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.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Amulet Books
Five Stars: An incredible adventure down the rabbit hole!
Alyssa shoves in her ear buds trying to block out the incessant background noise assaulting her ears. For her, though, the irritating noises she hears aren't the ordinary sounds that plague most of us. Alyssa hides the fact that she hears the voices of the bugs and the flowers. The very same voices that slowly drove her mother mad.....insane to the point that she is now locked up in an asylum. It seems that there is a curse on all the women of Alyssa's family. She is a direct descendant of Alice Liddell, the very same Alice who supposedly fell down the rabbit hole and inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Time is running out for Alyssa's mother. She is scheduled for shock treatments and Alyssa will lose her forever....unless....that perhaps the Alice story is true. In a desperate attempt to save her mother, Alyssa endeavors to plunge down that rabbit hole and rid her family from the Alice curse.
What I Liked:
- Splintered was a book that I initially passed over thinking that it was probably another stunning cover on a mediocre book, but I was wrong! This is an astonishing adventure with incredible and imaginative world building that totally swept me away! I am a fan of great world building, and I can honestly say that this book has some of the best world building I have encountered in a long while. Ms. Howard gives us Wonderland in a new dark way. Her vision of Wonderland borrows on Mr. Carroll's ideas and expands them to make it even more dangerous and interesting than ever before. In this tale, White Rabbit is White Rabid, a grotesque skeletal creature and many of the other players are present such as the Caterpillar now metamorphosed into a vibrant moth. In addition to the old favorites, there are plenty of new and interesting, fantastical creatures who will capture you imagination. I admit, I was never a big fan of the original Alice and Wonderland tale, but I absolutely devoured this modern retelling. So regardless if you are a fan of the original or not, I think you will enjoy this new spin on Alice and Wonderland as Alyssa races to find the truth behind her ancestor Alice's trip to Wonderland.
- I enjoyed the romance in this one as it features a long term friendship that has deep rooted, unspoken feelings of attraction. When it finally blooms into a full blown romance it is full of love, loyalty, friendship and more. It is believable and wonderful and everything you hope to see in a good, solid, well-developed romance.
- The plot of this story is imaginative and creative, as it borrows and builds upon the original themes of Alice and Wonderland. I loved how Alyssa follows in her ancestor Alice's footsteps as she enters into Wonderland and encounters all of the original characters and many new ones. This version of Wonderland, utilizes the rules of the Fey world, and one must never trust the Fey. I especially enjoyed the spin on the original Alice's fate. I also liked the metamorphosis of Caterpillar into Morpheus the Moth. Morpheus is beautiful, dark, dangerous and a total bad boy, and the reader is in a constant state of agitation trying to assess his true intent. He is really a bad boy, or is there something more? If you like alluring, sexy bad boys, you need to meet Morpheus.
- Without a doubt, this is definitely a book that I would love to see made into a movie. With the fantastical creatures, distinct landscapes and vivid, colorful fashions, it would certainly be fun to see it come alive on the big screen.
- Finally, this is a stand alone novel. That means no cliffhanger and a nice resolution at the end. Can I say how much I enjoy a novel that has a solid ending. However, I admit, I am a bit disappointed, too, as I would certainly love to plunge back into the world of Wonderland again. The door is slightly ajar, so who knows, perhaps there will be a sequel.
And The Not So Much:
- This one does have the dreaded love triangle, but never fear, this triangle didn't bother me as much since it never feels like it fully develops. Alyssa is caught between the mysterious, brooding Morpheus and her trusted best friend, Jeb. Her decision is clear from the onset as to where her heart belongs, but there are plenty of moments where there is doubt. In the end, it isn't an agonizing or ridiculous triangle.
- This book utilizes the dreaded mean girl theme in the beginning with the introduction of Taylor. She is everything that you hate in a mean girl, spoiled, cruel, and ridiculing. Yet, there are hints that she is the way she is because of something in her past that involves her father, but it is never revealed exactly what the difficulties are that make her the way she is. Luckily at the end, the mean girl gets what she deserves, and thankfully, her part in the story is small.
- In the beginning, Alyssa learns that the fey, or netherlings, as they are called, the ones who inhabit Wonderland, are in the human world disguised. It is never revealed whether Alyssa encounters any of these netherlings, aside from Morpheus, in her world and I was left wondering about this whole concept. I thought for sure that perhaps some of the staff at the asylum might be the fey in disguise, but alas, it isn't revealed.
- This is a personal preference, but the Chesire Cat was one of my favorite characters in the original story, so I was very disappointed to see that the cat only has a small part in this one. I was hoping for much more time with the curious, smiling feline.
Splintered is my first star rating of 2013 with its incredible, breathtaking and detailed world building. This book takes a well loved classic, modernizes it and breathes new life into the story. Jump down the rabbit hole into the dark and dangerous Wonderland, if you dare. This whirlwind adventure has plenty of action, intrigue and romance to keep you entertained. I am certain that this book will appeal to fans of the original Wonderland and generate many new fans as well. Definitely pick this one up! With this stunning debut, Ms. Howard establishes herself as an author to watch in the future!
"One who's naked shouldn't judge apparel," that familiar voice answers. "You well know that clothes do not the lady make."
"He's a contradiction: taut magic coiled to strike, gentleness at war with severity, a tongue as sharp as a whip's edge, yet skin so soft he could be swathed in clouds."
"No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest."
"It's okay that you have a little bad inside."
"Tearing down the rest of the world won't make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That's what fills the emptiness. It's the only thing that can."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.