Sunday, September 30, 2012

ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

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.

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Expected Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books

My review:

Utterly AMAZING! That was my first thought upon finishing this book!
I would like to thank the publisher Abrams who offered me an ARC copy of this book through Net Galley to read and give an honest review. I am honored to have been able to read this amazing work of art.

First I'd like to say that the minute I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it! Even before I read the blurb, which I have to admit I did not remember reading when I started the book. This cover is just amazing. I can't get over how beautifully the colors blend and pop off right into your face. And having read the book, yup, totally fits the theme! The cover gave me very high expectations and the book totally lived up to what I imagined.

The characters were so well developed, likable and relatable. Alyssa, a young girl whose family is "cursed" by Alice's adventure through Wonderland, is our heroine. She is beautiful and naive without being totally annoying. She can take care of herself, and her father. She has a backbone and isn't afraid to stand up for what's right once she realizes what that is. She doesn't have that teen angst I worry so much about when reading a YA novel. She hears bugs and flowers talk, and she doesn't know why. She believes she is going crazy, just as her mother did, and her mother before her. But she doesn't want to let anyone know for fear she'll be locked up. And her best friend, and next door neighbor, Jeb, is her rock. He's there when she needs him. They definitely have that sexual tension that you expect from a teen novel. It's palpable from the first time you see them together. And he is not your "typical" YA novel hunk. He's goth and punk. And yet, he's completely swoon worthy beyond a doubt. Of course there's this small amount of "insta-love" at the beginning, but you see throughout the book that it's not what it appears to be at first, because Alyssa has had these feelings for as long as she can remember. And Morpheus, well, he's a bit odd. Very much what I picture Johnny Depp's character was like in the remake of the movie (which I never saw). He's sexy and dark, cryptic and mysterious. You like him one minute, the next you want to punch him in the head. Your not sure whether to trust him, but you know that Alyssa won't make it out of Wonderland without his guidance. He has moments of impossible clarity and softness, then he slips back into his cocoon. He's a character you love to hate. And Alyssa is not sure is she likes him or hates him. She is attracted to him on one hand, but feels guilty for even thinking he's attractive because she knows something is just not right. The best part about all her characters, they all had major flaws in their lives, nothing perfect and wrapped nicely in a bow. And they grow from those imperfections.

The story line is amazing. Imagine, Wonderland is not the fairy tale land we all thought it was. Imagine it's a real place, where the characters we grew up to love are twisted and demented. This re-telling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is more dark, is set in a contemporary time, and takes a very different turn from the original. I love to read fairy tale type stories. It always amazes me what authors can dream up to make a story I knew so well as a child even better when I read it as an adult. The story compels you to move forward and live Alyssa's story. And the twist the story takes is not something you see coming at all. I was completely surprised by the ending! Not only does Howard wrap the story up into a nice little package, but she leaves you wanting more and she definitely left an opening for this book to become a series if she wanted to take that road.

The setting is Wonderland, of course, but it's much different than any Wonderland I have ever seen. It is dark and seductive. The characters are creepy and crawly. The world that Howard portrays is twisted and gruesome. And, despite all this darkness, you cannot tear your eyes from the page.

The writing, well, Howard is GENIUS. It's lyrical and poetic. The descriptions make you feel as though you are right there with the main characters, going through everything they are going through and feeling exactly what they are feeling. Howard is able to actually paint a vivid picture on the page, without having to actually show a picture. I can see the characters transition from one part of Wonderland to the next, the darkness and light, the sand and water, the forest and the castle. Howard creates an easy flowing plot, and a journey that you can only picture as a map in your mind! Totally amazing.

Howard has written a beautiful spin off to Carroll's original tale. She in no way does it any injustice. It is fantasy and paranormal rolled into a fairy tale dripping with darkness and magic. I was enthralled and could not put it down. Splintered is one of my tops reads of 2012, for sure! 5 stars from me!

This review will be posted to the following sites when published:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Books a Millioin
Library Thing

1 comment:

  1. gorgeous cover! and sounds like a fan-freakin-tastic read!

    ReplyDelete

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