I finished Splintered almost a month ago at the time of writing this review, but as I searched the pages for a quote to share with y'all, I found myself falling in love with A.G. Howard's debut novel all over again: with the ethereal setting, with the beautiful writing style and imagery conjured while reading snippets, and with the amazing characters. I went on a journey while reading Splintered, and it is one of the few books that I immediately went online to pre-order once I finished. Splintered took me to Wonderland - a different Wonderland than I imagined - and truth be told, I left a part of my heart there.
Somewhere between the first and last page, I fell in love: with Alyssa, with Jeb, with Morpheus, and with the Wonderland A.G. Howard has imagined. Picture, if you will, a scared Alice who came back from Wonderland, and got some of the important details wrong. This isn't the Wonderland Alyssa's classmates tease her about. This is Wonderland turned inside out, painted entirely different in its macabre, vivid reality than in the book written around Alyssa's ancestor's stories. Everything Alyssa thought she knew is wrong or false - more horrifying than she imagined, darker, more lush and sinister, or seductive. Splintered's world-building is fabulous and flawless - a sensual place I never wanted to leave.
If asked to choose a favorite character, I'm not sure I could, with any certainty. The characters are all stand-outs - terrifically fleshed-out people who feel real in their complexities. Alyssa is independent, and her fears of ending up like her mother are so genuine; she's easily a sympathetic character. Jeb is swoon-worthy by definition (mine at least): protective, a loyal friend, sensitive, honest; his disbelief at finding himself in Wonderland translates well to the reader, and I wish we could have seen a few things from his point of view! I fell immediately for Jeb - we're talking can't-eat-can't-sleep, head-over-heels, drawing-his-name-in-my-notebook love. But there's also Morpheus. Oh, Morpheus: sly, sexy, tricksy, mischevious...with hos own way of caring. I won't say there's a love triangle to Splintered, but there are definitely two amazing boys - the kind I wish were real!
If you're looking for a thrilling, un-put-downable novel, then you must read Splintered. I didn't know whether to clap in geeky joy or gasp in fright throughout this book. Through Alyssa's tests, and her journey of self-discovery, as well as unraveling her family's secrets, I felt like I was right there with her, walking just a step behind her, shadowing her journey. I loved the familiar Wonderland elements, but I also loved how A.G. Howard continually took my breath away with one thing meaning another, and each new plot twist. A very few I saw coming, but mostly, I sat amazed, turning the pages as fast as I could. I cheered for Alyssa when she succeeded, and wanted to jump into Splintered to help her at times. But it was her quest, her mission, and it warms my heart that she did it all out of love for her mother and father, and in the process, learned who she really was.
The bottom line: read this book. I don't think you'll regret it. Even if you aren't an ALICE fan, there's a heart-pounding adventure, and an unforgettable romance, not to mention a story I'll be thinking about for a long, long time.
Also? I DARE you to read Splintered and NOT picture Sebastian Stan as Morpheus. ;)