Splintered by A. G. Howard
Author: A. G. Howard Website|Twitter
Published: 1 January 2013 (Amulet)
Book Depository: Hardback
Challenge: 2013 Debut Author Challenge
Source: Borrowed from library
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
Since reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass earlier this year, I've been on the lookout for retellings. This one was even more exciting because it's a 2013 debut! Splintered tells the story of Alyssa Gardner, descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll's book. Ever since the time of Liddell, the woman in Alyssa's family have been cursed to insanity.
I really liked the twist on the well known tale and how it links into Alyssa's life. She's an American teenager and it seems so far removed from the original story, but Howard has managed to come up with this great link that ties the two together. The book starts out set in the human world, with Alyssa living with her dad, visiting her mum in the asylum she's being held in and frequenting her local skate park. Then the book takes a more fantastical twist as Alyssa finds her way to the famous rabbit hole and into Wonderland itself. I really liked that you get the best of both worlds, the modern teenage story and the fantasy element, too.
One of my favourite parts of this book was the main characters. There's Alyssa herself who has so much to deal with. Her mum has been labled insane and she fears she's heading the same way as she hears voices from bugs and plants that talk to her. There's also the fact that her whole school knows about her relation to Alice Liddell so she has to put up with jokes about Alice in Wonderland. She's not the most popular of kids and I loved that about her, and I loved that she stands out with her love of skateboarding and her wacky hair extensions. She's just a really fascinating main character.
Then there's Jeb, the boy next door (literally) who's a good friend to Alyssa and, of course, a potential love interest. I have so much love for Jeb, I can't even explain. He is adorable! He's kind and considerate and really looks out for Alyssa. Jeb ends up swept along on Alyssa's adventures which gives the two of them some really great moments together. They have a lot to overcome and I loved how their friendship progressed throughout the story. Add in the second male lead, Morpheus - a resident of Wonderland and someone Alyssa already has a connection with - and it makes for some really great dynamics between the characters.
The only parts where I struggled with this book were in the middle when the story is in full blown Wonderland mode and there's a lot to get your head around. I had similar problems with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and with other retellings I've read because there's just so much crazy stuff going on that you really have to concentrate on what's happening to understand it all. I think this would be a book I'd like to re-read in the future so I can get a second chance at taking everything in. I liked how it really felt like a fantasy novel with sprites and magic and everything, though. If you like fantasy I think you'll love the world created in this book.
The writing in Splintered is another thing I have to mention because it was absolutely beautiful. Right away I was dragged right into that world and all the vivid descriptions had me completely immersed in the story. I'd definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future. And the book itself is so beautiful! I'll be so sad to return it to the library because the little details and all the art throughout make it a book I'd love to own one day, just so I can stare at it and stroke it every so often.
The climax of this book really had me hooked, and there were so many little things that all started to come together that had been so cleverly woven into the story. By the end I was jumping up and down a little and eagerly anticipating the next book. I'd really recommend this to fans of Lewis Carroll's books and fans of all things magical.
What to read next: Unhinged by A. G. Howard, the unreleased second book in the Splintered series
Books like this: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa