Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: 'Splintered' by A.G. Howard

Stop thinking like a human. Literal definitions don’t apply here. 
It’s all in the interpretation. Netherling logic resides in the 
hazy border between sense and nonsense.

For generations the women in Alyssa Gardner's family are cursed, ever since her ancestor Alice Liddell spent her final years in a mental institution muttering about Wonderland and it's bizarre residents. Alyssa herself is constantly bombarded by the voices of insects and flowers; a buzzing that only ceases when she uses the corpses of those insects to create abstract murals of places she's only seen in her dreams.  When her mothers mental health declines even further, Alyssa stumbles upon a truth about her family and herself stranger than any fiction.

This novel is, hands down, one of the best debut novels I've read.  The premise is not entirely original, (the progeny of Alice of Wonderland fame is still haunted by oddities) but the interpretation and re-imagining of Wonderland are wonderfully unique.  Alyssa is a refreshing mix of independence, vulnerability and gumption.  She doesn't allow her feelings for either Jeb or Morpheus to dictate her actions or prevent her from fulfilling her destiny.  The two male leads, Jeb and Morpheus, are both strong characters who's back stories provide plenty of issues for them to reveal and address throughout as the novel.

Howard's interpretation of Wonderland is SO MUCH BETTER than the original!  This Wonderland is reminiscent of worlds created by Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and Brian Froud, combining elements of fantasy, literature and fairytale.  Wonderland in 'Splintered' is darker and more adult than what was created in Carroll's classic which creates more intense situations for Alyssa and her companions.  Readers will enjoy the break-neck speed of this novel, the depth of the world Howard creates, as well as the characters themselves.  I look forward to Howard's next novel and will be promoting it to both my teens and teachers.

Book Source: ARC from Amulet Books (thank you!)
Reviewer: Rebecca

Recommended Ages: 14+ for Fantasy Violence, Sensuality & Underage Drinking

Recommended for Readers of: