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.
Okay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for well-done fairy-tale creepiness, and SPLINTERED certainly delivers. It's atmospheric, incredibly vivid, and full of whimsical madness. It's also full of courage, swoony times, and heart. Basically, if Lewis Carroll, Tim Burton, & Stephanie Perkins had a book baby, it would be SPLINTERED.
For me to fall head over heels for a book, I have to feel connected to the main character. I felt a strong connection to Alyssa from the very first page. She's damaged, haunted, and yet still hopeful. I can relate to that. I loved that she'd embraced her darker quirks even while she was terrified that they would land her in an asylum just like her mother. I also really loved that she was grounded with a close relationship with her father and two best friends living next door.
Now, let's talk about the romance. Spoiler alert: there's a love triangle. Sort of. I know some readers will look at Morpheus, Alyssa, and Jeb and see nothing but an obvious love triangle, but for me it was something different. I saw a girl torn between the boy she grew up with in dreams (and who is a master at manipulating her emotions!) and the boy who grew up next door. It made sense to me that Alyssa would take nearly the entire book to figure out how to stop being manipulated and how to demand respect for her opinions and choices from the boy in her dreams. I also kind of cringed at the boy-next-door dating Alyssa's arch enemy, but I felt the author did a good job of showing us right from the start that Taelor wasn't a typical mean girl, and that she and Alyssa had more in common that either of them wanted to admit. I loved the swoony moments, I enjoyed that Alyssa had the emotional dregs of her childhood love to contend with as a near-woman, and at one point near the end, I got teary-eyed.
The plot was fabulous. I absolutely loved this take on Lewis Carroll's book. This is an authentic nod to the original story (more than a nod, really) while still firmly being Ms. Howard's unique creation. Basically, she took the history of Alice in Wonderland and deepened it, explored what might have been, and gave life to what happened to Alice and her family after she'd gone down the rabbit hole. I never once thought to myself "that couldn't have happened" or "that doesn't make sense." I loved all the twists and turns, loved that the characters were all so deeply driven, and loved the ending.
Finally, the setting. Wow. Just ... wow. I love a creepy, twisted world, and that's exactly what I got. It's Wonderland and then some. Decadent, fascinating, and terribly dangerous, Howard's Wonderland had me glued to the page the entire time. Such a visual banquet! The author didn't pull any punches. So well done.
What Left Me Wanting More:
There are no perfect books, that's true, but this one was a perfect-for-me book. I so loved stepping out of my world and into this Wonderland for the duration of the story. Reading it was a treat.
SPLINTERED is a creepy, fascinating fairy tale full of beauty, terror, and heart. I highly recommend it.
A. G. Howard's debut brims with all of the kookiness of the original source material and adds in the creepiness of Tim Burton. Do not doubt, though, that Howard put her own spin on the story, because she very much did. She has not merely repeated Alice in Wonderland with an older heroine, sexy times and modern language; she has made something clearly her own out of Carroll's story. Reading this book, there is absolutely no doubt that Howard spent a lot of time reading Carroll's books, coming up with awesome ways to tweak and react to his books. This one is the real deal.
In fact, the world building is where Splintered really shines. Her vision strikes me as gloriously cinematic and true in essence to the original, though with a darker flair. Her changes were largely well-explained, and made the transition to an older heroine and audience completely smooth. Tim Burton could make one heck of a movie out of this, I have no doubt. Several scenes have a major creep-factor, most especially the one with the children's toys and how they're used in Wonderland. *shudders*
Howard's writing dovetailed with the story perfectly. I liked her style from the very beginning. She describes landscapes wonderfully, such that even a not-very-visual reader like myself had a pretty nice picture of Wonderland. I also credit Howard with being able to handle the nonsense, which requires a lot of skill.
At the beginning of Splintered, we meet Alyssa, who has evidently inherited the insanity that runs in the women of her family going back to Alice Liddell (the girl Alice in Wonderland was written for). She can hear bugs speak. To silence them, Alyssa kills them. Waste not, want not, so she makes art out of them. You guys should know that I freaking hate/am petrified of bugs, but her artwork sounds incredibly cool and I almost want to see it.
Artwork aside, though, I had a really difficult time connection to Alyssa...or any of the characters really. The biggest problem was the romance, a love triangle so obnoxious that I simply could not approve of any of the people involved in it. For a little background, though, we start out with Alyssa and her best friend, Jeb, who she has been in 'love' with for ages. He, for some reason, is dating Taelor, the mean, shallow, popular girl from school, who loves to make fun of Alyssa. Instead of doing the wise thing and getting over Jeb, because who wants a guy who would date someone who treats his best friend like dirt, Alyssa acts petty and jealous, and also commits theft. We're off to a great start.
As the story really gets going (and I will spare you concrete details), we meet the third party in this love triangle: Morpheus. My blogger friend KM warned me that I probably would loathe Morpheus, and she was right. Morpheus is manipulative and awful, completely sapping Alyssa of free will, because he is apparently made of catnip or something. Also, he's the kind of guy who wears leather pants, which is a surefire sign that he's not a nice guy. If that wasn't enough, he has blue hair and wings.
Actually, though, I liked Morpheus MORE than Jeb. See, Jeb has a girlfriend but continues to flirt with Alyssa. You know what's not cool at all? Cheating. Morpheus is undoubtedly more of a stereotypical bad guy, BUT he knows this about himself. Alyssa and Jeb regularly forget that Jeb even has a girlfriend, which I find utterly reprehensible.
Even worse, this love triangle indulges in the worst possible love triangle trope: true love. Throughout the book, Howard tries to maintain the sense that Alyssa loves both and is hopelessly attracted to both. I don't hate love triangles on principle, because, in real life, people don't always know who they want. However, I lose all respect for heroines or heroes who try to get away with cheating or leading people on by pretending that they have equal affection for both. Authors, if you try to make me believe that your heroine is in LURV with two guys at the same time, the end result will be me wanting to light all three of them on fire, especially when the heroine describes BOTH guys as angels during the course of the book.. Just saying.
Splintered could have benefited with a good bit less romance. I really don't feel romance was all that necessary, really. Despite that, Splintered proved quite enjoyable, and I'm very glad to have read it for its unique spin on Alice in Wonderland.
These are actually some of my favorite covers ever. They are dark, gritty, and again, the guys are very easy on the eyes.
Then when I started reading this book... my mind was just blown away. Usually when I pick a book for the cover it sucks. Sad but true. I've often found that books with ugly covers have amazing stories hidden within. This was so not the case! I was so very surprised by how good this debut novel was! It had lots of romance, action, creepy weird stuff, and it feels my love of the paranormal/supernatural quite well.
This novel follows young Alyssa, whose mother is mentally insane with a father who loves them both so much, but is pretty much at his wits end trying to get his wife back to normal. Alyssa starts to worry when she hears bugs talk to her but tries to push it away, not wanting to end up like her mother. The illness that has plagued her family since Alice told her story to Lewis Carroll.
On top of the crazy family stuff, she is losing her best friend, who she actually likes, to someone else. Jeb, he's going to move across the country with his girlfriend leaving Alyssa alone in Texas. Everything changes when she visits her mother and then the mirror...
It's a great book, it's even more amazing that this is seriously a debut! I've already purchased the other two and plan to preorder the companion very soon. Read this book, you will have an amazing time!
Alyssa was a strong enough character to carry the story, although I would have liked to see a little more character development. She seemed like a damaged little girl who was playing at being a rebel. At times, she was a little too trusting and took a bit too long to catch on to the obvious. I would have preferred if she had taken a more active role in success, but she seemed to simply stumble upon the answer, rather than work towards it. Her love interest, Jeb, was not my favorite person. He treated Alyssa like a child and was always running to her rescue (whether she needed/wanted it or not). I was pleased when he was conveniently removed from the storyline so that we could see Alyssa grow into her new place in Wonderland and meet her challenges on her own. I did, however, love Morpheous. He was very Mad Hatter-esque in that he had character and motivation. He was multidimensional in a way that most of the other characters were not and I kept wishing for him to pop up whenever the Alyssa/Jeb story started to get a little boring.
The plot of Splintered moved quickly as Alyssa was dragged from one challenge to the next. Morpehous' manipulations made for exciting situations and were the catalyst for an eventful race through Wonderland. Even though I did figure out the BIG plot twist earlier than Alyssa did, it still added a special element to the story and left me to re-examine earlier events in a new light.
Splintered is a very fun read. While it is violent and dark, it is not inappropriate for a teen audience and has enough romance to keep young girls interested. It is a definite must read for anyone who loved Alice in Wonderland or is a fan of whimsical stories with a little bite to them.
SPLINTERED is packed with mad adventure. The twists are unexpected and really interesting.
The beautiful writing style reminds me of Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series, so if you enjoyed WICKED LOVELY, I’d certainly recommend SPLINTERED. The breath-taking imagery and eccentric characters will appeal to Tim Burton fans.
I loved everything about SPLINTERED and highly recommend this deliciously creepy debut.
Splintered follows Alyssa Gardner, a descendant of Alice Liddell, who’s the original Alice in the Lewis Carroll story. Ever since Alice, though, the women in the family all turn out insane at one point or the other. Alyssa’s mother reveals that the insanity is a curse, and she has to travel to Wonderland to break it. With her friend and crush Jeb, Alyssa heads out to Wonderland to save her mother and herself.
Since I have a lot of thoughts about this book, let’s split up into the good and the bad.
The strongest point of this book is the setting. It’s a lot darker than the original Alice, more reminiscent of Tim Burton than Lewis Carroll, but it does feature a lot of the same characters and the same land, in essence. Wonderland is described in great detail, and as I’m someone who’s always loved the story, it really went down well with me. My favourite is the way the author shows that Carroll ‘warped’ Wonderland into something much tamer, and what Alyssa sees is far more terrifying than in the story. It’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into the concept of Wonderland in Splintered, which I sincerely applaud. Dark!Wonderland is all the rage since Tim Burton’s movie, and it’s great to see that some authors can really pull off the setting.
The plot in itself was engaging as well, although it did get a bit repetitive, and at one point I had to wonder, was she doing this for her mom, or was it an extension of the love triangle?
And then there’s Morpheus. I’m a sucker for intriguing mystical immortals, and Morpheus is a great example of that. He’s got all the characteristics of one too, you know, the brooding, mysterious one with the connection to her past, the one she’s drawn to despite everything? Yeah. He’s a regular Keenan, and I love me some Keenans.
The worst part about this book for me? Jeb, hands down. I get that he’s her best friend and that he likes to have control in his life because of his past, but his older-brother behaviour really got on my nerves. For majority of the journey through Wonderland, he’s telling Alyssa what she can and cannot do – really, Jeb? Is she the descendant of the original Alice, or are you, huh? Back off. What made it worse is that Alyssa didn’t stand up for herself either. When Jeb says, “Alyssa!!!! You could’ve been KILLED!!!!”, it somehow doesn’t occur to her to say, “Well, do you want us out alive or not?” If I’d been Alyssa, I would’ve punched him for the number of times he tried to dictate everything. Morpheus is really the only one who says Alyssa’s capable and that she shouldn’t be babied (thanks Morpheus, you rock). Also, the number of times Jeb says Morpheus can’t touch her? Um. Yeah, she can tell him herself. I might’ve cut this bit some slack if Alyssa had called Jeb out on his annoyingness, but NO.
And of course, there’s the love triangle. WHY. I’ve read far too many books with similar love triangles: the heroine, the best friend/one she’s known forever who’s super trustworthy and is wow-oh-so-wonderful, and the mysterious dude she’s drawn to who can show her her powers. It’s sort of a YA cliche, and in this situation, you’re either Nicki Beckett or Clary Fray. Not only is this trope just the sort of thing to get on my nerves, it feels like the triangle takes up way too much of the story.
I also feel like the memories Alyssa has of Morpheus, when he teaches her about Wonderland, aren’t exactly well-explained. There are several situations in the book where Alyssa knows what to do because of a memory, but we don’t get to read the memory. Instead there’s some random reference to Morpheus, implying that she knows because of a memory. I didn’t quite understand if the memories came in flashes at just the right time for her (which is how I saw it, and seemed sort of unrealistic to me) or came as a flood in the beginning. I get that revealing every memory bit à la Mara Dyer wouldn’t have made sense, but I still felt a bit off about it.
The other things that bothered me were pretty small, like the way Jen talks (she just talks so strangely. In the five lines she says, she sounds like the author tried to spew punkishness and cool-kid-talk – ‘fark’? Who says ‘fark’?) and a couple of typos I found. Typos don’t really bother me all that much, so just the fact that I noticed these enough to highlight them should tell you how engaged I was in the story…
I think I’ll wait till reviews convince me about the second book in the series.
Imagine, if you will, that Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton made a baby. That baby is Splintered. A.G. Howard managed to keep the magic of the story that Lewis Carroll first told children and mixed it in with the dark and zany qualities of Tim Burton's version.
Yet, despite the similarities to both Lewis Carroll's version and Tim Burton's version, A.G. Howard still manages to write an amazing story with her own imagination. I am normally a pretty fast reader, but this took my speed reading abilities to new heights. I had to know what was going to happen and when. So I had a really hard time putting the book down at any point.
The writing was absolutely gorgeous and if writing could be swoon-worthy, this writing would be.A.G. Howard managed to create a beautiful and mysterious Wonderland through her writing. The text was in purple which I thought was awesome, It still was readable but it brought in yet another magical element to the story. I cannot gush about the cover enough. I have a serious cover crush right now. The pictures absolutely do not do this book cover justice.
I loved that this book was so character driven. From Alyssa to her dad, to her mom and then of course to Jeb & Morpheus.Most of the people I've spoken to are Team Morpheus. I wish I could say definitively which team I am on but I can't. Because I love both Jeb and Morpheus. Jeb for his loyalty and devotion to Alyssa and Morpheus because he's quite funny despite being somewhat deceptive.
I just can't get over how much I loved this book. It was amazing and I need to read Unhinged, right now.I am so anxious to find out what the future holds for Alyssa and her family as well as Jeb & Morpheus.It should shock no one that I am giving this book 5 stars.
A companion novel to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Splintered uses the Alice story as background in order to tell a new story – and Howard manages to perform this feat without disrespecting the original text. Everything from Alice is present – the white rabbit, the mad hatter, the smiling cheshire cat – yet it’s tweaked in a way that makes sense, resulting in a darker and more twisted Wonderland for a slightly older audience.
Both beautiful and terrifying, Howard’s Wonderland oozed magic and intrigue, leaving me begging for more while the slight, yet clever, modifications to classic staples from the original Alice tale held me captive as I eagerly awaited the next character. Add in absolutely stunning descriptions of Wonderland’s many landscapes, brought to life with Howard’s lyrical prose, and I was completely and irrevocably hooked.
The characters in Splintered were fantastic – Alyssa was self-conscious, yet confident and immediately relatable because of it. Her courage and selflessness when it came to protecting her family was so endearing, and she handled the teasingly slow reveal of family secrets with much more patience and understanding then I would have been able to muster. Jeb was a little overbearing in his protectiveness, but it also showed how deeply he cared for Alyssa in spite of the obstacles keeping them apart. Considering his harsh upbringing and resulting angst, it also made his softer, vulnerable moments that much sweeter, especially considering he never resorted to douchery to get his point across.
And then there’s Morpheus: a mischievously deceptive netherling with a Cockney accent, he spent the entirety of Splintered breaking my heart with his betrayal, only to mend it whole with a whispered explanation that painted him in a less selfish light. It frustrated me that I couldn’t pin point his motives, but it made Howard’s sneaky twist ending that much more shocking.
I just can’t even begin to do Splintered justice. Easily one of the most imaginative reads of the year, Splintered has left an aching desire in my heart to get lost amongst its magical pages, transported into a Wonderland that both thrills and terrifies me. Surprisingly unique, Splintered is creative fantasy at its absolute best!
Alyssa Gardener is a strange girl. She can hear insects and flowers talking! Since this is not a normal situation she has to silence them right; so why no use them as…. ART PIECES?! I was immediately drawn to this. I LOVE art! Alyssa sees them as more than just bugs; she seems them as inspiration.
Things become even more intriguing when you find out she is related to the Alice that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is based off of, not to mention insanity supposedly runs in her family. Alyssa has found ways to deal with all this; she skateboards.
Alyssa is struggling with her attraction to Jeb, her mom being in a loony bin, and the voices that never seem to disappear.
Jebediah and her have known each other since sixth grade. I was drawn to their burning attraction for each other. It is so obvious that he is head over heels for her by how protective he is. I think it is kind of hot! I mean, having a guy fawn all over you… sign me right up!
I was devastated by the fact that Alyssa had to go without her mother.I could not imagine having to go each day to see my mom in a loony bin. She knows that her mom is not completely insane. She can hear the voices too. Alyssa just hates seeing her father suffer through it all. He has been through a lot the past couple of years. I definitely could not imagine seeing the person I love go through something like that. Alyssa knows she only has one choice to right the wrongs; she has to jump down the rabbit hole and follow in her great-great-great grandmothers footsteps.
But Alyssa is not alone on this crazy journey; Jeb jumps in after Alyssa and joins her on her quest to right the wrongs. I was so so happy with the vivid detail and structure this story had. I have to give A.G. Howard a huge round of applause! This book is so AMAZING! I literally sat there in a daze for about five minutes after I finished it. This book is a more-than-one-time read!
Wonderland is not what you read or watched as a child in this book. It is a place full of death, fear, and misfortune. This is a world where your darkest nightmares come true, and quite frankly I was extremely enthralled!
The characters, the scenes, the discoveries; they were all well thought out. I could not put this book down! I was so eager to continue on this magnificent journey with Alyssa and Jeb, but I was sad to see it all end. OMG and MORPHEUS! What a dream!
I could not stop picturing Brandon Lee from The Crow! Which is one of my favorite movies and a fantastic visual interpretation for Morpheus’ part!
I was not really sure how I felt about the whole love triangle. I was rooting for Jeb thoughout the whole story! Although having a love affair with a netherling character is very appealing, I felt that Morpheus did not care for Alyssa with the same intensity that Jeb did. Their first kiss was quite a revelation! And the burning attraction they have for one another was earth shattering.
Alyssa stumbles upon information that answers all her unknown secrets. I was quite shocked and pleased when this information surfaced! The book just keeps getting better and better, but all good things must come to an end. Alyssa must face her darkest desires or drown in her own denials.
The ending to this book is…. WOW! IDK how to put into words how perfectly everything fell into place. I just feel like I lost a really good friend. This book is a MUST read! A.G. Howard has just become an all time favorite of mine. GO GET THIS BOOK!
Do I Recommend?
Certainly. Take a trip down the rabbit hole to an Alice in Wonderland you will never forget!!! FYI Morpheus is hot!!!
Unfortunately, you have to judge a book by more than just its cover, right?
I was only mildly interested in this one. Yes, it was a great retelling of a classic with a new twist-- but that was about it for me. I wasn't really all that impressed with the characters. True, Alyssa wasn't your expected Alice. She actually had a firm control of her purpose; unlike Alice who seemed to bumble around having a grand ol' time in Wonderland. Of course, if you read Splintered, you'll realize Alice's grand adventures really mucked things up a bit.
Which brings me to what I did enjoy about Splintered: the minor characters. The Wunderland that Alyssa experiences is nothing like her ancestor's Wonderland. In fact, the creatures she encounters are down right nightmarish. The White Rabbit that was so cute with his ticking clock is described like some kind of freak-tastic jackalope with rotting flesh and a bad case of the mange. There were others as well that were represented in a brand new way. For that, I thought the story was top notch.
However, the main characters were just bleh for me. I really didn't connect with any of them, nor did I really like them. I guess I couldn't buy into the fairy tale aspect with some of the characters, which made the love triangle not very believable for me. Yes, I know this wasn't meant to be realistic in any way, but the characters just didn't do it for me. They felt flat and one-sided. Sorry. I'm sure many other people will disagree with me on this point.
I found myself reading just to see what new twist the classic characters would take on. I was not reading for the plot. Sure it had a few twists, but by the time that new aspect came about it seemed rushed. I didn't think a few pages was an adequate amount of time for a conclusion that had that much tension leading up to it. I found myself saying, "Oh. Well, alright"-- and moving on. Nothing thought provoking or astounding. Nothing remarkable.
If you're a fan of retellings, go for it. You'll probably enjoy something in Splintered. Would I buy a copy for my own keeping? Nope. I'd get this one from the library or a friend.