Genre: Young Adult

Splintered by A. G. Howard is a dark, twisted, and young adult version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story follows a girl named Alyssa Gardner as she discovers more about her family’s history and inherits a strange gift. Alyssa must learn to trust her own instincts while she explores the mysterious and dangerous world of Wonderland.

Alyssa develops a special gift that allows her to hear the thoughts of bugs and plants. Even though she hides this ability, she believes that she will end up like her mother Alison and be placed in an institution. Alyssa’s family has a history of madness, starting with her great-great-great grandmother Alice Liddell. In order to cure this madness, Alyssa must do what Alice once did and travel down the rabbit hole. However, she’s not alone on her mission; she is accompanied by her crush Jeb. On their journey, they discover that the inhabitants of Wonderland are not what they seem and have secret agendas of their own.

Howard’s novel is a grotesque adaptation that shows what might have happened to Alice after her visit to Wonderland and the generations that would follow her. The story is modernized to fit with young adults of this time period such as the gothic descriptions, the interests of Alyssa, and the way the world is depicted. The world descriptions are beautiful and create a new and interesting realm for the reader to explore. This book doesn’t hold back on the showing aspect of storytelling. The world is brought to life, and the reader is able to visualize the different features of Howard’s Wonderland.

Alyssa is not a perfect character. She has out of the ordinary hobbies, and she has to deal with the madness that runs in her family, but in a sense, she is a normal teenager trying to deal with family issues while going on a bizarre adventure to discover herself. This allows her to be a more realistic character. However, Alyssa could have been a bit stronger and more independent sooner in the story. She relies on other characters to help her through her quests, and at times, she seems to need Jeb to make decisions for her. Jeb is extremely protective of Alyssa, and it can get slightly irritating to the reader when he’s calling the shots even though this is Alyssa’s journey. It did take a while before she was making decisions on her own, but it showed the struggles a teenager might have claiming his/her independence.

There are aspects of the story that can be confusing. One example is having all the female names in Alyssa’s family begin with the letter A: Alyssa, Alison, Alicia, Alice. During the first half of the story, it’s possible to mix characters up while trying to decipher which woman the author is speaking about.

Splintered is a book about a young girl growing up as a person and gaining her freedom from others. It reflects flaws in humans, such as being overprotective and indecisive, while telling an alternate story of Alice in Wonderland. This novel is worth reading, especially if readers have a love for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and want to see a modernized version of the tale.

My Rating: ★★★★

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