A. G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Emily @ Doodle's Book Blog
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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.
Everyone and their mother seems to have loved this book, so I was excited yet nervous to read it. I wanted so much to love it, but was afraid I wasn't. However, as it turns out, I needn't have worried. I absolutely was blown away by how much I loved this book. It was an amazing story with compelling characters, and an original, haunting story. It was certainly something I'd read again.
Alyssa thinks she's insane, just like her mother, until the day she realizes that maybe...she's not and there's just something different about her, something supernatural. Naturally, she wants to fix this, to be normal again. So, she does. I love her determination, and she's spunky as well. She's troubled by all the things that are wrong about her, but she's also very much a normal high schooler in some ways. She's just a typical girl who happens to be someone with the ability to talk to bugs and plants, and that's the best thing about her.
THE LOVE INTERESTS
I love, love, love Jeb. Like, more than anything ever. He's so loyal to Alyssa, and he'll stay with her no matter what. Do anything for her. That's clear from the beginning. I don't approve of all his choices, but in the end his heart was in the right place and that's really what matters. He really comes through in the end, too, in more ways than one, and I just have a lot of love for him. He never gives up, and he doesn't go into major denial either. He does at first, but when Alyssa needs him, he's there.
I love Morpheus as a character, but not as a love interest. He creeps me out. Though I'll be the first person to say that age is just a number, it's different with Morpheus. For one thing, he's creepy-ancient as opposed to just ancient. For another, he's a huge liar. I never trusted him at all and I think if he cared for anyone but himself he should have showed it. He's selfish and cruel, and I don't think Alyssa should be with someone as delusional and sick as him.
Splintered is more of a continuation, a hundred years later sort of thing of Alice in Wonderland as opposed to an actual retelling. I have actually read this original book for once, and I think Anita did a fantastic job of capturing the true spirit of Wonderland. This isn't the Wonderland from the fairytale, though.
From the very beginning, this story drew me in irrevocably. Alyssa herself was a fascinating narrator and she explained her history in such a way that it didn't get hopelessly boring. We get glimpses of her past that she herself can't fully put together, and though it's a tad predictable it's a forgivable predictableness.
There were some things that seemed random and overly coincidental, but I forgave them. This is Wonderland, after all, and I found that I just didn't mind that much.
The story followed the original in some ways, but it also produced twists I never expected and original plotlines of its own. I loved the way everything was portrayed, too.
It was almost a disappointment to return to the real world after reading this.
Alyssa and Jeb have chemistry from the
beginning, and I'm not just saying that. You can practically see the sparks flying when they interact, although originally they don't do anything about it. I love the rapport and trust built between them, and the way both of them will sacrifice for each other. It's an even relationship. I don't like Alyssa with Morpheus, which I've already said. It's just creepy and weir and I'm not going to go into that because it'll just disturb me.
Anita is a very talented writer, and her world-building is unparalleled. Her version of Wonderful is dark and haunting, but there's a strange sort of beauty in it too. The way she describes it makes me ache to be there. Her prose just flows off the page. I also love Alyssa's voice. It's unique and young but yet sometimes wide beyond her age. It's a very realistic characterization.
As far as I'm concerned, the ending was perfect. I don't want to get spoilery, but I loved it. There's so much that's been resolved for Alyssa now, and she knows who she is. At the same time, you can tell that it's not all over. However, I felt satisfied with the ending. Sometimes not knowing can be a good thing! I think it left just enough mystery open to be interesting. However, Alyssa does make a choice that actually doesn't make sense and would never have worked in the end, which bothered me. It was made too simple and the true consequences were ignored.
As much as I loved this book and kind of want a sequel, Splintered ended on such a perfect note that I'm afraid a sequel would mess that up! I'm actually really happy with this as a standalone although I'm definitely a huge fan of Anita's now and will definitely be keeping up with her future writing. I absolutely recommend this to everyone, especially those of you who love an original paranormal fantasy. It's a romance, but it's more than that too.
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