February 9, 2013

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: 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.


Wow. I honestly don't know what to say about this book. I have no clue where to start or how to express how much I loved it. I apologize in advance for extreme gushing because I know it's going to happen but I can't help it. Splintered is a sort-of retelling of Alice in Wonderland only much darker. The main character, Alyssa Gardner, is a descendent of the Alice Liddell, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll's famous story. Because of her family's history, Alyssa is constantly the butt of Wonderland jokes at school - but things are so much worse than that. Every woman in her family since Alice has been cursed. They go mad - thinking that bugs and plants are talking to them and believing they can fly - and Alyssa's mother Alison is no different. She's been in a mental asylum since Alyssa was a little girl. She believes that the curse isn't real and her mom just has an illness - that is until Alyssa starts to hear the whispers of plants and bugs for herself. She realizes that the curse is real and the only way to save her mother, and herself, is to find the rabbit hole that Alice fell down so long ago and break the curse. Once Alyssa finds Wonderland, however, things are nothing like what she expected. Lewis Carroll's story had it so wrong - the creatures here are creepy and dark and the tests that Alyssa must face are no laughing matter. With help from her best friend Jeb and her mysterious childhood friend from her memories - Morpheus - Alyssa must get to the Red Queen's castle and unlock the portal so she can go back to her world and break the curse once and for all.

Fairytale re-tellings are really popular right now in YA literature, so I was figuring that this book was going to be a run of the mill retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a modern twist. I was so wrong. It is so much more than that. I think I have to break things down in order to keep my head straight.

Characters: Alyssa Gardner is the main character of the story. She's a totally awesome heroine - she's strong willed and brave. Not to mention she has a wicked fashion sense, works at a second-hand store, and makes art out of bugs, rocks, and other odd things. We witness a lot of character growth in her throughout the story as she must learn how to navigate Wonderland and pass the tests laid before her. She's witty, sarcastic, and has great intuition. Overall - she was a great female lead for the book and I loved her from the beginning. I was rooting for her the whole way and she didn't disappoint. Next, there's Jeb. He's Alyssa's next door neighbor and best friend since childhood. But, Alyssa has been crushing hard on him for as long as she can remember. She won't confess her feelings for him because she's afraid of bringing him into her family's baggage (the truth about her mom) and because he's currently dating a popular girl at school (who also just happens to be a super bitch). Jeb is SO sweet and caring - and completely devoted to Alyssa. He's always right there by her side to help her out or just listen. He ends up following her through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Along the way, we learn that Jeb has had feelings for Alyssa, but he didn't want to involve her in his family issues (his dad's abuse). He is a complete sweetheart and I LOVED him. The author also wrote him as a different character - he has longer black hair and a labret piercing. That was the first time I'd read about one of those in a book! It was a good thing though. He truly loves Alyssa and does whatever it takes to keep her safe. There's a part in the book where something happens concerning Jeb (I don't want any spoilers here!) and I literally screamed out NO! and had tears in my eyes. It was bad. But it turns out okay in the end - don't worry! Lastly, we have Morpheus. The bad boy who will seduce you and then break your heart. He has been with Alyssa in her dreams/memories since she was a really little girl. He has been teaching her things about Wonderland - preparing her for her journey there and what she will encounter. He's cocky, full of himself, sexy to a fault, and has his own agenda for Alyssa being in Wonderland. He's full of secrets all the time. It does seem that he truly cares for Alyssa and wants her to succeed in her quest, but he never shares all the information with her and is always trying to come between her and Jeb. In the end, Morpheus turns out to be a good guy beneath the bad boy exterior and it seems there may be hope for him yet. He sounds like an interesting looking guy - black wings, electric blue hair, black eyes, and a hot body. Yummy. If he wasn't such a jerk most of the time, I would've swooned more over him. 

Wonderland: This Wonderland is SO not the one that Lewis Carroll wrote about. The people and creatures here are creepy and weird - they are gruesome. It seems that Alice just adjusted them in her child's mind to resemble more acceptable and well known creatures. Although they are all so strange and creepy - they are very interesting. They each have their own story and personality, which made them seem so real and alive to me. That was the way that the author did the entire story, but Wonderland itself seemed so realistic that it was crazy. There were parts of the book when the scenery in Wonderland was being described - any of the scenes there actually - and I could literally close my eyes and vividly see what it looked like. That is the mark of a truly gifted writer. Wonderland was so beautifully described in vivid detail that I loved every second of it. Yeah, it was dark and twisted and weird, but it was also enchanting and beautiful in its own way. I can't say enough about it. Nothing I could say would do it justice. All I could keep thinking though was that the book should be turned into a movie, and the only person who could do it justice would be Tim Burton.

Overall: This book was outrageously amazing. By far one of the best books I have ever read - and that's definitely saying something. I have never come across a book that captured my imagination and my heart like this one did. The writing was superb. As I mentioned above, the author has this amazing ability to write the craziest scenes and make them believable - realistic. It was so vividly detailed and wonderfully described that I wanted to go there myself and stay. This book is pure magic. Everything comes together in such a way that it melds seamlessly into one captivating adventure. I seriously did not want this book to end. I'm really really REALLY hoping for a sequel (please?!?!). This is one of my new all time favorite books ever - and I haven't been able to say that about a book in a very long time. It's a purely enchanting, magical, beautiful novel. I have such powerful feelings about it that I'm almost getting choked up writing this. I honestly can't begin to do this book justice with this review. Just read it. NOW. Don't waste another minute. You won't regret it - I promise. And A.G. Howard? I love you for giving us this beautiful gift of literature. Thank you!



  1. Wow, amazing review. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. I'm so glad the writing is living up to all the hype.

  2. Thanks for the great review! I can't wait to read this one soon! Looks so good and unique!

  3. Great review, and this book looks amazing! I'm waiting for my copy to arrive from Amazon. :)