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Sunday, August 9, 2015

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Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard (Sophia Really Just Liked the Dark Twist)

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered #1
A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Reviewer: Sophia

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.

I loved Splintered, even though this is such a peculiar book.

As the descendant of Lewis Carroll's inspiration for Alices Adventures in Wonderland, Alyssa and all the females after Alice Liddell can hear the thoughts of plants and animals. In an attempt to stop the whispers, Alyssa collects bugs and plants and uses them for her art. She keeps it hidden from those around her, but deep down she knows that she'll eventually be in an asylum like her mother. To fix the madness running in her family, Alyssa has to journey down the rabbit hole Alice went and fix her mistakes.

Splintered is quite phenomenal – the writing is extremely vivid and doesn't stray too far from the original classic while the story is being set up. After the story is set up, Howard sends us down the rabbit hole with a dark and grotesque twist of the original classic. We have skeletal rabbits, carnivorous plants, a ghost from Alice's past that's out for vengeance, and other dark creatures that makes Wonderland a complete irony of its name.

But... but... there's a love triangle.
Jeb and Morpheus both have a history with Alyssa – Morpheus just has a past with her in dreams while Jeb has a history with her in flesh and blood. None of them are absolute strangers to Alyssa. They're both possessive and over-protective. They antagonize each other, have a few brawls here and there throughout the story. By the end, Alyssa chooses a side, but we might as well be back at square one when Howard brings us back to the dark makings of Wonderland again in the sequel. There is no way Jeb and Morpheus won't be at each other's throats again.

I like neither of them. I don't like Jeb, I don't like Morpheus. I don't care they're hot – I just don't like them. I feel indifferent towards them and it could go on either a good route or bad route. Enough said on this love triangle.

Simply put, I loved every aspect of Splintered and the dark adventure Howard takes us down the rabbit hole. I just don't like the candidates of this love triangle.

Methinks Tim Burton and other horror directors doth approve of this retelling.

4.5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.