Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Pages: 371
Format: Hardcover
Average Rating: 3.99
Read it in: 3 days
Source: Bought from Amazon

- Summary -

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

- Review - 

I have adored Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for as long as I can remember, so it comes as no surprise that I continually find myself gravitating toward stories and movies that are based on his characters and ideas; which is how I ended up with this book in my hands, anticipating yet another wonderful reading experience.

1.) Plot;

I like to think that I have a high tolerance with Alice spin-offs, given that I have seen/read so many of the ones that are out there, but this particular story was definitely not one of my favorites. If I had to describe it in comparison to the others, I would probably say that it was a 'Tim Burton' take on an already very Tim Burton idea; which would not be such a bad thing if the plot wasn't so confusing. The majority of my time reading was spent either playing catch-up with the author's chaotic writing or trying to figure out what the heck was going on. The action sequences were not very well written and a lot of the character descriptions were completely unbelievable and unimaginable. Don't get me wrong, the idea was a very unique take on an already overused plot, but it completely lacked the follow-through.

2.) Characters;

The characters were probably the most disappointing part of this book; especially our heroine, Alyssa. She was needy, whiny, clingy, and extremely clich├ęd. She would often set her mind to something, talk herself up to the point where you actually believed that she would follow it through, and then suddenly find herself feeling useless once again. After the third or fourth time, this became increasingly unbearable (which is not how you want your main character to be remembered). As far as character development goes, she did not really have any, as she continually bounced between being sure of herself and wanting to cower in a corner and let the boys do the work. This was described in the book as Alyssa's "light" and "darker" sides, but I personally think the concept of development was just completely lost on the author, who wanted her character to be both strong and weak at the same time. The only time I was actually rooting for Alyssa was toward the very end, when she was facing off with Queen Red. Other than that, the girl got on my nerves.

Another disappointing character was Jeb, who was the first of two love interests we were introduced to in the story. He was clingy and possessive, and his relationship with Alyssa developed (if you could call it that) way too fast and then ended just as abruptly; only to begin again a few pages later. He kissed her in the hall of mirrors, claiming to have been crushing on her "since forever," and then pushed her away immediately after. He told her he believed in her, but then talked her father out of letting her go to London and was constantly trying to protect her, like she was some weak little child (granted, she did act like one). His character was so confusing and back-and-forth, I just could not take him seriously. And then the ending happened. Given how quickly they got together in Wonderland, I would much rather have preferred a slow-developing relationship that took up book two (and possibly three, if there is one) to the sudden "I have loved you this whole time" that occurred instead.

Morpheus, AKA love interest #2, was probably the only one that I did like in this story. He was sexy and provocative—and oh, that accent—but that was not what made him a great character. Unlike Alyssa and Jeb, he had flaws that I could actually sympathize with, and was the only one that I could envision as an actual living, breathing person. He was incredibly selfish; concocting an entire plan just so Alyssa would become Queen of Wonderland, but he also loved her and taught her things about herself that she would not have figured out otherwise. And more than that, he felt awful for abandoning the first Alice when she needed him most, however unintentional it had been, and promised never to do the same to Alyssa. Everything that he did and said had a motive, but those motives had other, less selfish motives behind them, and I was surprised that in a book with so many things that just didn't add up, Howard was able to get this one character right. He was sweet and cute and, unlike Jeb, pushed Alyssa to do things for herself. Also, I really liked that his character was based off of Caterpillar rather than the Mad Hatter, which is a reoccurring trend in a lot of these Alice in Wonderland stories. It was a nice, original change. One that I definitely appreciated.

As far as the whole supposed love triangle goes, I suspect my vote is pretty clear. I honestly do not think that Jeb and Alyssa are a good match, given the circumstances surrounding their "relationship," as well as their characters overall.

3.) Writing;

In my notes, I wrote that the author's writing was 'blah,' which I think sums it up rather nicely. I wont lie, there were some very poetic lines throughout the story, but, overall, you could definitely tell that this was the author's first book. As stated above, the action sequences and writing were extremely chaotic, and a lot of the character/landscape descriptions were unbelievable and too otherworldly. Also, one of the main problems I had with the author was that she seemed to think that we, the readers, were extremely dumb and incapable of figuring things out, especially toward the beginning and middle. There were moments where it felt like very simple things were either being treated as some big secret or spelled out for us. I am not an idiot, Miss Howard; I'm pretty sure I had Morpheus' character pegged from the beginning and was easily able to realize that "queen" rhymes with "keen" and "seen..."

Despite all of this, however, I feel like this series or trilogy, whatever it may be, has the potential for some serious promise. Seeing as this was only the author's first book, I feel that with a little critique and practice, the next few could be amazing. I look forward, however warily, to reading more.

- Rating - 


The second book in the series, Unhinged, is due to launch January of 2014.

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