ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Posted December 26th, 2012 in book review / 8 comments


by A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books (Jan 1, 2013)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: eBook (384 pages)
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)

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.

At A Glance
I love this warped version of the world in Alice in Wonderland. It was creepy and dark, but also hauntingly beautiful. I just wish Alyssa was a little less oblivious.

The Good
Here’s The Story…
Alyssa may be able to hear bugs and flowers talk, but she knows how to keep it a secret. She will not end up in a mental institution like her mother for her insane delusions. But soon Alyssa realizes that her delusions are real, and so is Wonderland, the place her mother has been babbling about for years. To save her mother from a procedure that should “fix her,” Alyssa decides to face Wonderland herself and try to break the curse on her family. But what she finds in Wonderland is not like Lewis Carroll’s book, it is far more grotesque and treacherous. Alyssa is put through tests on her journey with the help of her secret crush Jeb and her childhood friend Morpheus. But Morpheus lives in Wonderland and knows how to manipulate as good as the next creature in this upside down world. So is Morpheus on Alyssa’s side or are his motives more nefarious?

I’m Late, For a Very Important Date…
In Splintered, Howard takes us on a chilling but tantalizing adventure into Wonderland. This is the story behind the story. Lewis Carroll’s Alice from Alice in Wonderland is Alyssa’s grandmother. All the women from Alice’s side of the family are considered crazy because only they can talk to bugs and flowers. But what Alyssa realizes is that Alice was not so crazy, just traumatized from her time in Wonderland. Alyssa figures out why when she herself takes a trip down the rabbit hole. The world Howard imagined in this book is beyond even my capabilities of imagination. It’s all so horrid and fascinating. Everyone is there: Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Red Queen, Caterpillar, and so on. But there is a twist to each character and their story because Alice’s account of this world was slightly skewed. Howard does not lack in creativity, that’s for sure. Each scene is more amazing than the last. I was conflicted for the fact that I wanted to experience this world myself but I knew I would lack the courage to take on these creatures.

Curiouser and Curiouser…
Alyssa was a fun protagonist. She has a mind of her own and pushes the limits on everything. She’s also very creative and artistic. I’m always jealous of people who can produce such unique art like her. Though Morpheus is her weakness, Alyssa is a very strong personality who fights for what she believes in. Her compassion and wild streak helps her deal with the messed up world she is thrown in. Her courage keeps her going even when all seems hopeless.

Tea Time…
Jeb is not very likable in the beginning. He doesn’t back up Alyssa on some important things and dates a girl who treats Alyssa horribly. Also, his relationship with Alyssa is often too protective. It was annoying. But he redeems himself to the nth degree during the journey. I loved his reactions to Wonderland and Morpheus. Jeb doesn’t take anyone’s crap. He fights for Alyssa every step of the way. He risks his life for her safety. When Jeb and Alyssa finally start to reveal their feelings, I was so freakin’ excited. They are HOT together. I think the crazy journey helps them let loose and realize how important they are to each other.

Who Are You?
Morpheus was all sorts of fun in the beginning. He’s also a sexy little bug. He has the whole mysterious and seductive thing down. His feelings for Alyssa are so confusing. I never knew where he stood and what his plans were. One minute it’s like he loves Alyssa, then the next he sends her out to almost die. I think his downfall is he cares too much and it makes him do effed up things.

Off With Her Head…
I think Howard’s real talent is making flawed characters so likable. Not one of these three characters were 100% likable. I was frustrated with each one more than once, but I still wanted to know more about them, to experience this adventure with them, to love them.

Painting The Roses Red…
This is an amazing debut novel from Howard. I hope this is a series because I would easily get the next book. The ending was satisfying enough that I had a smile on my face by the last page. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s okay. That’s what this book is about: imperfect characters in an imperfect world who love unconditionally.

The Bad
There was nothing too note worthy that bothered me about this book. That is until Alyssa’s naivety and obliviousness got nauseating. How many times did Morpheus have to screw her over or lie to her for her to finally get that he’s out for himself? I wanted to pull my hair out every time she followed him blindly into certain-death scenarios.

The Snuggly
I loved Jeb and Alyssa together. They were adorable and even sexy. Jeb is like the sweetest guy ever. My. Freakin’. Hero. I’d love for Jeb to come rescue me. But Alyssa and Morpheus together…um NO. That was creepy…at first. Then, it kind of got hot. So confused. LOL. The romance is YAish all around so everyone can enjoy this book.

Final Thoughts
Lovely writing, mind-blowing descriptions, and a world like no other. That’s what you get in Splintered. Even when you want to hate a character, you still love them and are drawn to their story. I so hope this is going to be a series. This is a highly recommended read.

“Raising one hand, he tilts his hat to that sexy slant. “You want me. Admit it.”

Even if he’s partly right, I’ll never tell him. “Why would I want you?”

He lifts thee fingers to countdown. “Mysterious. Rebellious. Troubled. All those qualities women find irresistible.”

“Such an optimist.”

“My cup is never empty.”

“Too bad your brain is.” The words bite, but my smile softens with affection.” 

“Do you really think these are Alice’s tears?” I ask. “That I’m supposed to make them go away somehow?”

“I’m the wrong guy to ask. I just saw a skeleton with antlers and a forest of aphid-noshing flower zombies.:” 


“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.” 

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8 Responses to “ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard”

  1. Ashley

    Great review!! I agree with a lot of what you said. Alyssa and Jeb are so yummy together! I wasn’t really a fan of Morpheus though. I got a creepy stalker rapist vibe from him. I don’t like how Alyssa fell for it at all.

  2. Elisa

    This sounds like so much freaking fun! I am putting this on the list right away. Fantastic review! It makes me want to read all things Alice…

  3. Sarah Elizabeth

    The bug thing gave me the creeps a bit in this book – couldn’t imagine having art made from dead bugs on my walls, I’d be so scared that they would come alive in the night and attack me! really unusual idea but ick!

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