ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

by A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Publisher

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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.


Wonderland has never seemed so evil. Really, Howard has taken a magical concept and put her spin on the prettiness of the Wonderland world -- making even the white rabbit seem grotesque and troublesome. There was much to be admired in Splintered but in the same instance there was something I didn't fully connect to and I think the romance may have been the culprit.

Starting with the good. Howard, without a doubt, captured the raw essence of Wonderland. Even though it's a much darker version (Disney, look out!), it still holds the spirit of the childhood tale. The characters, the dialogue, even the action while in Wonderland feel original and new and yet we've actual heard some of it before. Every character has their own way of speaking, and it's so easy to be immersed within the world.

The plot was intricately woven and incredibly hard to guess. I was shocked by each revelation and each new twist, especially since I've heard the tale of Alice all before. But Alyssa takes a journey that while sometimes replicates her ancestry, it's an entirely new adventure that's full of changes to the original text.

We're introduced to Jeb, Alyssa's childhood friend who also happens to be her neighbor. He cares for her in what she thinks a "brotherly" way, but we all know that'll get squashed eventually. Jeb's protectiveness of Alyssa is downright overbearing, and her other love interest, Morpheus, uses the fact to his advantage and to gain favor with Alyssa.

Jeb. Jeb. Jeb. I liked him. And then, well, I didn't. His character seemed to morph to fit Alyssa's needs, and they'd often converse about their feelings during the action. So in essence, we'd have brief romantic-drama interludes that just felt wrong and unnecessary  That being said, the book had a slow lagging pace, but it really picked up when Morpheus entered. His character was new, refreshing, oh so entertaining and also the catalyst for many exciting turns. But by the end, I was left wanting a little more out of his relationship with Alyssa.

Overall, I applaud Howard for capturing the spirit of Wonderland and putting her dark spin on the magical world, but the romance (love triangle-ness) really obstructed my connection to Alyssa who spent most of the time worrying about boys instead of her own sanity and her mother's.



  1. Becca,
    Lucky that you've read this book. Alice in Wonderland is one of my faves. I'm excited to read this book after reading your review :D


    1. You'll definitely like this then! I can't imagine anyone who's a fan of Alice in Wonderland disliking the book. It definitely pays homage to the world in a really good way :)

  2. Fab review! Like many, I've been coveting this cover for months. It's stunning! And once I got over the drooling (or took a break...) I read the synopsis and instantly was hooked. I haven't read the actual Alice in Wonderland books, but I've seen the many cartoon and live action versions. *side note: do you remember that wicked old show on the Disney Channel where Alice would daily go through the mirror to Wonderland? jw* I like that A.G. Howard created a darker version like the Depp' movie, yet took it one step forward. I can't figure out whether Wonderland exists or whether the curse is a mental disease. But I suspect that's a great deal of what this book is about. I'm kind of worried that the romantic element was lacking, but I still believe I'll be reading this one for all the other great reasons I should.

    1. I don't think I've seen the Disney Channel show, which I'm really surprised about (my TV Junkie status may now go into question). I must investigate! :) I think that the romance was lacking a little, BUT the book has such a good plot that it doesn't matter. Any book that I can't guess what's going to happen is an A plus, plus.

    2. I think I know the TV show you're talking about... she was older? I think... and each time she went through she dealt with different characters...? I was thinking about that the other day actually!

  3. Great review, I've been trynig to get my hands on this one for a while! I'm a huge Wonderland fan (as I child I always thought it was Allison Wonderland... not Alice In Wonderland. Needless to say, I've always felt a connection :)) This sounds so great and at least I'll have a heads up about the possible romance issues!

  4. I think I was able to overlook some of the wishy-washy romance stuff because of how well Howard handled Wonderland. I was so caught up in her slightly darker and twisted version, that I was blind to anything else happening! I definitely agree that Jeb was protective to a point of overbearingness, though!