Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition, First Printing edition (January 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1419704281
ISBN-13: 978-1419704284
Amazon Review: 4.4/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on

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 bought this book from Barnes and Noble

I was entranced with this book from the start. Not a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, or at least the Disney version, so I was intrigued to read a darker, grittier take on the classic tale. The cover itself is enough to pique my interest, even if it wasn’t an Alice-story. I adore that cover. Attractive girl, but a face with character. Pretty hair but not perfect. Bugs and vines and butterflies haphazardly scattered around. I was dying to read this book!

And at first, Howard didn’t disappoint. Thankfully, the writing was exceptional. Maybe a 4/5 I’d say. Good enough that I took notice, but it also allowed me to melt into the story and not focus on whether I would have written it this way or that. The curse of becoming a writer makes reading others like a daily Beta read. The characters, the story, the plot, the setting pulled me in and I couldn’t wait to find out more. But then I hit a few snags. They pulled me out of the story just a little bit, and I’ll get those out of the way so I can get back to how I liked this book.

First, Taelor. Do we need another spoiled, self-centered bitch who gets the gorgeous good guy even though she’s horrible. I don’t care what kind of sob-story she tells Jeb about her dad, he’s supposed to be Alyssa’s best friend, and he hooks up with the girl who has tormented and bullied her since they were kids? No way. That would be the end of any teen friendship right there. And I think Alyssa’s life was miserable enough without the added Taelor effect that we didn’t need it. They could have skipped Taelor, (maybe kept the bullying), Alyssa stealing Tae’s money, Jeb finding out, the resultant nothing over the situation, and any “guilt” Alyssa felt about connecting with a “taken” guy and just focused on the idea that two best friends were reluctant to ruin their friendship by risking a romantic entanglement. Too much drama.

And then there’s the love triangle. I don’t mind love triangles. I have one in my novel, but something about this bothered me. To start with, Jeb and Taelor bothered me. But add in Alyssa’s mooning over him for years but supposedly Jeb doesn’t notice, and throw in a sexy, evil bad boy in Morpheus and things just got out of hand. I felt there should have been one guy. Either she’s fighting an attraction to her best friend from the real world, or she’s fighting her attraction to a dark, sinister guy she can’t trust. Not both. I would have been happy either way.

Okay, so I can’t remember anything else. I read this on vacation weeks ago. I’m pretty sure there was something else, but oh well. On to better things. Other than the aforementioned issues, I really liked this book. It was magical and entrancing. Seeing the age-old story through a darker lens was like a delightful little guilty pleasure. It was so much better than the sugar-sweet Disney version and much more like the Tim Burton imaginings. And clever. Howard has a beautiful imagination that runs wild and free, spinning into strange territory and taking what were once loved and sterile characters and turning them into something completely different, for better or worse. I’m definitely anxious to read the next book, and the cover is equally as enticing, but my library doesn’t have it and I can’t buy it. I purchased Splintered in paperback, so Unhinged has to be in paperback. That’s just how I roll. But it hasn’t been released in that format yet. *sigh*

My Review: I actually did a calculation this time, instead of a number I thought would fit. I gave it a 4 for writing, a 5 for imagination and a 3 for plot. That comes out to an average of 4/5 stars!

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