Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Splintered by A. G. Howard (Splintered #1): Review


Splintered (Splintered, #1)

Title: Splintered
Author: A. G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet
Buy This Book: Book Depository

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.

I have to start by commenting on what a beautiful book this is, not only is the cover to die for but I loved that the text is purple and not standard black. The intricate pattern at the start of each chapter was something else I found really beautiful about the book. So the book is definitely aesthetically pleasing and won lots of points for Gryffindor for that.

When it comes to Splintered, I feel like that guy. I have seen this on so many blogs, had it recommended to me so many times, and seen so many 5 star reviews that I was sure I was going to absolutely love this. But I didn't. *Ducks to avoid being hit*. I am sorry blogosphere, I really am, but this just wasn't for me. It did make me realise a lot about myself as a reader though and I came to understand why I couldn't love this as much as everyone else did.

First I need to stress that this is in no way a bad book. It is ridiculously well written, has a great story and offers a really brilliant, unique twist to the Alice in Wonderland story. But, I personally struggled with it and couldn't get swept up in the story as much as everyone else did.

I was put off from the very first lines, and later was completely confused by it:
"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."
Now I immediately found the main character rather crazy and strange. Especially when I found out she then uses the bodies of the bugs she kills to make art. Weird! But then the book went on to completely contradict itself, which always drives me crazy. The character later tells us that she has two eels for pets, because a cat or a dog didn't work because hearing a bug scream as it gets eaten by them was too much for her. But she has no issue with killing hundreds of them herself to make art. Find me the sense in that and you shall have twenty points for your house.

Alyssa Gardener is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the child who inspired the Alice in Wonderland story. But since Alice, the women in the Liddell family have all ended up mentally ill, with Alyssa's own mother in an asylum. Alyssa herself can hear bugs and plants talking, and knows she may end up just like her mother. But one day she realises that her mother isn't crazy, that Wonderland really does exist. If Alyssa is to break the curse on her family, she will have to dive into the rabbit hole and undo the mistakes her great-great-great-grandmother made all those years ago.

I did learn something about myself as a reader. I am not a fan of crazy. I really, really enjoyed the book at the beginning, but unlike so many others, my problems really begun when Allysa got to Wonderland. It was all a little too dark and crazy for me. The octobenus, which no matter how many times I came across it I still read it as octopenis, was the first thing that got me and it just went from there. An octobenus is basically what would happen if you crossed a walrus and an octopus. I can imagine it perfectly and yet this seems too crazy for me. But it actually confuses me that I find that and so much else in this book too crazy. I like fantasy books and supernatural books, but a dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland was too much for me... not sure how that even works and my brain feels like it wants to explode just thinking about it.

I did appreciate The Crow poster, as I adore that movie. But found it creepy that Morpheus is supposed to be a dead ringer for Brandon Lee, no pun intended. I also didn't really like Morpheus as a character, but I don't think you''re supposed to. It does leave me to wonder why there is a sequel and why Morpheus seems to be such a big part of it.

I really do want to stress that this is a really good book, it just isn't for me. I thought it had a really great storyline and I absolutely loved the twist at the end, I thought it was genius. It was well written and had such brilliant descriptions that I could see Wonderland so clearly in my mind. I wasn't the biggest fan of Morpheus or even Alyssa and Jeb for that matter, the world building was a lot better than the character building in my opinion. The ending was really well wrapped up and I can't see the need for a sequel, let alone a third book. I won't be reading my ARC of Unhinged but I am sure there are loads of people who can't wait to dive back into Howard's version of Wonderland.

3/5 Stars

This is really well written and offers a brilliant and unique twist to the classic Alice in Wonderland story. It has solid world building and you can imagine every part of Howard's Wonderland. This story just clearly wasn't for me. If you are looking for a unique Wonderland story, definitely pick this up because I don't think you will be in any way disappointed.


I really feel like the only person who didn't 5-Star-love this book. Don't shout at me too much blogosphere! 

20 comments:

  1. I felt the same way about the original story -- too crazy for me -- so I've wondered about this one. I appreciate your honest review. I still might read it someday....

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    1. Thanks :) I struggled with the original story too.

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  2. Nice review! I have to say that I was hesitant about this one too despite all the shining reviews. I won this in a contest last month but have yet to receive it. But after reading your review, I am wondering if I am going to be liking it all that much and if I should possibly allow the land of mail limbo to keep the book. I have enough to read as it is.

    Like you said, it does sound like an intriguing story, but now that I know more about it. I am not quite sure I'd enjoy it myself. Well, I'll decide if the book ever decides to arrive at my doorstep.

    But still, very nice review! It's always a struggle to write a review for a book you didn't necessarily like a lot. So very nicely done!

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    1. Thanks so much, I always struggle writing reviews for books I didn't love. It was just a little too crazy for me. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts if you ever receive and read the book.

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  3. Sometimes everyone's favorite book isn't for us. I didn't like Divergent. :)

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  4. I've been holding off on reading this book because I'm afraid it won't be my kind of book. I want to give it a try but like you said I don't want to be that guy. But now that I know there's someone who didn't absolutely love it, I may try it and know I'll have someone to talk to if I don't like it :)

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    1. I would love to find someone else who didn't like it! I feel like the only one! If you do read it, I'll definitely be checking out your review :)

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  5. Too bad you didn't love it but everyone can have their own opinion. Personally I loved this book and I already received Unhinged (Thank you for that! :D)!

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    1. Glad Unhinged came, I hope you love it as much as you loved Splintered :)

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  6. I have this book borrowed from the library, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I hope it's my cup of tea, but it's unfortunate it wasn't yours! Not every book is for everyone, so don't worry if you didn't like what everyone else loved!

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    1. I know, we can't all love everything. I hope you enjoy it though and I'll definitely be checking out your review if you ever write one :)

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  7. Whew... Wait what? Killing bugs to make art? *shudder*
    Okay, I really wanted to read this book. And while I think I probably will, I think I do have to change my expectations before actually reading it...

    Oh man, I really shouldn't have read your review! Now the only thing I'm going to be thinking of is the 'killing bugs' thing.
    Personally I enjoy stories that are a little darker, so I'll probably enjoy it, as long as it doesn't get more disturbing then making art with bugs and all. Lol (I'm kinda freaked out if you hadn't noticed yet)

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    1. I hope you read it and I'll definitely be checking out your review if you do. I know, the killing bugs aspect really turned me off this book. But once I got further into the book, I started to forget about it!

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  8. I really liked Splintered and gave it 4/5 but it's really interesting to read your thoughts, because I agree with some of your issues. For one thing, I didn't especially love Morpheus or Jeb either. I didn't mind too much in Splintered, because there was so much world-building etc going on as well. I've just finished Unhinged though, and Morpheus felt like a huge part of that, and to be honest, I kinda just wanted to punch him half the time!

    I completely agree about Splintered being a book that everyone seemed to read and love, and for me, that meant I had really high expectations, and although I did like it, it didn't quite live up to the hype.

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    1. I'm glad I didn't read Unhinged then, I don't think I could deal with Morpheus for long stretches... he was really annoying! I think my expectations were ridiculously high too, because I'd seen NO bad reviews at all... maybe that made me judge it a lot more harshly.

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  9. OCTOPENIS!!! LOLOLOL. I really liked Splintered (and Unhinged, too), and as you're well-aware, you have to look hard to find an unenthusiastic review for this book, so it was refreshing to read yours for another perspective.

    I had a similar experience with Red Rising by Pierce Brown. It seems everyone LOVES that book but me. I could recognize how well-written it was, but it was just not for me.

    I always say that it would be a boring world if everyone liked the same things. :)

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

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    1. Octopenis, I really don't know why that's how I kept reading it but it made me laugh every time it popped up!

      It always feels weird writing a negative review, when you haven't seen any other negative reviews. But, it's very true, we don't all like the same things. If that was the case there would be no variety!

      Glad you liked the review! :)

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  10. As a fan of Alice in Wonderland, I'd have to say that you have to expect the crazy from any Wonderland-themed story, so this worked really well for me :)

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    1. I know, I probably should have known that going in. But, it just seemed a lot crazier than the Alice in Wonderland I know.

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