Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

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A.G. Howard
Publication date: January 1st 2013
by Amulet Books


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.

*A copy was provided by ABRAMS for review purposes*

Splintered seems to be another instance where I appear as the black sheep. I’ve seen numerous positive reviews of the novel before I went into it, and came out feeling pretty disappointed. A book I even thought at first I would absolutely love, ended up being just a little too drawn out. I had little love for the characters, and the fascinating twists came a little too late to grab a higher rating.

I will say, the novel is not a complete let-down, especially for Alice in Wonderland fans. I, myself, have never been a junkie of classic fairy tales, but out of all, Alice remains one of my favorites. Thus, I was instantly taken by the plot in Splintered. It has great connections to the Alice story we’ve known for years, taking us into the lives of Alice’s very own great-great-granddaughter–Alyssa. By 20%, I was fully enraptured in this tale by which time I had incredibly high hopes for, thinking it a for sure winner. Sadly, when the initial high of this exciting plot peaks, it quickly crashes into an adventure filled with so many detours and a tiresome love triangle. It made it hard for me to even finish it.

To draw a picture of this love triangle: we have Jeb, a jerk who Alyssa is head over heals in love with. The boy next door who inadvertently becomes Alyssa’s sidekick in this twisted wonderland, Jeb is not likeable at all. Mostly, he’s boring, and any personality he does have includes him being irritating in his behaviour towards Alyssa. Sure I’ve seen worse love interests, he’s hardly even in my least favorite, but his character is simply not attractive in the least. His obvious denied love for Alyssa, and their “we love each other but we can’t because (insert lame reason here)” relationship is exhausting. Then comes Morpheus, a Wonderland native who is also madly in love with Alyssa and trying to win her over. I actually did not mind him. Sure he’s a wanker, but he’s abruptly honest about his personality so you can’t help but just accept that he is who he is. We’re not “supposed” to like him, so, as usual, I loved to hate him. 😀

Honestly, I don’t abhor love triangles as much as most, but I need to understand why it exist, and in this case it felt too much like the romance was there just because. It took too much attention off of the plot, which is by far the best modern Alice story I’ve read. The middle section could have easily been cut in half. Alyssa is taken on so many runarounds without getting any answers that it takes a lot of patience to get through this book. I’m not known for my patience…

I will have to say, however, that at the end I was thoroughly satisfied with the way the story played out. Cut out the romance, the long winded deviations, a boring protagonist, and we have ourselves a 5-star! (…crickets…) In all honesty, the main plot is fantastic. The plays on the original Alice, and the way the author makes it her own with unique twists is worth the read for that alone! I loved how we get a completely new “no, this is what actually happened” story. It’s brilliant! This leads me to recommend this novel to any Alice fan, regardless of my issues with the less endearing parts of this novel. Just, be patient.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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27 Responses to “Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Really? Just three cups? *sadness* I’ve heard some rave reviews about this one and I can’t wait to read it but I’m not thrilled about the romantic aspect. Love triangles have been overused, overplayed and are tired–a YA cliche. They truly annoy me because they seem to be added merely to add tension and conflict in the easiest way possible. /rant

  2. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    See, it fascinates me how people get such different vibes from books. YES to the “this is what really happened,” aspect. That was brilliant! Just brilliant.

    I actually loved Jed, and warmed to Morpheus. (I viewed him sort of like Once Upon a Time’s Mad Hatter, so…love, love, love.) I’m a fan of a GOOD, well done love triangle that furthers the story and the MC, and in this case, I think that being caught between Jed and Morpheus DID that for Alyssa. I liked that she grew a lot during this novel.

    I do agree that a few parts could have been cut out. I could see Splintered losing…oh, 50 pages or so without suffering. It’s too bad you didn’t love this one, Giselle, but I’m really, really glad you did read it! 🙂

  3. Amy

    I am a big Alice fan so I am hoping I will enjoy this, but a love triangle?!!! I don’t hate them if there is a reason for them, but if there’s not I can’t stand them. Also that it seems really drawn out might start to bore me. It’s coming up on my reading list. I’m hoping I will like it, but all the things that you mention that bothered you are all things that bother me in a book too.

  4. Joie

    noooooo I hate love triangles like that! This book sounded really cool though so I’ll try and keep an open mind when I read it.
    But goshDARNit would it kill authors to be a bit more creative with their love interests?

  5. Steph (Poetry to Prose)

    Boo, it does sound like there was something interesting going on with this one, so it’s disappointing to hear that the author chose to focus on a lame love triangle instead. I can’t say I was too interested in this one — I’m not much of an Alice fan, really — but I’m even less so now. Thanks for the honest review!

  6. Nick

    I’ve been dying to read this book for some time now, but after reading your review I have a very strong feeling that I’m not going to enjoy it. I absolutely despise love triangles and I’m really upset to hear that this one has one. It’s really too bad that the romance overtakes the plot.
    Thank you for the honest review, Giselle! I’ll probably just borrow the book from a library or something.

  7. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I loved the twist when you described it to me, I like that the author took it in a completely different direction I just wish getting there wasn’t so painful. I made it to 43% with this one and couldn’t bring myself to go any farther. Happy you powered through so I got to know how it ends though! 😀

  8. Melliane

    I think it’s always difficult when we read a lot of great reviews before starting one. We can be easily disappointed. I was curious about this one because, well, I just love the cover. But I think I’ll pass for now, maybe in a few months…

  9. Mel@Thedailyprophecy.

    I’m a huge fan of fairytales and retellings: Alice in Wonderland is a great story and I love the cover. I’m very excited for this book, even when it let you down. I don’t really like love-triangles, but I can live with them. Jeb sounds not so good, but I can’t wait to meet Morpheus! I neeeeeeed this book.

    Nice review Giselle 🙂

  10. Kat Balcombe

    Isn’t it fun to love to hate a character?

    I’m so on the fence about this one, love triangles are just *bleugh*. Great review, you’ve really balanced out all the positives and negatives in a way that still has me intrigued…

  11. Shooting Stars Mag

    I’ve been hearing a mix of things about this one. I haven’t actually read the original Alice in Wonderland, but I’m still curious about the concept. Sounds like a good library read, if anything.

  12. Christina


    (I’m a black sheep too. Get it? Regular sheep say BAAAA; black sheep say BAHAHA)

    Yes, I love that you straight up called Jeb a jerk. He is the WORST. Just fyi, you keep calling her Alice instead of Alyssa. :-p

    Bahaha, you’re right on target on how I felt about the love triangle and the dudes.

    Someone suggested maybe she had to add the romance in, which seems like a possibility since it feels so awkward and out of place. If it had just been about wonderland, then AWESOME.

  13. Camille Picott

    Aw, I just read a Goodreads review of this one over the weekend and I was super excited to check it out. But I HATE angsty teen love triangles that exist for no good reason. 🙁 Okay, I’ll have to think about this one now . . . On a side note, the cover is fantastic!

  14. A Canadian Girl

    Aw, it’s too bad you didn’t enjoy this one more, Giselle. I’d seen a lot of positive reviews for it and because of the Wonderland aspect, I was excited about reading it. I’m going to lower my expectations a bit now.

  15. Candace

    I’m sorry this one wasn’t amazing for you but I’m slightly relieved. I wanted it mostly for that cover cause I haven’t read many reviews on it yet. The issues you pointed out sound like ones I might have as well. So now that I know it might not be amazing I’m not so anxious to spend my hard earned money on it. I will hold off and see what a few more people say about it. Or I will watch for it at the library.

  16. Jesse Burgoyne

    Honestly, all Alice in Wonderland retellings have been ruined for me ever since I watched the SyFy miniseries Alice. It’s by far my favorite Alice story ever. But I had high hopes for this one. I’m still very excited for this one though. I’ll be sure to check it out! Great review 🙂

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  17. Millie

    How did I miss this review??
    Anyway, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as others. I seriously have heard nothing but raving positive reviews on this. However, it’s good to see a more critical review of this book. And sometimes I don’t mind love triangles, but lately,I’ve been hating them. They just–ughh. Sometimes I feel like the plot can do so much better off without the third point of the triangle, ya know? Anyway, super great reveiw! 😀

    Millie @ Millie D’s Words

  18. Kara_Malinczak

    Yeah, I agree completely with this review. Our reviews are pretty much exactly the same but worded differently. I loved the plot of this book. I don’t think it needed a romance at all. The world-building was fantastic. So were the family issues. But because it focused more on the romance in the second half (WTF was that?), I was VERY disappointed. Great review, Giselle.