Title: Splintered
Author: A. G. Howard
Released: January 1, 2013
Favorite quote: “Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.”

I picked up Splintered on a trip to Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR with my fiancé. (He knows I have a slight Wonderland obsession.)

On goodreads, I originally rated this 4/5 stars before changing it to 3/5. Let me explain: I really like the book from the story to the style to the way Wonderland is portrayed; however, the characters were very stereotypical and the depiction of the insane asylum is horrendous. There’s way too much to even write about this novel because it’s just packed with details that I’d like to mention in its every aspect! But, I will try.

First, there’s reality versus Wonderland. I’d like to believe that Howard purposefully blew details of reality out of proportion in order to capture the whole teen angst feel that both Alyssa and Jeb have going for them. If not, that’s how I’ll at least interpret it since it is first person point of view and I’ll owe that to playing on the characters’ feelings. The same can be said of the insane asylum where the protagonist’s mother is kept. Okay, some of those details can be because of first person pov interpretation of the factual world around her. However, there are some things about the asylum that (as other reviewers have pointed out) don’t add up with the contemporary setting.
1) Straitjackets.
2) Abuse of sedatives on a whim by a nurse.
3) Drugs not being properly stored.
4) How the conclusion shows leads people to question why security cameras weren’t checked.
Yes, I do love the concept, but the asylum was a very unrealistic modern reality. There are laws. Even if the town the Gardners live in seems a bit backwards in ways, the whole asylum depiction just doesn’t work for me that well. It wasn’t until after finishing that I even really thought about it, though, so it didn’t detract from the reading. While reading, I kept thinking that it was just Alyssa’s view of the place. After I’d finished, however, the details didn’t add up right so I had to have an argument with myself about how realistic the “reality” in Splintered really was.

Wonderland, however, is – pardon my French – fucking amazing. Howard is a genius! I want to crawl inside her mind and just live for there (with some safety goggles and armor) for a while. Her insanely twisted Wonderland ties in so well with Carroll’s that I’d think it impossible for anyone not to appreciate how beautifully she crafted it. Characters and details and plot points from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland are woven into Splintered is such a way that it’ll be hard not to be reminded of the modern twist next time I pick up the classic story. It’s creepy, unique, and ultimately a thrilling view of the land we all know and love.

Alyssa Gardner is a little bolt of angsty lightning, though. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But angst coupled with gothic style with a touch of teenage rebellion? That’s a bit of a problem for me. It’s overdone. Even though it’s overdone, though, there are certain aspects of that type of protagonist that do move the plot forward. Her art, her skateboarding, her need to do everything in her power to stand apart from her mom… It works, but not well enough. I wish there had been something different. I did like her style and her snippy witticisms that wouldn’t have worked as well with another type of character, but I think the problem that I have is just how it’s described. She seriously is a mix between Molly Ringwald from both “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” as well as the supporting actresses from both. That’s how Alyssa felt: it wasn’t the best feeling to get from a main character that I so wanted to love because I prefer there to be something original about them. Once she was in Wonderland, though, I did fall in love with her. She’s the ideal mix of damsel and heroine, if that makes sense.

Love triangles are kinda my not-so-secret other obsession. I love reading them (though I try desperately not to write them). That being said, I hate Jeb. I think he’s sweet and his history clearly ties him to Alyssa, but so does Morpheus’. Now, at one point in the story, she described them in a way that made the reader believe she views them as polar opposites that relate to the two halves within her that create her whole being. I have a major problem with this, but I’m waiting until I finish the series to go into detail. Even though I know this isn’t going to end well, I can feel that this has the potential to be a story where the main character flips back and forth between love interests with such fickleness that I end up despising her. Let’s hope that I’m wrong! (Either way, I never hate those characters for long – just their treatment of others until they realize how terrible they are.)

Do I recommend it? Yes. I really did love it. It’s a great book and as long as you don’t expect it to be absolutely life changing, I think it’s a fun read. Honestly, I keep flipping back and forth between it being one of the greatest and one of the okayest. One thing is for sure: I don’t think I’m going to make my mind up decisively on one or the other. But yes, I do recommend it.


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