Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: Splintered (Howard)

AUTHOR: A.G. Howard
SERIES: none
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1, 2013
ISBN: 9781419704284
PAGES: 384
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: fantasy
SUMMARY: When she was six, Alyssa's mother tried to kill Alyssa with gardening shears. Now, ten years later, Alyssa can hear bugs and flowers talking to her, and she is terrified she will join her mother in the asylum if anyone finds out. Alyssa and her mother suffer under the curse of their ancestor, Alice Liddell, who entered Wonderland and left a mess behind her. To save her mother and herself, Alyssa (followed by her best friend Jeb) goes through the looking glass in an attempt to fix Alice's Wonderland mistakes and lift the family curse.

REVIEW: Eerie, beautiful, and engrossing! I was sucked into Splintered right from the first deliciously warped first paragraph. Alyssa's character is unique and tragic, and I LOVE her skater style. Alyssa's best friend Jeb, while bossy and overprotective, makes a sweet love interest for Alyssa. I never quite understood why he pushed away his feelings for her for such a long time, but whatever. One of the reasons I love YA fiction so much is for the sweet romantic build-up between teens unsure what to do with their amorous feelings.

I love how Splintered takes the Lewis Carroll story (and the poem "Jabberwocky") and spin them into something brand new. You have the same Wonderland characters, but they are not entirely the same. The caterpillar in this story is a dark and sexy mothman who may or may not be trustworthy and may or may not have a thing for Alyssa. Other characters making an appearance include The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, Queen Red, the card army, the Bandersnatch, the white rabbit ("Rabid White"). There is the "mad" tea party, the "Eat Me" cake and "Drink Me" vial, talking flowers, and an ocean of tears. All this enveloped into the new story of Alyssa and her best-friend-crush Jeb. AWESOME.

Plenty of action will keep readers engrossed, but the eerie-ness of Wonderland may be confusing for some readers. There was so much going on that I sometimes had a difficult time following the action toward the story's end. The writing style is beautiful, so I think it was more my reading too fast (and multiple interruptions like children needing dinner and having to go to work, sigh!) than any flaw in the writing.

The ending has closure but leaves some threads unresolved for a sequel. I have no doubt at all that Splintered will do very, very well in today's YA fiction market.

Love the references to the movie The Crow!

THE BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful cover, writing, and world-building. This engrossing book is a MUST for fantasy readers and Alice in Wonderland fans.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I've already been talking about Splintered with my students, and they are very excited about it. I will definitely buy at least one or two copies for the library when it comes out in January.

READALIKES: Alice in Wonderland (Carroll); Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa; The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing
  • Violence: mild-medium; attempted murder by choking, duck served for dinner is given a "fighting chance"
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

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