Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Splintered by A.G. Howard

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.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.” 

One of my goals for this 2016 was to do more college-related stuff outside of college, so I thought about making this Splintered inspired collage but… it sucks, I know.

Splintered is a beautiful book, and not just because of that amazing cover, but the story, the writing and the magical world the author has created is fantastical. This is not the cute and funny Wonderland from Carroll’s tale, this is deliciously creepy and dark full of new characters and elements that make of the story incredibly entertaining.

Unfortunately, as wonderful as that is, it can only go so far when you’ve got crappy main characters, and Alyssa and Jeb simply made the story terrible instead of better.

Alyssa hears the whispers of flowers and bugs, but with her mother in a mental asylum for the same delusions and with her grandmother dead after she jumped off a window, believing she could fly, she’s not yet ready to share this secret with anybody. In order to keep the vices at bay, Alyssa listens to music and kills all the bugs she can, using them as art to create incredibly magical landscapes that may or may not be more than just her imagination.

It’s only when, one day, talking with her mother, Alyssa discovers that the two of them hear the flowers say the exact same thing, leading her to believe it’s more than a mere delusion but rather a shared talent. When her mother explains how Wonderland is real and the voices they hear are part of a curse that requires for Alyssa to go down the rabbit hole and break it before her mother spends another day trapped and under medication.

As I said, the story was wonderful but the characters weren’t. It was hard to reconcile how a world could be so original and wonderful, when the characters were all shades of Young adult clichés.

Take Alyssa for example, she’s your typical “quirky” girl who is made fun off because her  grandmother inspired the original “Alice in Wonderland” story which is… really dumb, really. I mean, imagine you meet someone whose ancestor was the inspiration for something as classical as Alice in Wonderland, wouldn’t you think that’s kind of cool? But no, apparently in this story it’s something awful and shameful and everybody mocks Alyssa for it! It was so lame, merely an excuse for her to play “boo me” and show all mean girls, the biggest one being Taelor, Jeb’s super-rich, super-hot and of course, super bitchy girlfriend. Not to mention that the jokes and “insults” she complained so much about weren’t even bad!
Alyssa had some promise of being a decent character… when she wasn’t around Jeb. You just had to see her taking matters into her own hands and solving the riddles on her own, really instead of helping her Jeb was actually keeping her down. However, by the end of the novel she has become so accustomed to being saved by either Jeb or Morpheus (the other romantic interest) that she doesn’t even try anymore. It was frustrating, whenever faced with a problem Alyssa would say something like “This is up to me now.” Or “I won’t let anybody tell me what to do.” She would try ONCE, fail and start crying for somebody to come and save her and giving up on life…  not smart.

Jeb… uggg UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG fuck you, Jeb. Seriously just go fuck yourself and die in a whole of your own macho-controlling idiocy. This guy, this fucking guy is one of the worst scumbags I’ve had the misfortunate of reading about. He was Alyssa’s neighbour, childhood friend and crush, and the idiot that follows her into Wonderland and then blames her for it. He constantly tells her she’s dumb, guilt-tricks her into obeying him by accusing her of not trusting him, forces her to do things she doesn’t want to and basically just wants to keep Alyssa in a cage so she can never leave his side.
He’s Christian Grey level of shittiness, complete with commands on when to it and what.

He ruined this book for me and turned Alyssa into a pathetic mess thanks to his manipulations. It disturbed me to discover that Jeb is actually inspired in the author’s husband, what does that say about him?

Morpheus was cool, though he was far from being a saint. He was Alyssa’s guide to Wonderland and breaking the curse, though we soon find out he has other plans of his own.

This story would have been ten time better if it had been Taelor, Jeb’s girlfriend, the one to go to Wonderland instead of Jeb. Just imagine that, the two are enemies so they are obviously not happy to be stuck together, they’ll reluctantly work together when they see they have no other option that is until something happens (possibly an attack from Wonderland’s creatures, who knows?) that brings them closer together. They’ll start talking and realize they don’t dislike each other so much. After a while they’ll discuss what’s really standing between them: Jeb. After they share stories they’ll realize Jeb has been playing both of them (which he HAS btw), and that the things they disliked about each other were the lies Jeb fed them. So they’ll leave Wonderland like freaking Queens because they are awesome, go home and tell Jeb to go suck a bag of dicks.


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