Author: A. G. Howard
Buy This Book: Book Depository
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.
I have to start by commenting on what a beautiful book this is, not only is the cover to die for but I loved that the text is purple and not standard black. The intricate pattern at the start of each chapter was something else I found really beautiful about the book. So the book is definitely aesthetically pleasing and won lots of points for Gryffindor for that.
When it comes to Splintered, I feel like that guy. I have seen this on so many blogs, had it recommended to me so many times, and seen so many 5 star reviews that I was sure I was going to absolutely love this. But I didn't. *Ducks to avoid being hit*. I am sorry blogosphere, I really am, but this just wasn't for me. It did make me realise a lot about myself as a reader though and I came to understand why I couldn't love this as much as everyone else did.
First I need to stress that this is in no way a bad book. It is ridiculously well written, has a great story and offers a really brilliant, unique twist to the Alice in Wonderland story. But, I personally struggled with it and couldn't get swept up in the story as much as everyone else did.
I was put off from the very first lines, and later was completely confused by it:
"I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick."Now I immediately found the main character rather crazy and strange. Especially when I found out she then uses the bodies of the bugs she kills to make art. Weird! But then the book went on to completely contradict itself, which always drives me crazy. The character later tells us that she has two eels for pets, because a cat or a dog didn't work because hearing a bug scream as it gets eaten by them was too much for her. But she has no issue with killing hundreds of them herself to make art. Find me the sense in that and you shall have twenty points for your house.
Alyssa Gardener is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the child who inspired the Alice in Wonderland story. But since Alice, the women in the Liddell family have all ended up mentally ill, with Alyssa's own mother in an asylum. Alyssa herself can hear bugs and plants talking, and knows she may end up just like her mother. But one day she realises that her mother isn't crazy, that Wonderland really does exist. If Alyssa is to break the curse on her family, she will have to dive into the rabbit hole and undo the mistakes her great-great-great-grandmother made all those years ago.
I did learn something about myself as a reader. I am not a fan of crazy. I really, really enjoyed the book at the beginning, but unlike so many others, my problems really begun when Allysa got to Wonderland. It was all a little too dark and crazy for me. The octobenus, which no matter how many times I came across it I still read it as octopenis, was the first thing that got me and it just went from there. An octobenus is basically what would happen if you crossed a walrus and an octopus. I can imagine it perfectly and yet this seems too crazy for me. But it actually confuses me that I find that and so much else in this book too crazy. I like fantasy books and supernatural books, but a dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland was too much for me... not sure how that even works and my brain feels like it wants to explode just thinking about it.
I did appreciate The Crow poster, as I adore that movie. But found it creepy that Morpheus is supposed to be a dead ringer for Brandon Lee, no pun intended. I also didn't really like Morpheus as a character, but I don't think you''re supposed to. It does leave me to wonder why there is a sequel and why Morpheus seems to be such a big part of it.
I really do want to stress that this is a really good book, it just isn't for me. I thought it had a really great storyline and I absolutely loved the twist at the end, I thought it was genius. It was well written and had such brilliant descriptions that I could see Wonderland so clearly in my mind. I wasn't the biggest fan of Morpheus or even Alyssa and Jeb for that matter, the world building was a lot better than the character building in my opinion. The ending was really well wrapped up and I can't see the need for a sequel, let alone a third book. I won't be reading my ARC of Unhinged but I am sure there are loads of people who can't wait to dive back into Howard's version of Wonderland.
This is really well written and offers a brilliant and unique twist to the classic Alice in Wonderland story. It has solid world building and you can imagine every part of Howard's Wonderland. This story just clearly wasn't for me. If you are looking for a unique Wonderland story, definitely pick this up because I don't think you will be in any way disappointed.
I really feel like the only person who didn't 5-Star-love this book. Don't shout at me too much blogosphere!