By A.G. Howard
Expected Publication January 1st, 2013
Young Adult | Urban Fantasy | Retelling
Source: Received ARC on the ARC Tour from Tami, the Krazy Book Lady and from Amulet books (via NetGalley) in return for an unbiased review
From Goodreads: 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’m having a helluva a time writing this review. I’ve started it three times now. It’s the bane of my existence at this point. I think I’ll blame my lack of getting any other reviews done just on my inability to put into words my feelings on this one book. *sigh*
I love this book.
This was my most anticipated, most wanted book of this year (err, okay, next year). As soon as I read the synopsis, I lusted for it. I turned green with envy every time I saw someone with an actual physical ARC. Yes, I was that blogger. I begged Tami at the Krazy Book Lady, “Pleeeeaaase, don’t let it be too late for me to get on the ARC tour!!!”. It wasn’t, I got on (phew). But, being the gambler I am, I had hedged my bets and ended up with a NetGalley copy, too.
You just know with that kind of hype you’re setting yourself up to come crashing down to reality. The book will inevitably suck dishwater. HELL NO!!! Not in this case! I was entirely blown away by A.G. Howard’s imagination and the story/mystery/world she concocted for our heroine to navigate through. I love the fae/netherlings – the more whacked out the better. And Ms. Howard’s Wonderland certainly did not disappoint!
Story / Tempo
True to the classic Lewis Carroll story, nothing is as it seems from the very beginning of the story. We first meet Alyssa as she’s doing her artwork… bug artwork. She captures bugs, moths, any insect, in a trap that suffocates the insect. She then makes collages out of these bugs. Amazingly, it never really sounded gross to me – it just kind of sounded warped, over the top crazy. But I guess if you could hear bugs and flowers talking, you might want to shut them up every now and then.
And the crazy imagery doesn’t stop there. Even before we hit Wonderland, Ms. Howard has dreamt up some amazing clues for Alyssa so she can find her way to Wonderland to right the wrongs that Alice did so many years ago. There is a ton of foreshadowing, hints, details that come out in the beginning that will be referenced later so you might want to be using that “highlight” feature on your e-reader to keep track of interesting quotes.
Setting / World Building
In Alyssa’s “real” world, there’s a skatepark she goes to that’s built into a cave or dome-like structure and it’s mostly dark and lit up with black lights. The only way you see your board is if you have glow tape on it. What the??? Is there such a place? I never would have imagined such a place. But Ms. Howard did! If it’s not already built, someone needs to go build one!
You can only imagine it gets frightening weirder once Alyssa leaves the real world and enters Wonderland. The creatures that inhabit this world are absolutely amazing! It’s when I re-read passages that I pick up more details about the creatures and their personalities. I think I flew through the first reading just a bit too fast.
The one inhabitant of Wonderland that makes the entire book worth reading is Morpheus. He is such a complex character. From his appearance to his personality, everything about him is dual. UGH, I want to go on and on about him but I can’t. I actually have mixed feelings about him. Sometimes while I was reading, I absolutely hated him. Other times, I truly loved him. Some moments I felt sorry for him (but not too often – the man is not dumb!).
I really wish I could do more justice to this book with my review. I fear I’m going to have to rely on the bevy of other rave reviews out there. I KNOW a lot of people will be reading this. If this isn’t on your radar yet, PUT IT THERE!
Author Bio: A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.
When she’s not writing, A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
Tami at Krazy Book Lady
Crystal at WinterHaven Books
Jaime at Two Chicks on Books
Giselle at Xpresso Reads