Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard
Rating: Very Good
Source: Library (Audio)
Description: 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.
Genre: YA - Fantasy
Why I Picked This Book: I love an Alice in Wonderland retelling and the cover is so eye catching.
My Impression: First a disclaimer - while I have read the original Alice in Wonderland I'm not a fan. I love the Disney movie (the original) and have enjoyed some of the recent story adaptations but I'm not devoted to the original story.
Okay, that being said - that book was absolutely bonkers! The imagery was insane and wonderful all at the same time and I loved this particular spin on the original Alice story. Alyssa is a good narrator for this bit of madness. She's smart and seriously motivated to get this all figured out. She's not at all sure of herself which did get a little annoying at times but she was definitely a realistic 17 year old (minus the talking bugs and flowers of course).
This version of Wonderland is much darker than the original (not that the book version is exactly all rainbows) and there's quite a bit of danger and more than a little sadness lurking in the shadows. The adventures are on the nail biting side and while there is a time or two that luck is a factor it's more often than not either Alyssa figuring something out or using her training. I loved that they also refer to the original book occasionally for clues.
There's a bit of a love triangle here which is typically something I hate but it really worked here. There's human world Jeb who has some serious baggage and whose protective attitude towards Alyssa drove me crazy frequently. He meant well but there were times he needed to just take a breath and step away. I did like that he was clearly on her side and proud of her accomplishments. On the Underworld side is manipulative deceptive Morpheous whose motives are never quite clear and no one can quite trust. He reminded me a little bit of Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies but younger and with wings and much much smarter.
There were a few pacing issues at the beginning but when the quest got going I was pulled along and really didn't want to quit listening. I loved how this wrapped up and am super curious to see what happens next. I've seen some complaints on how the mental health care of Alyssa's mother is represented and it definitely feels inaccurate and primitive. However, it isn't the focus of the book and works with both the overwrought atmosphere and as a motive Alyssa's action so I felt it worked.
Audio Note: Rebecca Gibel does the narration and she is amazing. Her voicing for Alyssa and the rest of the characters is spot on and I loved her accents. If you have a chance to listen to this I highly recommend it.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would! I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series and I want to try the new series by Howard as well.
Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy an Alice in Wonderland retelling I think you'd like this one. I'm not a big Fantasy or YA reader but I really enjoyed this one.