Spintered, Book 1
Synopsis: 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: Alyssa is a descendant of Alice Liddell, the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll his most famous work. But Alyssa’s family is cursed. A weird malediction makes all the women in their lineage go crazy. If Alyssa never wanted to believe in her crazy mom’s ramblings, she has to bow to the evidence that crazyness definitively runs in the family. Because Alyssa hears the insects and flowers talking around her. When her mom’s mental health gets worse, Alyssa finally accepts that Wonderland is real and that she has to go there to break the curse. Bringing along by accident her best friend Jeb, she meets with Morpheus, her weird guide through a Wonderland much darker than Carroll let it show in his book. While she has to pass some tests in order to repair Alice’s mistakes, Alyssa will discover dangerous truths that might change who she is and the purpose of her stay in Wonderland…
Splintered is one of the strongest retelling I’ve ever read and is totally in the continuity of the original story. Where lots of retelling loses important connections with their origins, A. G. Howard respects most of the aspects created by Lewis Carroll while creating her view of Wonderland. In this book the Wonderland we discover is far less wonderful than the original one and way darker and twisted. I personally love the original world created by Caroll but I felt compelled a lot more by this one. Splintered’s Wonderland definitively makes me think of Tim Burton’s universe in a way that even his own adaptation of Alice did. I can only bow to the author for these superb adjustments!
Alyssa is an efficient heroine that I really enjoyed following through her journey. She never forgets that her main objective is to deliver her mother from her crazyness while also making sure that Jeb gets out safe and sound. Even while all the revelations and secrets she discovers make her sway, she always stays true to her beliefs. Her relationship with Jeb, who is also her best friend, is simple but cute. It’s still a pretty classic relationship where she has feelings for him while he is dating her arch nemesis but also likes her more than a friend… A configuration we’ve seen a hundred times in Young Adult books before. Anyway Jeb stays her biggest ally throughout the book and definitively proves his loyalty and utility when Alyssa suffers from the secrets she unveils. I just got a bit frustrated with his hero syndrome. I’m getting a bit bored of these guys who always feel the need to sacrifice themselves in order to save the girls, even though they don’t need it.
The characters we meet in Wonderland are totally strange, if not twisted. Who is the person, I’m particularly thinking while saying twisted? Morpheus, Alyssa’s guide in Wonderland! The guy has 100% freaked me out! He clearly has his own agenda and we never know what’s going on in his head and where his loyalty truly lies. Even now, a few days after finishing the book, I still don’t know what to think of him.
The storyline is also one of the strongest points of the book. The universe is rich with lots of opportunities to explore. I just found it a bit complicated to navigate at time. There were so many elements, and things were going so fast, that I happened to be a bit lost sometimes.
To conclude, Splintered is honestly the strongest Alice’s retelling I ever read. The dark and twisted world rethought by A.G. Howard is exciting and all the twists will leave you shaken and craving for more!