Unhinged by A.G. Howard was absolutely magical

Unhinged (Splintered, #2)
Title: Unhinged
Series: Splintered #2
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: January 7th 2014, Amulet Books
Pages: 387 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book to review. This does not affect my opinion of the book.
Rating: 4.5/5 cupcakes!
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Now, as many of you know, Splintered is one of the top books I've read this year and perhaps ever. The imagination the author possesses is incredible and reading the Splintered series is like diving headfirst into a kaleidoscope of magic, wonder and whimsicality. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to dive into Unhinged and I absolutely loved it. It was enthralling, addictive and sexy - what more could you ask for?

I adored Unhinged, perhaps not as much as Splintered, but I still devoured it with a voracious hunger. I started the book in the late morning/early afternoon and I was finished with it later that night. It is very rare for me to read a book in one day but whilst I was reading Unhinged, I could barely tear my eyes from the page. When you're reading about a world filled with beautiful chaos and exotic mayhem, reality just pales in comparison. Once again, A.G. Howard has crafted a wickedly brilliant novel that I wish I could live in. 

The writing in this book is achingly beautiful. There are a few authors who I would I could write like and A.G. Howard is definitely one of them! Her lyrical writing will captivate you and lure you into the unique, darkly fascinating world she's created and you will feel reality fall away in fractured shards as you're transported to a world where anything is possible.

I love the characters in this series. In the first book, Alyssa quickly made a place for herself on the list of my favourite female protagonists lists. She's quirky, she's sassy, she's unique to the YA world in the sense that she's not fearless and impulsive - she's cautious, she gets scared, she reacts to things in a way that make her feel real and relatable. However, I felt in this book she was far too reliant on Morpheus to save her and kept expecting him to be her knight, swooping in with that devious smile and saving her. I don't mind if a guy saves a girl in a book, but if it happens repeatedly, it makes me want to talk some sense into the heroine. Alyssa is a naive and vulnerable character but she showed what she was capable of as she completed the trials she was faced with in the first novel and I was waiting patiently for the spunky, independent side of Alyssa to emerge when she was in her human form, but it rarely did, which was disappointing. However, when she was in netherling form, there was a wild, powerful almost treacherous side to her that I hadn't seen in the previous book and it was interesting seeing that side to her. I still absolutely love her but I'm hoping in the following book she'll be more capable to defend herself instead of being so reliant on Morpheus. 

I once again, loved Jeb. He's such an incredible person, so loyal and always there for Alyssa and my heart just explodes every time he does something selfless for her or whispers another gentle phrase of love into her ear...I JUST LOVE HIM SO MUCH. 

Then there's Morpheus who I wasn't much of a fan of in the previous book. He's manipulative, has a way of twisting words in order to deceive his naive listeners, he's arrogant and cocky...but with each twisted grin and witty retort I found Morpheus slowly melting my heart. Especially towards the end when it became apparent that he wasn't as selfish and conniving as he wanted others to believe. In Unhinged, the boy with the blackened eyes and electric shock of vibrant hair made me fall in love.

The romance in this book is incredible. There is a love triangle but it's one that is masterfully written - my heart is torn in two directions of who I want Alyssa to end up with. I'm still leaning more towards Jeb as he's so devoted, loyal and completely in love with her whereas Morpheus is conniving and quite egotistical but he still deeply cares for Alyssa and they have glorious banter (which is as must in any relationship, right?!), in fact, it reminds me slightly of Skulduggery and Valkyrie's banter (from the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy) which I LOVE. Alyssa also has sizzling chemistry with both of them and I'M JUST SO TORN GAH. Also, that ending broke my heart. That misunderstanding and that kiss and I have too many emotions right now. I DON'T WANT MY SHIP TO SINK.

I also loved the relationship between Alyssa and her parents! It's so rare to see parents that are alive/or actually an active participant in their children's lives in YA books so it made my heart happy to see Alyssa's interaction with her parents, even though I did want to shake her to not argue so much with her mother over clothes and boys in the beginning...but it was realistic and it turned out okay in the end. 

The one thing I had a slight problem with was that Unhinged didn't have as much of a plot as Splintered did. Of course, it still had that addictive edge to it that made me unable to close the book for more than a few minutes at a time, but there wasn't as much happening in the book until the end, we were barely in Wonderland and I found that the romance overtook most of the book. I was so eager to dive back into the whimsical, slightly morbid madness and I was severely disappointed that most of the book was spent in the human realm. However, there were new environments explored and flashbacks of Wonderland that we got to see as well as a chilling atmosphere induced by the escaped netherlings. Unhinged was much more sinister and dark than Splintered and I loved it.

Unhinged was exquisitely stunning. With sensational writing, an incredibly well-written love triangle that tore my heart in two and made me cry an ocean of tears as well as a deliciously Gothic world filled with deception and madness and a sprinkling of snark, A.G. Howard has once again created a spectacular masterpiece that I fell completely in love with.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes

"We kiss under the stars, outside of the world's reach, and don't stop until we're both breathless."
"Seeing me surrounded by paper towels on the floor, Morpheus lifts his eyebrows. 'Building a nest?' he asks. 'There's no need to start acting like a bird simply because you have a propensity for flying.' 'Just...shut up.'"
"My jaw clamps tight as I consider whether it would be worth it to bite him. The one thing that stops me is I'm pretty sure he would like it." 
"'You didn't leave me,' I utter in disbelief. 'I thought you would leave me.' He releases my face and looks out the opposite window while rubbing his hand on his jeans to wipe off my mascara. 'Nonsense. I stayed for the car.'" 
"'What's your definition of real?' I look around the room, stopping at Jeb's sleeping form. "It's ever changing.'"  
"'Please, Morpheus,' I beg upon hearing Jeb stir in the background. 'Ah, but those delectable words,' Morpheus says with a provocative smirk, 'those are always in the fantasy.'I glare at him, 'You're unbelievable.''And that sentiment is reserved for the end.''Shut. Up.'"
"One does what one has to do, to protect what they love."
"...spellbound by a devil's almost kiss."