Release Date: 01/01/13
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.
My thoughts on the book:
Wow. Splintered is one of the best debuts I've read all year. It seriously blew me away. I was scared to read it because it had such a gorgeous cover, and I've heard such great things about it, so I had really high expectations. I was not disappointed. Howard is a fantastic addition to the talented ranks of YA authors. The world-building was amazing, the characters were all unique and well-developed, and the plot was insane (in a good way). I'd recommend this book to anyone, and I know I will re-read it a billion times. Splintered cannot be missed.
The thing that stood out the most in this book was the world-building. Howard did an outstanding job at painting the landscape of Wonderland. I felt like I was actually there. I could easily picture the craziness that constituted Wonderland, and the insanity that surrounded Alyssa's life before she went to Wonderland. Even though I have never (thankfully) had bugs or plants talk to me, I still felt like I could relate to Alyssa because Howard made things so easy to imagine. I haven't had a reading experience like that in a long time.
The characters were unbelievably well-developed and unique, especially the Wonderland characters. I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters, even though no one was what they seemed. Howard kept me guessing about everyone, even Alyssa. I trusted Alyssa as a narrator, but she didn't even know who or what she was... other than kick-ass. Okay, well she didn't realize she was kick-ass, but I did, She was a strong and independent lead. She wasn't bratty, emo, or selfish, even though she had a tough life. She grew even stronger over the course of the novel, too, which I liked. Jeb was a terrific love interest, and for once, I was on the side of the nice guy. Morpheus grew on me, but I still liked Jeb better. Jeb was also unique, and was a bit of a "rebel," but he was still sweet. Morpheus was extremely selfish for a good part of the book. However, both Jeb and Morpheus evolved throughout the course of the novel, too. You don't see the love interests growing in most books, so this was a pleasant surprise. The other secondary characters, from both Wonderland and the mortal realm, stood out, too. There were no filler characters in this book.
The plot itself was non-stop suspense, but not a whole lot of action. There was tons of adventure, but not many "fight scenes" or anything like that. It was still impossible to put this book down, and the pacing was perfect. While there was a bit of love triangle, there was no insta-love, and there never was really any choice. Basically one guy served as a temptation while the other was the one Alyssa actually wanted. However, things got a bit complicated, and I'm curious to see if this will be a standalone novel or part of a series. The ending tied things up nicely, but there is room for a sequel if Howard and Amulet so choose.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially if they loved Alice in Wonderland. The world Howard created is a bit darker than Carroll's, but I liked it more because of that. I don't know what else to say other than this book is amazing. Give it a try. You won't be sorry.
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