Splintered by A.G. Howard

 

Young AdultFantasy Splintered by A.G. HowardSplinteredA. G. Howard; Amulet Books 2013WorldCat Alyssa Gardner hears bugs and flowers talking. She doesn’t tell anyone, though, because her mother Alison is in a mental institution for delusions. All the women in their family have had mental problems. They are direct descendants of Alice Liddel, the little girl who went through the Looking Glass into Wonderland.

Her best friends live next door. Jeb just graduated from high school. Jenara, his sister, he, and Alyssa have been tight since they met. When the popular girl, Taelor, discovered Alyssa is Alice’s great-great-great granddaughter, she told everyone in school. Since then most of her classmates have teased her. Jeb has been in many a fight defending her.

Alison’s mental state is deteriorating. The medical staff is considering electro shock therapy. It’s the night of the prom and Jeb is taking Taelor, much to Alyssa’s dismay. An old friend of Alyssa’s appears. She hasn’t seen Morpheus since her mother went to the psychiatric hospital. He’s from Neverland and wants Alyssa to visit him. One of Alice’s direct family has to put right the things Alice messed up.

She is still angry with Jeb and wants to rescue her mother, so Alyssa accepts his invitation to go to Neverland. She is able to go through another mirror, then fall down a hole the same way Alice did all those years earlier. Neither Alyssa nor Morpheus expect the other visitor. Jeb comes in to talk with her before he leaves for the prom. He tries to rescue her but instead goes with her.

Alyssa and Jeb quickly realize that Morpheus not only needs their help but is a trickster. It’s not going to be easy to right the wrongs Alice left behind. Alyssa and Jeb learn more about her family and herself than she could have guessed. Now she has to hurry so she can rescue her mother before the shock therapy is started and she and Jeb can return home.

A.G. Howard has taken Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and given them a weird, almost macabre twist. Splintered is a fascinating, unsettling, ingenious novel. The cute, fluffy, plump bunny Disney created is now a walking skeleton character with horns named Rabid White. The politics between the Ivory Queen and the Red King are skewed since the Red Queen Alice met disappeared and the king remarried her insipid sister. The Hatter isn’t mad, although he has been in a trance sleep since Alice left his tea party. Morpheus turns into a moth at will, and was the Caterpillar Alice first met.

Howard has turned everything from the original stories on their sides. Now Alyssa must translate the original “Carrollisms” to learn what she must do in this young adult fantasy. If she doesn’t solve the riddles in Wonderland and undo what happened years before – like the ocean of tears Alice left behind – Alyssa and Jeb are stuck in Wonderland – or could even lose their lives. They are just discovering what is really between them and don’t want to lose.

Splintered is told in first person, present tense narrative by Alyssa. The reader sees all her thoughts as she puzzles out how to save Wonderland and her mother. At times the book drags as Jeb and Alyssa work their way through Wonderland it gets a bit confusing. Even so, Howard pulls the reader in to the intriguing world of Splintered – leaving the reader a bit shaken and well satisfied.

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