Series: Splintered #1
Publisher: Amulet Books on January 1, 2013
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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.
“Tearing down the rest of the world won’t make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That’s what fills the emptiness. It’s the only things that can.”
“Raising one hand, he tilts his hat to that sexy slant. ‘You want me. Admit it.’
Even if he’s partly right, I’ll never tell him. ‘Why would I want you?’
He lifts three fingers to countdown. ‘Mysterious. Rebellious. Troubled. All those qualities women find irresistible.’
‘Such an optimist.’
‘My cup is never empty.’
‘Too bad your brain is.’ The words bite, but my smile softens with affection.”
Favorite Character: Morpheus. I am Team Morpheus all the way!
“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers.”
My Musings: Splintered is a book that I’ve been eyeing for a bit now–ever since it came out, actually. But alas, I haven’t been able to read this book until now. What originally drew me in was the cover–I mean, it’s so beautiful and colorful! And then I found out it was a retelling of Alice in Wonderland–and you don’t see many of those around!
Splintered follows Alyssa Gardner as she ventures into Wonderland to break a curse on her family that makes all of the females hear the voices of animals and plants. So after Alyssa follows a mysterious winged man that seems familiar to her down the rabbit hole, things get crazy. Alyssa realizes that she’s accidentally dragged her best friend along with her–the one that she’s been secretly harboring feeling for. And on top of that, she comes to learn that the things that were described in Lewis Carroll’s story aren’t at all reality. Alyssa must complete a set of tasks to right the wrongs her great ancestor Alice made when she was in wonderland years ago.
“‘How long has it been since we’ve had such delectable visitors?’
Jeb eases us into a small clearing in the midst of the chattering creatures and turns me to face him. “‘Did they just call us ‘delectable’?’”
This novel was filled to the brim with action. The way Howard spun the tale, nothing in Wonderland is what you would have expected from Carroll’s book. White Rabbit? more like White Rabid. Howard put a grotesque spin on everything that Wonderland was, and let me tell you, it made the story that much more interesting. There was never a dull moment–with Alyssa always running around to complete some arduous task, I was never bored.
“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.”
At first, reading Alyssa’s character was kind of a turn off.She was really kind of morbid and it freaked me out. About mid-way into the book, I began to warm up to her character. She really wanted to fix the curse on her family so her mother, who was locked up in an asylum wouldn’t have to stay there anymore. She was really brave in that she did some things that I wouldn’t have ever even considered doing. She was also a pretty strong character. She didn’t let people boss her around–she stood her ground. She was also very selfless. She risked everything so that those she loved would be okay. In the end, I really ended loving her character.
“’Now, you listen, Alyssa Victoria Gardner. Normal is subjective. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not normal. Because you are to me. And my opinion is all that matters. Got it?’”
Jeb is Alyssa’s best friend, the one she’s been crushing on for years. He was an okay character to me. he was nice and protective. That’s the thing that really stood out. He was always trying to protect Alyssa from anything and everything. Sometimes it got annoying on my end as well as Alyssa’s, but it was well placed. He really cared about his well being, and hard as I try (Team Morpheus all the way), I can’t actually dislike his character, because he is pretty perfect.
“He’s a contradiction: taut magic coiled to strike, gentleness at war with severity, a tongue as sharp as a whip’s edge, yet skin so soft he could be swathed in clouds.”
Morpheus, on the other hand, was not perfect in any way. He was dark. Mysterious. Slightly sinful and evil. Just overall a compelling character. He had a certain ari about him that just sucked me in. And I will now and forever be Team Morpheus. Morpheus was a complex character. He was balancing between saving his own life and the genuine feelings he held for Alyssa. And although it may not seem like it at numerous points in the novel, I could tell that he really cared about her. He had some things that he struggles with, and that just makes him all that more appealing. He was truly a fantastic character in my eyes.
“Jeb is stable, strong, and genuine–my knight in shining armor. Morpheus is selfish, unreliable, and transcendent–chaos incarnate. Impossible to compare.”
So by now you’ve probably figured out that there is a love triangle in this novel. I mean…it has to be obvious. Now I usually dislike love triangles, but this one was one of the exceptions. They were so different it should have been easy to pick, and for me it was. But for a lot of people, it may not. This love triangle, though, was weaved so well that it wasn’t overbearing to the story. And if I hadn’t fallen in love with Morpheus from the moment he was introduced (he was British guys, come on!), then I would have had trouble picking between the two.
“I go where Al goes, dances-with-bugs. And just so you know, if anything happens to her, I’ll pin you by your wings to a corkboard and use you for dart practice.”
Jeb and Alyssa had that typical best friends who like each other dynamic. They, of course, were hiding their feelings from each other until the last possible moment. They knew everything about each other, and they relied on each other a lot. They worked well together and were a great team. They had that sweet chemistry. The protectiveness, not wanting the other to get hurt. It was your typical romance.
‘I hate you,’ I say, the sentiment muffled against his heart, hoping to make it true.
‘And I love you,’ he answers without hesitation, voice resolved and raw as he holds me tighter so I can’t break away and react. ‘A crossroads, my beautiful princess, that was unavoidable—given our situations.'”
Morpheus and Alyssa, on the other hand, had the explosive side of a romance. They brought out the wild in each other, and I found that far more interesting. They were both sarcastic and daring. They mocked each other, and it was like a big game to them both. they were cut out of the same cloth. I personally found them way more compatible than Alyssa and Jeb.
“’I hate you.’
‘Only because of the way I make you feel.’
My fingernails eat into my palms. ‘Only because you bring out the worst in me.’
‘Oh no, luv. I bring out the life in you.'”
Alyssa was able to bring out the caring side of Morpheus, which you wouldn’t even think would exist. On the flip side, Morpheus brought out the life in Alyssa. Previously, I thought she was a bit muted in her personality, but with Morpheus, her true self shined through. I am definitely rooting for these two in the next book! And Alyssa…if you really want Jeb, i’ll be happy to take care of Morpheus for you!
“‘I would give up all my powers to have you in my arms. Your love is the only magic I need.'”
Splintered was better than I could have ever imagined. A wonderful spin on the story of Alice in Wonderland, Howard has written a beautiful and compelling novel that I can’t recommend enough!