Alice in Wonderland: a story of madness, chaos, colorful creatures, and upside down logic. Lewis Carroll’s tale has launched countless movies and books that center on a girl struggling to make sense of a world that mirrors insanity. A.G. Howard’s debut novel, Splintered, which was published by Amulet Books, takes Carroll’s story and fast forwards to present day.
Alyssa Gardner has a year left before she graduates high school, has two good friends, a father that cares, an artistic hobby, and a cursed lineage. Alyssa is a descendant of Alice Liddell and that damned book has ruined her life. Not only does every woman in her family go mad, but Alyssa has been hearing bugs and plants talk since she hit puberty. She knows it’s only a matter of time before she ends up in the asylum with her mother. Despite the craziness in her family, Alyssa tries to keep her life together. Her neighbor, and crush, Jeb, is one of the only things that keeps Al from losing what’s left of her mind.
During her weekly visit to see her mother, Alyssa realizes that not only do they both hear a fly talking, but that they hear it saying the same thing. Recognizing that her mother isn’t actually insane, Alyssa is determined to discover what, or who, has been plaguing her family for generations. With the threat of a broken family hanging over her head, Alyssa decides to go back to Wonderland and undo whatever Alice did to cause the curse. What she doesn’t count on is Jeb riding down the rabbit hole with her. Not only is she struggling to save her family, but now she’s torn between the sense and security she gets from Jeb, and the delicious madness that she gets from Morpheus, her Wonderland guide. Alyssa is comprised of both light and dark, sense and madness, and the two sides of her personality are at war. She must fight to balance herself in order to set things right again.
This book is beautifully chaotic. Howard takes a classic story and, instead of re-imagining it, simply adds to it. The character of Alyssa is both refreshing and familiar. She’s fighting against the stigma of her family, desperate to find her own way. There are many issues that Alyssa has to endure as a typical teenager, along with the crazy problems in Wonderland. However, Morpheus is one of the shining gems in this tale. The stark contrast between his conniving mystery and his childlike love for Alyssa makes for some intense scenes. Howard created something enchanting and darkly alluring with this story. You’ll never look at Alice in Wonderland the same again.
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