Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Splintered by A.G. Howard

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Splintered is an updated version of Alice in Wonderland, one with more grit and unexpected horrors. Horrors along the lines of a skeletal white rabbit, man-eating flowers, and pretty much everything and everyone wants to kill you. I'm always game for a twist on the classics, so I was excited for this book.

Our heroine, Alyssa, is the great-great-great granddaughter of the original Alice. Lewis Carroll based his character on her and the stories she told him of disappearing down the rabbit hole. Alice's life took a turn for the worse in old age. She woke up one day claiming to have spent 75 years trapped in a cage in Wonderland, and was unable to identify her family. Then her grandmother jumped out a window under the belief that she could fly. Now, Alyssa's mother, Alison, resides in a sanatorium. She talks to flowers and insects, dresses like Alice from the story, and only eats or drinks from a teacup.

Ever since hitting puberty, Alyssa has heard the same voices from flowers and insects. She never told anyone because she was afraid to end up in the same place as her mother. After a stressful visit, and news that her mother will be undergoing electroshock therapy, Alyssa is determined to visit Leeds, England, home of the original Alice. She will find the rabbit hole and break the family curse before it destroys her mother, and her as well.

Once Alyssa arrives in Wonderland, things aren't as simple as she'd hoped. First, she accidentally drags along her childhood friend/love of her life Jed. Second, this Wonderland is a far cry from the children's story. Emphasis on the "everyone wants to kill and/or eat you." The biggest obstacle of all is her forgotten childhood friend. He is sort of evil and dark, but also believes in her and her abilities while Jed only tries to protect her all the time. I'm a big fan of the anti-heroes in these books, and I loved Morpheus.

This was a fantastic story. I was very impressed with how well it followed Lewis Carroll's books and turned the details around just enough to be unique. After finishing the book, I read some of the beginning over again, and I was even more impressed with the details I recognized after the fact. Of course, I also love adding to my collection of young adult boyfriends. I don't know why the bad ones are always more attractive than the good ones. (It doesn't hurt that Morpheus is described as having a Cockney accent, so I pictured him as Klaus from The Vampire Diaries, who is my favorite on that show right now) My issues aside, Splintered was a great read and I highly recommend the book for any young adult fan out there.

I received my copy of Splintered from Netgalley, courtesy of Amulet Books. It's available now for purchase.

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