Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time to Talkback: Review on Splintered by A.G. Howard

The Authors had their time to talk now it's Time to Talkback. This gives me the chance to review the book or books I have been reading. Now I'm all for a honest review and at times I can be a bit harsh with some of the judgements I voice, as far as book go. But it has nothing to do with the author(s) for without them what would my imagination be (goodness help us all). It is just my own opinion, constructive criticism (I say) and I just want to state it as so many of us sometimes do. Good or Bad, I am always thankful for the books I read and the author(s) who wrote them. So, welcome to Talkback and here to a honest review.

Title: Splintered
Author: A. G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Fantasy, Re-telling Wonderland
Publication date: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages:  371 pages
Source: Books-a-Million, Bought
My Review Rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fantastical re-imaging of the Alice in Wonderland story by Lewis Carroll, is glorious portray in A.G. Howard debut Splintered. Wonderland has never seemed so evil. Howard has taken a magical concept and put her spin on the prettiness of the Wonderland world, making even the white rabbit seem grotesque and troublesome. There was much to be admired in Splintered but in the same instance there was something I didn't fully connect to and I think the romance may have been the culprit.

Splintered is the story of a young girl, Alyssa Gardner, who, like all the females in her family is 'cursed', with the ability to talk to insects and plants. Alyssa, the great-great-great-granddaughter to Alice Liddel, whom Lewis Carrol base his great telling on, fears that the curse that placed her mother in a mental institution will soon be her own fate. Her family and the curse have a connection to the story of Alice and Wonderland and as Alyssa delves further into her family curse she realizes that she must go down the rabbit hole to save her mother and to learn the truth about her family and their origins.
Howard, without a doubt, captured the raw essence of Wonderland. Even though it's a much darker version, it still holds the spirit of the childhood tale. The characters, the dialogue, even the actions while in Wonderland feel original and new and yet we've actual heard some of it before. Every character has their own way of speaking, their own personality, and it's so easy to be immersed within the elegantly described world.

Alyssa is a bit of a tom-boy and likes to skateboard. She is creative, artsy and imaginative, and you can tell this right away with the opening chapters. Howard lays a lot of groundwork to help the reader understand and sympathize with Alyssa and her motivations. And it is this reason why the reader can connect so immensely with her. Her childhood friend, named Jeb, is her constant companion and crush. She believe that he only cares for her in what she thinks is in a "brotherly" way, but we all know that'll get squashed eventually. Jeb's protectiveness of Alyssa is downright overbearing, and her other love interest, Morpheus, uses the fact to his advantage and to gain favor with Alyssa. Morpheus is handsome, charming and suspicious. Jeb hates him instantly while Alyssa is swarmed with memories, realizing that this man has been with her through her entire childhood teaching her things about Wonderland, which explains why she has felt so comfortable in that strange world. However, Jeb seemed to morph to fit Alyssa's needs, and they'd often converse about their feelings during the action. So in essence, we'd have brief romantic-drama interludes that just felt wrong and unnecessary. I’m always up for a good love-triangle but I do not need a pause to get that there is a romance between characters. The book had a slow lagging pace, but it really does picked up when Morpheus entered. His character was new, refreshing, entertaining and also the catalyst for many exciting turns. But by the end, I was left wanting a little more out of his relationship with Alyssa.

The plot was intricately woven and incredibly hard to guess. I was shocked by each revelation and each new twist, especially since I've heard the tale of Alice all before. But Alyssa takes a journey that while sometimes replicates her ancestry, it's an entirely new adventure that's full of changes to the original text.

Overall, I applaud Howard for capturing the spirit of Wonderland and putting her dark spin on the magical world, but the romance (love triangle-ness) really obstructed my connection to Alyssa who spent most of the time worrying about boys instead of her own sanity and her mother's. I look forward to reading Unhinged, the sequel to this incredible debut.

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