Review: Splintered by A.G Howard (down the rabid hole!!)

by - 6:25 PM

Author: A.G Howard
Date of Publication:
Series: Splintered #1
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Rating: ½

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.
Rabid hole? Well, no spoilers!!! Shhhh. It has been weeks since I finished this book and up to now, I am still not sure if I am coherent enough to write a review. But one thing is for sure: I absolutely loved this. The hype surrounding this book really gave justice to my reading experience. Splintered delivers a brilliant retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It has a quaint, rich world building, a stunning plot, a can-I-just-split-my-heart-in-two kind of romance and overall evocative.

That's the thing about our main character, Alyssa. She has this eerie senses of hearing insects and flowers murmur cryptic messages. Nothing made sense at first. Her mom is stuck in Asylum for "weary minds." She keeps hearing things. And there are glimpses of her childhood that seems so blurry but bizarre. Alyssa is a character that is on the gray mark. I definitely liked her, but not the like as in we-can-be-bffs kind of way. She's bright and determined. Praise the heavens for not having a whiny and stubborn main character here. Once she got pass the first stage of confusion, she got herself into the rabbit hole and finally tried to find a way to stop their family's curse.

When I got to the Wonderland setting, my mind instantly was blown away. The vividness and intricate description of Howard's version of Wonderland made me shiver in delight and excitement. It's dark and haunting, but also whimsical and enticing. I get to picture the Wonderland creatures and also the human beings in clear prospect. So if you're expecting something like this:
Better lay it down and start imagining things to go on a maddening series turn of events and prepare for a little jarring romance. There, I said it. The romance didn't made me buzzy, I felt conflicted about it. There's a love triangle and I don't take love triangles in a light way. I treat love triangles like it is a plague. I just don't like love triangles. It made me woozy and edgy. And this book wasn't an exception, which leads us to the love interests: Jeb and Morpheus.

Jeb is the mundane love interest. He was a little overbearing and that ticked me off in a wrong way. But he's realistic and the bestfriend of Alyssa. As much as I hate love triangles, the childhood/bestfriend relationship knocked something in me. Morpheus is literally a moth that can transform into a gorgeous person (and he's darn inconclusive.) You can never tell! Do I like him? Yes. Yes because he is:
He lifts three fingers to countdown. "Mysterious. Rebellious. Troubled. All those qualities women find irresistible."
It's a twirl of fondness and reservations when it comes to this book's characters. I just can't lay my finger on it. I find them entertaining. They had banters that I enjoyed and tension that got me reeling.
“Little blossom in peach and red
Trapping boys with your pretty head;
Tease and play, be coy and smart
For you will one day break his heart” 
Just when I thought I had everything figure out, a twist came spiraling down and I felt like I am back to square one. It made me look back to the past events and think. Hard. Mull over some scenes and try dissecting the details. Sounds frustrating, right? No, the book's twists knocked me with a feather but it surely thrilled me to no end. And this all comes down to one note: Seriously guys, READ SPLINTERED.

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  1. I’ve heard good things about this book and maybe if I’m out of my reading rut, I’ll try it. Although I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan (haven’t read, in fact) and read few retellings that didn’t quite fit, something about it that tells if might be good to pass up.

    1. How is your reading rut going? I hope to read more of you again soon ♥ Oooh, this one is good. If you haven't read Alice in Wonderland, this book still narrates the original tale for the readers to keep in track! I hope you read this soon, Mitchii!

  2. YES I really liked this book! And like you, Jeb kind of rubbed me the wrong way just because he was so overprotective. And Alyssa went after him anyways, which I guess is due to her childhood. BUT I LOVED WONDERLAND. It was so creepy :D

    1. YYESSS!! I love the setting so darn much! :D Morpheus > Jeb HAHA
      But Jeb is still okayyyy :)

  3. YEAH! SO glad that you liked this too Abby! Unfortunately, I didn't like it quite as much as you did, but I still found it to be wonderful. The setting was definitely my favorite aspect of the story too. Howards' reimagining of Wonderland was so weird and creepy in the best possible way, and I'm glad you liked it too. And I completely agree about Jeb. He was a bit too controlling for my tastes too, but, at the same time, I can't say I'm totally on board about shipping Morpheus and Alyssa quite yet.

    Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3 Looking forward to seeing what you think of Unhinged when you read it. :)

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    1. I love the characters as they are - without focusing much on the romance they have very likable personalities and their banters are very entertaining! I am so excited to read Unhinged soon. Maybe this Aug or Sept, I will! :D Thank you, Zoe!

  4. YES YES EVERYONE LISTEN TO ABBY AND READ SPLINTERED. *dances in giddy circles* I'm so glad you liked it. ^-^ It's honestly one of my favourite series of this year. Omg, Unhinged is just as good. Go! Go! Find it and eat it! I am so for Morpheus 1000%. I don't even care that he kind of is mean to Alyssa sometimes and nearly lets her die a lot. He's honest at least about lying and being manipulative. Jeb is just dang annoying. It's probably my favourite love triangle ever. XD

    1. SO STOKED to hear that Unhinged is as good as Splintered! I just hope that the romance won't overshadow the adventure of Unhinged. Mr. Moth is brutally honest, but he's also very endearing in a very peculiar and bizarre way. Not a fan of the love triangle, but it might get better on the last two books :D

  5. Oh gosh, like Cait, I absolutely adored this one too. It was so incredibly dark and magical. I usually hate love triangles too, but I'm firmly team Morpheus and not a fan of the bland Jeb either. His flirtatious sexy banter is brilliant. I can't wait for you to read Unhinged, I loved that one even more! Awesome review Abz <3

    1. Oh yeaaaah! *runs to the bookstore* I seriously want to read Unhinged now!!!! :D Ikr? Morpheus is hauntingly gorgeous and playful - I CAN NOOOT. Thank you, Kelly!

  6. I think I'm probably the only person left who hasn't read Splintered yet. And trust me, it's basically killing me, seeing all these rave reviews because I need more good retellings in my life! I love that this book still stuck with you even though you'd read it a while ago -- that really shows how memorable the story was... especially for a person with horrible book amnesia, like me. :P

    Alyssa sounds like an awesome heroine already! I know what you mean about those whiny and stubborn MCs. Practically every heroine in YA is stubborn, if a little whiny, and even though some people may see that as determination in the best kind of way, I'm starting to think it's getting old. I just want someone nice and smart, for once. I'm glad that she was one of those people who actually did something, instead of saying they'd do something, but not getting around to doing it in the end.

    Wonderland. Gosh, I've heard so much about the Wonderland in this book and how well it was done. I'm particularly curious about how the author made it so dark and twisted, yet still fun and whimsical at the same time, like you said. I really love disturbing worlds like these. :D But gaaah, leave it to the romance to kind of bog things down. :( I'm kind of a cynical hopeless romantic because I haven't had the best of experiences with them in YA, so I go into books expecting the worst from the romance, even though that's an awful habit. I hate love triangles as well, but at least you managed to fall in love with one of them. Usually I end up hating both love interests, lol. xD But you know what's worse than love triangles? INSTALOVE. So yeah, reaaaalllyyyy hoping that there wasn't instalove or insta-anything here. That would just kill the book for me.

    Anyway, love triangle aside, I'm still looking forward to reading this, and if the other reviews hadn't had me convinced already, yours definitely did. :D Thanks for such a lovely review, Abby!

  7. Hm...I HAVE THIS BOOK. I bought it for Christmas in paperback and it is so pretty! ^_^ The story looks awesome and I love the fact that it can have a eerie feeling. And Jeb really intrigues me! Also, WOOT for world-building! Fantastic review, love. I must say that I feel ashamed for not having read it yet. XD

    1. *pets your pretty pretty book* Sadly, I only have this in e-book although I might buy myself a trade paperback when I buy Unhinged (second book) because I just can't miss out collecting this trilogy! Wonderland is down right creepy and gothic - I really love it! Nah, you shouldn't be ashamed! I have books I haven't read yet LOL.

  8. "'Mysterious. Rebellious. Troubled. All those qualities women find irresistible.'"

    *snort* How right he is Abby! I definitely find troubled men irresistible, but only in fiction. How lucky for Morpheus (and me) that he is fictional then because I'm pretty sure I'm going to love him. I wanted to pick this one up the minute I saw that gorgeous cover but I failed to do so and got distracted by other things, I need to get to this series now! Gorgeous review:)

  9. So glad you liked this! I enjoyed this book a lot. The love triangle didn't bother me much, quite surprisingly, but really, who doesn't love Morpheus?! Hope you enjoy the next book just as much, although I missed the wonderland-isque feel there. Love the review and Alice in Wonderland gifs. xD

    Naban @ The Literary Oracle

  10. ooh, I'm glad you like this one!! I need to read it soon :) I remember you mentioning the love triangle, it sounds good! the plot and storyline overall sound amazing. Lovely review <3

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

  11. I still haven't picked up book 2 (I plan on marathoning once book 3 comes out), but this one was such an awesome book! I loved how different Wonderland was in this, and how graphic Howard made everything seem to be--I couldn't stop flipping pages!

    (Team Jeb, though. The Moth isn't my type of guy, haha!)

    Awesome review, Abby!

  12. Ooo - I am so glad you liked this one, Abby :D

    I really loved how incredible the world building was, and how incredibly Wonderland-esque it was. I think it takes real talent for an author to be able to create something THAT wild, and be able to pull it off. Even though I *did* get a little confused form time to time - I think that added to its amazingness. Me! being confused by a book - OH THE WONDER :D

    I know what you mean about Jeb, but one of my love interest weaknesses is the BFF thing. I just cannot get enough of it, and I always find myself asdfghjkl-ing when there is a best friend love interest.

    That being said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Morpheus. He's just darn sexy. There, I said it. I can never resist a sexy love interest, which made picking a team in this book very hard, haha XD

    I still haven't picked up Unhinged, even though I bought it the day it came out! Maybe I will binge read the series when Ensnared gets released :D

  13. I didn't like Jeb! Morpheus was better and I can't wait to see how it's going to turn out in the sequel. The dark setting from Wonderland was AMAZING :) I need to pick up Unhinged soon.


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