Book Review of Splintered by A.G. Howard

Posted December 6, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 24 Comments

Publisher: Amulet

Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

Review: Man, I hate when I don’t love a book as much as most other readers I know have. I always feel like I am going to have cream pies and tomatoes thrown at my face. This is how I feel about Splintered. I was looking forward to reading this book more than anything. I read my ARCs in order so I try to read them within thirty days of their publish date. I kept seeing these awesome reviews coming in and every now an then I would see one from someone who didn’t like it. But for the most part, they were raving. And I hoped that would be me. But…it’s not.

Before I talk about what I didn’t like (and prepare yourself for a disjointed mess, because articulating my thoughts will be tough), I want to talk about the good things. One thing I really loved about this book was the atmosphere. The world-building. I think the author captured the essence and feel of Wonderland really well. Her Wonderland was very different than any other Wonderland I have ever read or watched on TV, but I liked it. It was darker and grittier than the original, and I really got into that part of it. I enjoyed it very much.

The character of Alyssa, a descendant of the original Alice Lidell that Lewis Carroll’s book was based on, was an okay character, but she was a little too much of a helpless heroine for me. She had to be rescued a lot, and more often than not she just fell into a solution without actively solving anything. She was definitely not a strong female. She was a tool to be used by the inhabitants of Wonderland for their own agendas on numerous occasions. I didn’t feel she was as developed as well as she could have been, but I did feel for her all the same because of the situation with her mother. I liked that whole part of the story quite a bit and I loved the way THAT part of the story unfolded. But other aspects of the book *cough* the romance *cough* made the story fall apart for me.

That’s right. The romance. Jeb mainly. I did not like him at all. He was controlling, condescending, jealous, and I did not like the way he treated the protagonist at all. He did change by the end of the book, but it was a little too late for me. Because of most of his behavior throughout the book, I was not going to change my opinion on him. Once a jerk, always a jerk and all that. Morpheus was ALSO a jerk. But that was his personality from the very beginning and he didn’t try to hide it. Plus, as a denizen of Wonderland, that was kind of his thing and all. It was Jeb that irritated me.

I also kind of felt that the romance in this book was unnecessary and tacked on. And this is where I kind of have to make an example out of this book. It seems that every young adult book these days featuring a female protagonist has romance in it. WHY IS THAT? Do publishers think that teenagers won’t read about a female protagonist unless she is falling in and out of love? Because this book, THIS BOOK, would have been just as good if not better without the romance. There would have been more time to expand the storyline and built the mother/daughter familial relationship. And it annoys the shit out of me that that did not happen because of a stupid, icky love triangle that was completely unnecessary to the storyline. I also think this is why I tend to steer myself towards the books with male protagonists. They are usually more about the story than a romance. I KNOW there are exceptions to this rule. But for the most part…

The writing was okay. Like I said earlier, I loved the world-building, most of the storyline, and the way the author painted her vision of Wonderland. But some of the writing–especially in the beginning–was a bit awkward. There were spots where the author decided to tell me something and I would have preferred it in dialogue. There was a little too much summarizing for me. Some of the dialogue was corny. See my Goodreads status updates for that.

I don’t know. This book was decent but I had a lot of problems. I could go on for days about how the story kind of fell apart in the second half and it went way off on a tangent that even I could not follow. And this is Wonderland. It’s supposed to be wacky. But not THIS wacky. But I’ve already gone on for long enough now and I know once you reach a certain point in your reviews people stop reading, so this is where I call it quits.

Do I recommend this one? With reservations. As far as Alice retellings go, this was miles ahead of Alice in Zombieland, but it still wasn’t THAT good. Do I think it was over-hyped? Oh hell yeah. But I also do think that I am kind of in the minority on this one and that most people love it. So I wouldn’t NOT read it based on my review. Sometimes I just don’t click with a book and that is totally okay.

3/5 Dragons
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24 responses to “Book Review of Splintered by A.G. Howard

  1. Hmm the way you describe the MC as simply a tool to be used reminds me of exactly how I felt about Araby in Masque of the Red Death, and that totally annoyed me. I’m really excited for this one and sad that you didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. Actually, I take that back. I know its rude but I’m happy you didn’t rave about it because this lowered my expectations a bit. Nothing worse than uber high expectations. Great review Kara!

    • Yes, I can see why you felt that way about Araby! I liked that book but it wasn’t my favorite either. I’m interested to see how you feel about this one, Jenni! Not rude at all to say what you said. I completely understand what you mean. Maybe you will enjoy the book more now!

  2. I love the cover on this one. If I get the chance, I might read it, but I’m tired of choking down YA books with flimsy characters and romantic storylines. BLEH.

  3. Amy

    I hate it when I am really looking forward to a book that everyone seems to love and I just don’t. I don’t like helpless MC’s either. It sounds like the romance takes away from the story too. I enjoy a good romance, but not when it takes over the story or just seems out of place. I am reading this one soon. I hope I enjoy it. Oh, and the line about Alice in Zombieland, I’m glad it’s better than that. I DNF’d that one.

    • I did feel that it took over the story. Everything going on with Al’s family/mother was pushed to the back burner for this crap romance and I didn’t care for that at all.

      Alice in Zombieland was TERRIBLE.

  4. Sam

    I won’t throw tomatoes at you just yet. 😉

    Aww I’m sorry you were a little disappointed in this one, Kara! I loved it a lot, though I do completely understand why you had issues with Jeb. I recognised those flaws too, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the romance in the end (minus the love triangle). It was a little dramatic at times, though a part of me enjoyed the tension, I guess. I’m glad you were impressed with the world-building though. I too enjoyed the atmosphere of Howard’s Wonderland and look forward to reading this again one day. Brilliant review! 🙂

  5. When Splintered‘s cover was first revealed and everybody was automatically talking about how awesome it was, I looked at this one with reservations. I’m not a huge fan of Lewis Caroll in general, and it seems like the majority of YA retellings end up being disappointed.

    It’s definitely a huge shame about the romance, since it was not only bad but, in your estimation, unnecessary. I really don’t think it’s as hugely important as the publishing world seems to think. For myself, I always get super excited when I get to the end of a YA book and realize there were no declarations of love or kissing or anything. It’s really rare these days! And good point on male protags—it’s definitely very true.

    Anyway. Awesome review, Kara!

    • I know. Why does the publishing world think all ya books with a female protagonist need a romance? Okay, maybe not all, but it seems like 99% of them to me.

      I also get excited.

  6. I’m not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, so I’ve successfully avoided all the recent AiW re-takes in YA and I think I’ll skip out on this one too. While it does have some interesting qualities, I think the bad would outweigh the good for me. :/ Still, incredible review, Kara! 🙂

  7. Sigh. Though our reasons why this book didn’t work out for us differ, I too felt like a fool for not liking this as much as everyone. Oh well, I guess you can’t like them all.

    Great review, Kara.

  8. This one seems to be a hit or miss with people as I’ve seen glowing five star reviews and “meh” reviews. I have this on my kindle from NetGalley and will more than likely read it next. The romance you talk about is troubling, because I dock stars for that alone. But I’m glad to hear it’s better than Alice in Zombieland (then again, is that really a difficult feat?!). Anyways, great review, Kara!

    • It’s not really that difficult of a feat at all. I am pretty excited to hear what you think about this one and I cannot wait to read your review whether you like it or not.

  9. Great review! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more, but I understand how you feel. I liked it a bit more than you did (4 stars) but I still agree with a lot of your points. I didn’t have a problem with Jeb, but I didn’t like Morpheus at all. I didn’t understand how there was a love triangle when he was such a creepy bastard. And I wasn’t that crazy about the end of the book. I feel like the whoel point of the story was Alyssa setting out to save her family—particularly her mom—but then the end of the book was all about her romance with Jeb. Her mom was only briefly present in the ending. I was expecting a bit more from that.

    • That’s so funny. I agree with you about the love triangle. I would rather have had no romance at all, to be honest. I agree with you that the focus should have remained on the family but then switched to the romance. You definitely articulated that better than I did. I feel the exact same way.

  10. Yup, three stars for me too. I bet we’re the same on this one. *reads review*

    Bahahaha, I would prefer for people to throw cream pies. It is worth watching this, also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0BOOgW7rHE

    OMG, this may be as close to in sync as we’ve ever been on a book. World building good, writing sort of okay, romance why the fuck.

    Bahaha, I also hated Jeb more for the same reason. He was a cheating douchebag, but pretended to be a bad boy with a heart of gold, whereas Morpheus was like “I’m a dick and you love me for that.” I didn’t love him for that, but I did appreciate his honesty.

    I’ve actually read several female protag books recently where the romance took a backseat to another plot line and it’s been SO wonderful. I wonder if this correlates to the number of high ratings I’ve had lately… :-p

    • I am so glad we see eye-to-eye on this one. I was worried that no one would agree with me!

      That is EXACTLY how I felt about Morpheus.

      I’d like to know what these books are and feel free to point me in their direction. 🙂

  11. Well, I had my reservations about this one because of few bad reviews, so I’m perversely glad you didn’t like it that much, Kara! 🙂 It means, that I won’t bother to try and get this book, but will pick it from my library if and when they order it and see if it’s worth the read. I have a suspicion that Poison will be like that, and I already saw a bad review on Prophecy – both books with awesome synopsis and gorgeous covers that I was dying to read just like this one. Thank you for a great review!

    • I definitely am hearing the same things about Prophecy. I haven’t heard much about Poison yet but I sure do want to read it. You never know with this one though, you might like it. I did feel like I was one of the few who felt this way. It seems to be a really polarizing book. Thanks so much!

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