Splintered (Splintered, #1)Title: Splintered
Series: Splintered #1
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: January 1st 2013, Amulet Books
Pages: 371 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES! A new favorite.
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.

GUYS. This book. You know, I try to review books eloquently and in an articulate manner but Splintered is one of those books where I can't help but use GIFs and all caps because I just loved it that freaking much. When I was offered to review this book, I immediately jumped at the chance as I've always been intrigued by this book because 1) That cover just makes all covers pale in comparison and b) THAT PREMISE. An Alice in Wonderland retelling?! YES PLEASE. I love Alice in Wonderland so much (and pretty covers but I digress) so since this book was released I've been wanting to read this. AND I FINALLY READ IT AND I LOVED IT EVEN MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD.

Anyway, when Splintered landed on my doorstep as if by magic and I saw how stunning it is (the font in the book is purple. This book is literally beautiful.) and the heaven's sang (okay, I'm getting slightly carried away but I just really love this), I sprinted through my current read and began Splintered. And I'll tell you, I fell in love from the very first page. From the very first page Splintered swept me up into it's enchanting, dark, fascinating world. The rich writing, lovable characters and incandescent plot combined together made this book one of the best books I've read this year - and perhaps ever. I can definitely say Splintered is a new favorite. It's one of those books that will have you turning the pages until your eyes are burning from exhaustion, one of those books that will have you shrieking and flailing and crying and gaining concerned looks from passersby. Splintered had me utterly captivated.

SO! Let's talk about all the things that I loved (which was basically everything. THIS BOOK CAN DO NO WRONG.).

Let's speak about my precious characters first!

Okay, so. I seriously adore Alyssa, who is our main character. She's quite vulnerable and sometimes afraid, she's terrified of ending up in an asylum like her mother (who wouldn't be?), she's snarky and she's innocent and people want to protect her because of the things she's had to go through with her mom being admitted, but she isn't afraid to put them in their place when she informs them that she can, in fact, take care of herself. I also may have fangirled throughout when Alyssa was determined to keep saving her mother, herself and their future descendants from the madness instead of fawning over boys like a lot of heroines I've read about.

Also, can I just say, Alyssa's relationship with her father was SO ADORABLE, in fact, just her general relationship with her parents were great. So many book characters don't get along with their parents and it was so refreshing seeing a change from  I love how real Alyssa seemed and she's definitely one of my new favorite heroines.

 I love how she isn't your standard gutsy, confident heroine. I love how she likes dressing up in flamboyant outfits and decorating her face with makeup but she also loved skateboarding and creating Gothic masterpieces made out of the bugs...she just had such character. I loved how she couldn't be defined by a stereotype. She wasn't strictly girly girl, or strictly a tomboy, or strictly into creative hobbies and not sporty hobbies...she was just a girl and I loved that about this book as I feel like in a lot of books I read, there's always these stereotypes. Alyssa can't fit into any kind of stereotype, she's unique and she just allows herself to be and I LOVE THAT.

Another thing I really liked was that Alyssa was innocent and hadn't experienced a lot of things that many teenagers supposedly have. She hasn't had her first kiss yet, she's still a virgin and shes never had a boyfriend and I love that the author included a character who isn't as experienced in romantic activities, as there are teenagers out there who are like Alyssa but they're never really written about and I'm glad that Alyssa was quite innocent and naive like that as she's a character that a few people - myself included - can relate to. So, thank you, A.G. Howard!

Then there are the two love interests - Jeb and Morpheus. Yes, there is a love triangle but it's done well, okay? If you want to know what team I'm on, it's team Jeb. I LOVE JEB SO MUCH. He's so protective of Alyssa and they've been best friends since they were kids and Alyssa is secretly in love with him and he's in love with her and I was just like:

I will admit that I do think at times he's slightly *too* protective but it's only because he loves Alyssa and cares about her with all his heart. He's so kind and caring and he always has everyone's best interests at heart and I'M JUST IN LOVE WITH JEB. Him and Alyssa just fit so well together, Jeb is protective and Alyssa is vulnerable and they have this cute banter and the chemistry between them is fantastic and THEY'RE MY NEW OTP, I LOVE THEM.

Then there is Morpheus. At first I was completely intrigued by him, he's an enthralling, mysterious figure and I, like Alyssa was enraptured by his existence, by those tattooed eyes and that electric blue hair. There's also the fact that Morpheus and Alyssa were childhood friends and she trusts him, he helped her find her footing among the twisted deception of Wonderland, he protected her, he taught her...she was his friend, his accomplice and his pupil. I, like Alyssa, had a soft spot for him and appreciated all he's done for her but I, also like Alyssa, wasn't sure where we stood once the story ended. I still don't know how I feel about Morpheus. He's manipulative, he's deceptive, he alters lies to sound like the truth...but there's still something about him that makes the reader feel like there's a good soul hidden beneath those blackened, electrifying eyes. There's something tender in the way he speaks to Alyssa, in the way which he holds her, something that shows how much he deeply cares for her and cherishes the childhood innocence she allowed him to have. And although I want to dislike Morpheus for his ulterior motives involving Alyssa...I'm intrigued by him and I even like him. I appreciate the fact that he's aware of Alyssa's capabilities and doesn't feel the need to save and protect her from every sign of danger. He believes in her, he's funny and sarcastic...he's a complex character and I'm looking forward to finding out more about him in the next book. I feel like I could fall in love with him BUT JUST STOP WITH THE MIND GAMES, MORPHEUS. GOSH.

Then there's the plot which was just indescribably amazing! Splintered contains the magic of a Gothic wonderland, spellbinding adventure and extraordinary occurrences. Everything about this book was just so exhilarating and I wasn't bored, not for a single moment. Not only is there an epic adventure that will leave you breathless, but there's plot twists. Major plot twists. At first I was confused because I just could not believe what I was reading...

And then reality sank in...

And I may have freaked out slightly and run around the house yelling WHAT IS THIS LIFE because deception and betrayal is made clear. My parents were slightly worried but, I'm good now. Kind of.

(Spoiler: No, not really)

Not only was the plot flawless, but the writing was utterly scrumptious, snatching me from the first word and holding me captive all the way through the book. The sentences the author strung together gave the book such an enchanting, divine quality, I can't quite explain it but it made me firmly conclude that A.G. Howard is going on my auto-buy authors list.

A.G. Howard has concocted a spellbinding, exhilarating story that takes place in the heart of the dark, deceptive landscape of Wonderland. With vivid, rich writing that weaved it's way through a vivacious tale, a morbidly fascinating setting and charming characters, Splintered by A.G. Howard will have you completely captivated. If you're looking for your new favorite book, READ THIS.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.”
“He is glory and deprecation—sunlight and shadows—the scuttle of a scorpion and the melody of a nightingale. The breath of the sea and the cannonade of a storm. Can you relay birdsong, or the sound of wind, or the scurry of a creature across the sand? For the proper names of netherlings are made up of the life forces defining them. Can you speak these things with your tongue?”  
“For that is the essence of a soul. Hopes and dreams and love.”