Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: Splintered

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. Quoted from Goodreads


First we had vampires, followed by angles.  Then dystopia smashed onto the scene.  Now I suppose Alice and Wonderland are getting their turn on the YA stage.  Honestly, off all the different adaptions I've read, and I've read quite a few, this is probably one of the truest to the original story (but not a retelling.  It just uses the the original as history, and goes from there), while still maintaining its own, absolutely separate, story and characters, and I found it a lot of fun.

First, there's Wonderland itself.  It does follow more the Tim Burton movie vision, macabre and crazy, but since even the Disney version is a bit creepy, I kind of enjoyed it.  The world was twisted, dark, and strangely beautiful.  I really think A.G. Howard did an excellent job with her world building here, and how she blended the old Alice story into Alyssa's new adventure.

Now for Alyssa's story.  As it says above, Alyssa's family is cursed, but she discovers that if she can fix Alice's  mistakes in Wonderland, things Alice did that threw Wonderland out of balance (like create an ocean from her tears) then the curse will be broken. The beauty of this is that Alyssa gets thrown into some version of the same situations Alice faced, so we get to see all the "familiar" characters from the original book (with an A.G. Howard twist), but the story itself remains completely separate.

Then we have all the plot twists. Some of them were pretty predictable, but there were some I never saw coming. I loved how the ending turned out, with just the right amount of peril and action, mixed with betrayal and touching moments. 

All of the above I absolutely loved.  What I didn't actually love, was the love interest, or interests, if you prefer.  Don't get me wrong, there were the requisite sweet moments, moments when they guy will do anything for Alyssa, and you can see why she falls in love with him.  But then there are the other moments where the guy acts like a jerk, and then the love aspect goes down hill.   

Here's the thing, Morpheus is supposed to be mysterious and kind of creepy.  It goes with the whole wonderland territory, so while I didn't approve of certain aspects of his behavior (he was a complete jerk at times) , it was consistant with the setting and his character as a whole.  It was Jeb I had issues with from time to time.  First, his deciding with her dad she couldn't go to London?  Yeah, that was just creepy and wrong of both him and her dad.  Why would he be involved in a decision like that anyway?  Then there's the whole reason he wasn't with Alyssa from the beginning.   I just didn't really buy into his reasoning.  He didn't want to drag her into his problems?  She is his best friend!  She already knows his backstory, his issues, and she still hangs out with him every day.  I don't see how getting involved romantically would suddenly put his past history more in her life, especially since the problems are basicall over.  I just found it a manipulative/weak explination for why they weren't already together.

I know I spent too long on that.  For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, Jeb was mostly very cute and Morpheus was delightfully ambiguous. If you're craving a great twist on Wonderland, this is it. For me, this book was a fun 3.5 stars, and I can't wait to see what the author comes up with next.

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