My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First off, I’m a huge Lewis Carrol. The creativity and madness and mayhem and twaddle of his works attracts me like a maggot to a corpse. I adored Alice and Wonderland and Caterpillars and Card-soldiers and Red-Queens… So I’m always looking for similar chaos and baloney and ingenuity in books. I’ve found it.
This is the book I’ve been searching for, this is the retelling of that one classic novel(that I’ve actually read) that I’ve been seeking, the fairy tale whose characters begged me to take a deeper look at.
I’ve been drooling and dreaming ever since I got my first look at that cover(though they could have done with less of that red lipstick) and read the blurb. That green neon light and those flowers and bugs and vines captures the look that the blurb portrays in our minds. A mix of grotesque madness and mystique with a dish of creepy, hi9nting at magnificence and exquisiteness. And the novel within the covers does not disappoint in terms of story-telling, world-building, twisted-retelling, originality, creepiness, writing and plot-wise/twist-wise.
Ordinarily, Splintered would wormed into my favorites shelf and received full 5 stars. But it didn’t because of the characters. I did not care for most of them- but more on that later. Let me first drivel on about the pillar of awesome-cake that A. G. Howard and Splintered is.
The book Alyssa, a bug artist(wondering what that is? freaking genius) with disturbing secrets, a girl who hears the whispers of bugs and plants, and her friend and long-time crush, Jeb, as they descend into the beautiful, terrifying, wild and eerie world of Wonderland as they go on a quest to rid the Liddel bloodline of a curse that’s them for generations, ever since her great-great-great-grandmother, Alice Liddel. Here they get mixed up in the dangerous politics of Wonderland, guided by Alyssa’s forgotten childhood friend, Morpheus.
A. G. Howard has written this book with such delicacy, with such attention to every single trivial detail- because as it so happens, the one tiny piece of information turns out to be important every time. She has created a lush, descriptive world with so fine a texture. Her writing is redolent and lyrical but never delves into purple.
One line that is so simple but really caught my attention-
But winter is all I feel inside.
Usually, not much originality is expected from retellings. Yes we expect new features and twists and ends but all that is just piled on top of the original foundation. Ha! Not with this one. Whilst reading this book, you have to,in Morpheus’s words,“not think with your brain.”
The creature of Wonderland are, while not wonderful in the customary sense, in possession of their individual charm. The author’s take on the classic story make me go:
And I’m not a big fan of either animals or starry-eyed people- possibly because of my close resemblance to them.
Now the problems arise:
Alyssa and Jeb as characters- Alyssa started out wonderful, but two chapters in- it all goes to hell afterwards. Jen is sweet but way too overprotective. Gets into fight with Morpheus over the slightest things. Alyssa keeps wondering throughout the book if he’s still in love with the other girl, Taelor. Gets annoying very often. Always hides behind Jeb, thinks about hiding behind Jeb, dreams of getting rescued by Jeb- almost as if this book in not about finding her true self and breaking the curse but about her lovelife. Then there are all these useless characters- Jen, Taelor, whose main purpose in the book is bolstering or hampering Alyssa’s lovelife and not much else. I hate when authors bring in useless characters just to fill up the empty places in the protagonist’s life. Oh but I loved the Wonderland characters- mostly Morpheus. He isn’t an ideal hero. He’s manipulative, lying-cheating kind of person but I think that’s my type. And he’s just fabulous. And he has blue hair!!! However, there’s the slight glitch of him being a (view spoiler).
Then there’s the bloody love-triangle. Though one good thing is that albeit it’s not that obscure who she’s gonna end up with, the book keeps you second-guessing yourself.
And let’s see what else- the ending with all its twist and turns was going in the right direction. Just what I hoped but then someone supposedly dead comes back and stuff happens and suffice it to say, the ending did not please me. I mean, till the second last chapter I was so delighted and even at the beginning of the last chapter I was content. But then it was -bleh! whatever! of course that happened- i was just delusional enough to believe something untoward would happen.
The saving grace is that the end was rather ambiguous and it has the potential for a sequel. Let’s cross our fingers and wish on dandelions that it is as such.
Now for the worst part- we had so little of my favorite characters………..:(
And I just lurved every second of this new Wonderland.