Sunday, 17 February 2013
Review: Splintered - A.G. Howard
Pages: N/A (My copy is an e-book and my iPad app is being a douche about page numbers, to put it eloquently)
Acquired: Sent via Netgalley
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
My review: The second I read the summary for Splintered I was completely intrigued. Retellings are so huge now and while the quality is a bit of a mixed bag, I knew this story had serious potential. Throw into the mix that Splintered is Howard's debut novel and I was even more impressed with how well she handled the story. If you're a fan of surreal contemporary fantasy or are looking for something that thinks a little outside of the box then don't hesitate to pick up Splintered; it's a gorgeous story.
The stand out element from Splintered is 100% Howard's incredible world-building. The Wonderland she creates is grotesque and, at times, horrific but, at the same time, it manages to be beautiful and reminiscent of the Wonderland I imagined as a child. The whole book has this wonderful nostalgic feel to it that makes Splintered feel like an instant classic.
Everybody's favourite characters from the original Wonderland stories are back in Splintered but they're just a little bit different, a little bit darker. I loved the dark side to Splintered and it puts a great spin on the classic stories. Well, the darkness in them isn't exactly subtle either but it definitely went over my head when I read them as a child. Reading Splintered definitely makes me want to dig out my old copy of Alice in Wonderland and reread it.
I've made no secret of the fact I'm not a fan of love triangles but I think it was very well-handled in Splintered. As Alyssa has two sides to her personality (her human side and her Wonderland side - this isn't a completely accurate description but you know what I mean) it's quite fitting that she is torn between two love interests, the mundane sweetheart, Jeb, and the enigmatic Morpheus, who is one of the most interesting and multi-faceted characters in the book.
A brilliant-executed retelling of a beloved classic; regardless of the fact this is a debut, this is one impressive book. A. G. Howard has burst onto the YA scene in a flourish of nightmarish landscapes and I have a feeling she's going to be around for a very long time to come.