Author: A.G Howard
Genre: Fantasy | Retelling | YA
Series: Splintered Series #1
Publisher: Abram Books
Publication Date: 1 January 2013
Hardcover: 384 pages
Synopsis: 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.
Splintered was a disappointment. I went into this book thinking it would be different from the other Alice In The Wonderland retellings. Here’s why: in most of Alice In the Wonderland retellings, the main character is always Alice. However, in Splintered, the main character wasn’t Alice, but a descendant of Alice. So I was pretty interested in Splintered (I was attracted to the pretty, shiny cover too!). I came out feeling quite disappointed.
The novel wasn’t a complete letdown, though. Splintered offers rich world building and a realistic portrayal of mental illness. The plot got a bit messy towards the end, but overall, it was okay. It’s definitely way darker and twisted than the original Alice In The Wonderland.
It’s the characters and tropes that ruined the story. Let’s talk about the characters first.
Alyssa is the descendant of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice In The Wonderland book. Unfortunately, the women in her family suffer from a curse which drove them insane. Alyssa’s mother, Alison, got landed in an asylum after trying to murder her when she was a kid. So Alyssa and her father had to live with the fact that Alison was insane for the rest of their lives. A tragic backstory… and a little cliche.
Actually, I kind of like Alyssa. She is smart and can fight for her own self. Of course, she screwed up sometimes. But I didn’t mind her screwing up; it makes her more realistic! Alyssa didn’t have much depth, but I could still relate to her. Maybe it’s because of the rebellious attitude we both have? Anyway, she was a strong female character- at first. Then Jeb came in and she became obsessed with him. It was always Jeb this, Jeb that…
Speaking of Jeb, I absolutely HATE him. I don’t think I’ve ever read a character so irritating before (apart from the characters from Twilight, maybe). Jeb treats Alyssa like a five-year-old kid. He tried to control whatever she eats, drinks and does.
“No.” Jeb crosses my arms over my chest, then lifts me against one of the curtains on the wall so my feet dangle, pinning me like a butterfly to a cork board. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“Jeb, I think–”
“Shut the fuck up. I decide what you can and can’t do.”
That’s not romance. That’s domination.
Annnnnd… Alyssa falls for him, despite him being overly obsessive with her. She should have fallen for Morpheus instead.
Morpheus is the only character who remained likable throughout the story. Though he was mysterious when he was first introduced, Morpheus’s personality are slowly revealed as the story progress. I couldn’t relate to him much, but at least I could see some character growth in him. Unlike the one-dimensional Jeb.
The romance in Splintered didn’t felt forced/fake, but it wasn’t very well developed either. There wasn’t much chemistry between the Alyssa and Jeb or Alyssa and Morpheus. Yes, there’s the dreaded love triangle.
I felt that the love triangle wasn’t well done. The love triangle was pointless and drew too much attention away from the plot. It was pretty obvious who Alyssa will choose the douchebag Jeb in the end, so there’s no need for a love triangle at all. Maybe it was there just so they could sell Team Jeb/ Team Morpheus shirts or something.
The Alice In The Wonderland retelling aspect disappoints as well. Elements seen in countless other Alice In The Wonderland retellings were present: the sort-of White Rabbit, talking plants and food/ drinks that either makes you grow or shrink. Nothing new.
As for the plot, it was kind of boring at the beginning of the novel, then things start to get interesting- for a few pages. After that, the plot started to get messy and I found it hard to continue reading. The ending was just as messy as the later part of the plot.
Luckily, the writing saved the novel from getting one star from me. Some authors have a way of writing that just make the words flow. Howard is one of them. Her writing make Wonderland come to life in Splintered.
I seriously wanted to bump the rating up to a five. There’s awesome world building, there’s great writing and a creepy but unique idea. Sadly, the bad romance, unlikeable characters (apart from Morpheus) and messy plot/ending ruined my reading experience.
However, I will read the sequel to Splintered in hopes that the issues I have with this novel would be corrected.