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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: January 1, 2013
Pages: 384
Source: For Review from Abrams
Rating: 3 Stars

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.

In short: Splintered by A.G. Howard is an excellent re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, but the plot needed a bit more structure to maintain my interest.
What a cool concept - a spinoff of Alice in Wonderland in which Alice's great-great-great-granddaughter, Alyssa, must return to Wonderland to get rid of the curse that has been placed on her family. In Splintered, the Wonderland we know from Lewis Carroll's classic is much darker and demented. Debut author A.G. Howard does an excellent job of re-imagining the world and story we know so well into an edgier and scarier version, while still maintaining the scattered and strange tone of the original story.

Interestingly - and unfortunately - the thing that I liked most about Splintered (that is, that it did a remarkable job of capturing the strangeness and randomness of the original story) was also the thing I disliked most about Splintered. I prefer a bit more structure and reason in my plots and Splintered was a bit too much on the zany and random side to maintain my interest. Again, I do believe the zany-ness was absolutely necessary in an Alice in Wonderland spinoff, but I just need a bit more realness to feel invested in a story and that is purely my personal taste.

And I can't say I was a fan of the love triangle either - let's see, a choice between a controlling and demeaning guy or a creepy and manipulative guy? No thanks. And by extension, I was pretty annoyed with our protagonist, Alyssa, who falls easily for both guys despite their unappealing qualities - otherwise I would have really liked her, I think, as she seemed to be an independent-minded and strong-willed soul at the beginning of the novel.

While Splintered wasn't completely the book for me, I would recommend it to fans of Lewis Carroll's original story as it is a truly fascinating and impressive take on Alice in Wonderland. And while I wasn't completely enchanted with all aspects of Splintered, I was at least taken in by A.G. Howard's writing and creepily demented imagination, and I would definitely read another book of hers.

Other Reviews:
Books of Amber
Stories & Sweeties

Authors Links:


  1. Ohhh, despite the fact that you didn't love this book, I can't wait to read it! Fairytales are totally my thing and Alice in Wonderland is a great story, so I can't wait to see the dark twist. I hear mixed things about the love-triangle, so I will see for myself how I feel about it. Great review Aylee!


  2. Oh dear, the love interests do not sound even a little bit fun... but I am intrigued by how strange and zany this sounds and... hmmm... it shall be interesting :)

    I'm sorry you didn't love this as much as you hoped, Aylee! But still, WONDERFUL review ♥

  3. Hmmmm. This one seems to be getting a lot of mixed reviews, and I have to say Aylee, that makes me want to read it even more. I think the love triangle will likely frustrate me as they so often do, but I'm kind of curious about this zany-ness you speak of. Sounds different. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. I just reviewed Alice in Wonderland today, so next up is Splintered! I'm still looking forward to reading it, despite the lack of structure and annoying love triangle you talked about (yes, even despite the love triangle), because I like different takes on Alice and, honestly, I'm really taken in by the beautiful cover. I guess mission accomplished, cover designers. Great review.

  5. I had to DNF this one. That guy that met with her father and put a stop to her abroad plans and then as soon as we met the other douche I checked out. Oh and when they decided to take a nap in the boat. UGH! So bad. But I am happy to see that you overall managed to enjoy it. I do have to admit that I liked the much darker side of Wonderland that was presented. Great, honest review, Aylee! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I really want to read this because I love Alice in Wonderland and I like the idea of a darker and edgier Wonderland. I'm sorry to hear this wasn't for you, I don't mind the zany and unrealistic at times, I think I always need something over the top in my reading at times, but I can understand how something like this isn't for everyone. Glad you still enjoyed it a bit.

  7. I can deal with zany and random and as you said, it's to be expected from an AiW retelling, but like you, I need something solid, some anchor to keep it together, to keep me connected to the story, so I understand exactly what you mean. I don't know if I'll decide to pick this one up, I generally stay away from retellings.
    Wonderful review!

  8. I love Alice in Wonderland and anything that has to do with it so the synopsis in this one sounds fantastic but even though I do like a little bit of randomness on my novels I need something concrete to fall back on too. I'm not so sure I'll like this one if the two love interests are both terrible. Thanks so much for your honest review Aylee.

  9. I like the idea of Alice in Wonderland but I have not read the actual book. The reimagining sounds fun, but I keep hearing mixed reviews about this one, so I'm not sure if it would be for me or not. Sounds like something I should get at the library first. I hate that there is a love triangle of TWO bad choices. Not fun.

    Thanks for your thoughts; glad you'd read more by the author though! That's a plus.

  10. It sounds like the story went a little TOO cuckoo.
    Alice in Wonderland can be such a hard thing to pull off, really, because it's all about the balance.

    Too bad this wasn't better, and that it had a love triangle. I'm so over 'em.

  11. I think I'm gong to enjoy the twistiness and craziness of the plot, but I totes get what you mean about structure. I may just preach about it like cray myself by the time I'm done with this one.

    Oh, I'm so nervous about this one! Mainly because most people are of the singular opinion that the two dudes in SPLINTERED are as unappealing as dirty trash cans. Which is no fun. I hope I find a glimmer of awesome in one or both of them in any case... *eyeballs nervously* I NEED to love my characters to love a book.

  12. This is next in my TBR pile so it's good you decided to review it, Aylee, before I started reading it. I'll hold off on it for now as I want to start the new year with books I really, really want to read.

    It's disappointing to hear that this one doesn't have much of a structure. And why do authors keep writing romantic leads as creepy or controlling and expect us to fall in love with them?!

  13. I completely understand why people are so excited for this book. The cover is stunning and the premise is incredibly cool. I love retellings of classic literature.

    But I have a feeling that I'll probably be with you on wanting more structure. Both mental illness and zany, illogical plots are things I know I don't like as a reader. So I'm hesitant to read this one, but it's largely due to me knowing my personal tastes and has nothing to do with what a cool concept it is.

    I hope this book finds readers that love it because it sounds like the author is incredibly clever and talented!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

  14. I hadn't read the summary of this one until now, but it does sound like a great idea. Too bad it wasn't executed to your enjoyment. I may, or may not, give it a shot in the future. But I groaned when I read about the love triangle. I love them sometimes, but some books can go without them, and this one seems like the kind of book that didn't really need one to make interesting.

    Thanks for the honest review :)

  15. This is one I truly wanted to read, I'm glad to hear your thoughts. I'm not going to rush out and buy this one just yet, I may wait unitl its available at the library - or maybe I will just download the preview e-book and see what I think. It sounds like it may be just a little weird for my tastes.