Book Review Time: Splintered | A.G. Howard

12558285My Rating: ⭐  ⭐  ⭐  1/2

Book Details 

Series: Splintered (Book One)

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks

Publication Date: February 18, 2014

Goodreads Synopsis

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 onmore


Review

“No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest.”

I was really looking forward to Splintered, as I’ve read many positive reviews that claim it’s a satisfyingly dark adaptation of my favorite tale, Alice in Wonderland. And seeing as Alice in Wonderland has the skeleton to be far more disturbing and creepier than intended, I was more than excited to read this fresh new take on my favorite story.

Unfortunately, I was not as impressed with Splintered as I was hoping I would be.

The world-building is arguably the strongest aspect of the story. Howard relies heavily on visuals bursting with color and various oddities that scream “nonsense,” a staple of Wonderland and its upside down laws and inhabitants. Howard manages to capture that surreal aspect of the original tale we’ve come to know and love by unapologetically creating her strange and unsettling descriptions of the setting and the dark, twisted versions of Wonderland’s inhabitants. Rather than having her protagonist be frequently wowed and cowed by her surroundings, Allie takes the nonsense in stride (for the most part), behaving as if all that is happening is simultaneously abnormal and normal.

My disappointment with this book does not lie within the world-building/setting, nor does it even lie with the plot (though it could have been executed a bit better in the middle). My issue with Splintered rests with the characters, all of which I had a very hard time relating to.

Though I understood her motivations, I was having a hard time liking Alyssa simply as a character. I appreciated how well she absorbed her current situation and set her mind to rectifying the issue at hand, no matter the cost. She is a very caring and brave individual, but she is also extremely infuriating in her indecisiveness concerning two love interests as well as her childish and naive reactions to matters that are far less important than saving her mother and protecting her family.

As for the guys in the story, I couldn’t bring myself to see their appeal. Jeb, Alyssa’s long-time friend, is very supportive and protective of Alyssa, but also far too possessive and, at times chauvinistic, for my tastes. And Morpheus, Alyssa’s other mysterious long-time friend, is charming and (if I had to choose) possibly my favorite character out of them all, but too many times I found him to be far too calculating and self-centered to be likable or even trustworthy. So, I had a very hard time understanding why it was so easy for Alyssa to forgive him when he so clearly is not an ideal companion.

That being said, I enjoyed this story even though I was at odds with the characters. As a whole, Splintered is a fun, fairly fast-paced journey into a twisted version of Wonderland that anyone could appreciate. I’m just hoping that in the next book I’ll become a bit more fond of the characters, especially now that I’m fully aware of their personalities and that they obviously have room to grow and evolve in their new reality. And so, I’m looking forward to that, and I’m also really looking forward to returning to Howard’s creepy, fairly unsettling version of Wonderland in the next installment.

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21 thoughts on “Book Review Time: Splintered | A.G. Howard

  1. As far as the characters go, I love Morpheus! Especially when you learn more about him in the later two books. In contrast I came to hate Jeb more and more as the books went by. As you said Alyssa can be harder to relate to but my love for the series definitely is centered around the setting and the world-building. Throughout the entirety of the 3 books that always is the highlight. I would say that Alyssa gets a bit easier to understand as time goes on, but I will admit that she can be a bit frustrating. (Morpheus brings out the best in her)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear that Morpheus is considerably the best character. I thought I was being mean lol. I want to love him, so it’s nice to know that his development gets better from here on out! Poor Jeb. He’s just not a very good character is he?? Also, thanks for letting me know Alyssa gets better later on too! I have high hopes for her. And the setting is wonderful. Howard definitely did a great job with that 😀 Thanks, Tiana!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t mind Jeb so much if he didn’t play such important roles in the next two books (roles that he should have never played) and the fact that he just makes the stupidest decisions. I feel bad about it but I just get so frustrated with him all the time. 🙃

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 😂😂 Ah I’ll be looking forward to this. Seems like I’m in for quite the ride. It’s always wondeful when some characters are given the spotlight they don’t deserve 🙃

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review for this book Azia, I’m sorry this one wasn’t as good as you’d hoped it would be, especially given your expectations for it were so high after seeing some amazing reviews. I LOVED Splintered when I first read it but that was a good few years ago. It’s a series on my re-read list and I’m wondering if when I do get around to it I’ll be rating it lower as well. I don’t remember being as impressed by the characters as I have been with other books I read, I wasn’t a fan of Jeb at all really, and now I’m wondering if the only thing I enjoyed was the setting.
    I do agree with everything you said about A.G. Howard’s world-building in this book, it was beyond brilliant and I love Alice in Wonderland retellings so in that aspect this book was perfect!
    I hope you enjoy the second book a little more Azia! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Beth! ❤ And that's okay! I think I would have liked this one a bit more if I didn't go in with such high expectations. It's a pretty enjoyable book regardless of the characters, so I'm holding out hope for the next couple of books 😀
      If you do manage to re-read it, I hope you still love it just as much. It sucks when you don't love a book the second time around :/
      The setting is so strong, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the only thing you loved about it. I'm no fan of Jeb but Morpheus has his bright spots and the story is pretty interesting!
      I have faith in this series! I hope to get to the next few books sometime this summer 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right! ❤ Yeah there are an odd few books like there, where you have high expectations and it just becomes impossible for a book to live up to them. I've had a few like that as well. Well I wasn't much of a fan of the second book but I thought the third was brilliant.
        Yeah it sucks, but I guess some books just can't stand the test of time, I feel like Splintered may be one of them.
        Oh yeah the story was interesting, but part of me thinks it was interesting to me because of the way it connected to the original Alice in Wonderland tale you know?
        That's good to hear, hopefully the next books will prove your faith was well placed! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It seems the third is a lot of people’s favorite! I won’t let my expectations get the best of me this time, but I’m still looking forward to reading it 😀
        Yeah, that might be true. Our love of Alice might be our bias LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LOL. Actually, yes, please do haha XD Might help me get through the next couple without holding too much prejudice
        Yeah, but we can’t help it! Alice is just so awesome 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt the same way about this book! I’m still debating wether to continue the series, I’m hoping it will get better!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Azia!! It sucks that this one had such fantastic world-building but then fell flat for you in the character department. That’s one thing I always dread in fantasy because whenever you have one over the other and they aren’t balanced it can turn a book you would otherwise completely love into something that was just okay. I do think it’s neat how A.G. Howard seems to take retellings and make a character in the book be one that was the real life inspiration for the original tale. She did that same thing with RoseBlood and Phantom of the Opera and it was incredibly well done. Anyway! I so hope you end up enjoying the second book more and that the characters have more development. It seems like they have the potential to be great characters. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Melissa!! ❤ And that's exactly it. It's wonderful that she nailed the world-building, seeing as it's one of the most important elements in fantasy, but it was so disappointing the characters were lacking. Characters are what can make a story, no matter the genre. To have both elements done well in fantasy is always a blessing, but having one element stronger than the other can really reduce the impact of the story. But that's all right. I have faith the next few books will be much better! And I love how she uses original tales as actual references in her books too! It makes it so much more interesting 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! 😁 I completely agree, characters tend to make a story more than anything. Even in fantasy where world building is huge too. I think fantasy is all about balance. Where in contemporaries you mainly have to focus on the just the characters in fantasy you have so many different elements that it’s a matter of creating that balance so one doesn’t overpower the other. It really does! It puts a unique twist on her retellings in my opinion. Though I’ve only read one at the moment. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree, fantasy is definitely about balance. To have both intriguing characters and an expertly crafted world is to have a great story, usually. And yes! Contemporaries are usually character-based. Although, at times, it helps to have strong world-building, especially if the story takes place in an area not too many people know about 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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