Review: Splintered, by A. G. Howard
“A descendent of the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sixteen year old Alyssa Gardner fears she is mentally ill like her mother until she finds that Wonderland is real and, if she passes a series of tests to fix Alice’s mistakes, she may save her family from their curse.”
I am a sucker for anything Alice in Wonderland. I’m pretty sure it’s the most reinterpreted story ever, and I have no issues with that, constantly enjoying new takes on the subject through movies and books. So, when I came across A. G. Howard’s Splintered series, I was very excited, especially when I got into it and realized the book’s main character, Alyssa, is a descendent of Alice, changing the ‘Alice goes back‘ perspective that is the general norm (as I’ve found it to be).
I was also hugely grateful that the Mad Hatter does not play the love interest. While I understand this take in so many pieces, Splintered had me appreciative of the clever twist that allows other characters to have their day in the front rows. Please be warned: this story contains a love triangle net, so if you’re adverse to this, stay away.
Alyssa won me over from the start. The first line of the book is this:
“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten. It’s the only way I can stop their whispers.”
I just loved the macabre of it, especially when learning Alyssa’s an artist whose mixed medium paintings uses these collected bugs. Mosaics with spiders and grasshoppers? So great.
The writing was smart. Descriptions of places and events, the whys and intricacies of so many things naturally flowed so there was no wonderment about why so much description, or annoyance that there wasn’t enough. Details were clever and thought out, especially for those Wonderland buffs who grow giddy at the nerdy details. That was definitely me 🙂 Any fans of American McGee’s Mad Alice will love Howard‘s take on Wonderland.
The teen angst; being unsure of what’s seems so obvious to the onlooker, was well received. At times frustrating, I would remind myself that I didn’t know which way was up when I was sixteen. Emotional growth is an ongoing thing, and the signs are not easy to read when self-confidence is untrustworthy. Besides, these trivialities keep us frantically turning pages.
These characters were just all around likable. I was never sure whose team to jump on, constantly switching sides. Oddly enough, despite the huge picture of a pixie-petite blond on the cover of the book, I could never get Alyssa to be a cutsie-blond girl in my mind, but that’s really neither here nor there…
An ending that could bring tears rectified by more cleverness left me relieved, and heartbroken. Book two, Unhinged, was an instant purchase, and I ravaged my way through the entire series.