Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem. To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush – the protective Jeb – with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be – not even Alyssa herself…”
Review: I’ll start with the good news. Splintered did an excellent job of giving the Carrollian version of Wonderland an inspired and fascinating makeover. I loved the fact that the parts of the story we all know well (such as the character of White Rabbit) diverge in the Splintered Wonderland (where White Rabbit is really Rabid White, a bag-of-bones man with antlers), with the explanation being that young Alice simply tried to fit what she saw in Wonderland into some very human perceptions. I also liked the general idea behind the story: that Alice’s original visit to Wonderland caused extensive damage, resulting in a curse upon future Liddell women and lasting until one of them willingly returns to Wonderland to set things right. The descriptions were excellent and it was fun to try and match my own understanding of Wonderland with this new version. Unfortunately, that is where the good news ends. The bad news is that I hated (and I mean HATED) the three main characters. Alyssa is a teeny bopper if ever I’ve read one. I don’t know how else to describe her other than dumb. Everything about her, from her clothing to her appearance to her unrequited (but *SPOILER ALERT* actually requited) love for one-dimensional Jeb felt contrived and so stereotypically Young Adult that I wanted to chuck this book across the room on multiple occasions. I felt A. G. Howard desperately trying, and failing, to draw me into a twisted love triangle: Morpheus is a psychopath, Jeb is a loser, and Alyssa is so bland that I was actually rooting for her to fail in her quest. I have absolutely no desire to pick up the remaining books in the series, but I was intrigued enough to try and figure out who Alyssa chooses in the end. Major spoiler alert ahead: APPARENTLY SHE DOESN’T CHOOSE. She lives out her human life with Jeb and then lives out her immortal life with Morpheus. What the actual fuck? SO STUPID. The only thing that stopped me from giving this book one star was that the Wonderland reimagining was really well done.