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."
What an imaginative, beautifully told story! It wasn't perfect, but it held me enthralled through a good deal of it. The cover is gorgeous and so perfect for the story. Splintered started out so strongly that I couldn't put it down. It sang to me, it enchanted me...clear up until about the half-way point, then it sort of slowed down. The descriptions of all the different landscapes and creatures in Wonderland were necessary, but kind of confusing and distracting from the plot. I would love to see this as a movie so I didn't have to struggle so hard to imagine them in my head. I'm still not sure I completely understood what went on in Wonderland. The end picked up and was very exciting.
The plot was fascinating and full of a dream-like quality. Alyssa was a wonderful main character. She was strong and loyal, funny and loving, yet she could also make stupid decisions and be kind of annoying. I don't like my main characters to be perfect little angels, I like them to have a bit of snark. Her parents and their situation were amazingly interesting, in fact the first part and all the set-up were my favorite part of the book. I also shared Alyssa's feelings about Morpheus - I hated him - I loved him - I hated him - I loved him. Jeb I just loved. He was so sweet and protective of her. I'm a little nervous to see where the author is going to take the three of them. I also loved the plot twists. Did. Not. See. Them. Coming.
For me, the first and last lines of the book perfectly show the mystical enchantment of Splintered .
First line of the book:
"I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers."
Last line of the book:
"I smile, then give him a kiss he’ll never forget, to replace all the ones he'll never remember."
Now, does this belong in the hands of a 6th grader? This is one of those books that I would like to have in a section that was inaccessible to the 6th graders. Unfortunately we don't have a section like that. I know some 6th graders who will read it and love it, but I don't necessarily agree with them reading it. Kind of in line the The Mortal Instruments series. However, I really liked it.
Areas of concern:
Not much bad language at all. I remember one *a* word.
A lot of violence.
Intense situations where loved ones are in grave danger.
Very intense kissing with 2 different boys/men.
Library Media Connection - Grades 7-12
School Library Journal - Grades 8+
**Appended on April 14, 2015. Yikes, I just read the review for the 3rd book of this trilogy and it said, "more gory than Gorey--and filled with unsettling sadism and borderline erotica". I ordered it for the library before I read that because you can't have the first 2 books in a trilogy and not have the 3rd, but be careful about letting your middle schooler start this series! ***