Sunday, February 3, 2013

ARC ReView of SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard

YA / Fantasy - 371 pages
Amulet Books (first published in 2013)

"I fell in love with this story of Alyssa Gardner, great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, Carroll's inspiration for Alice.  Alyssa is tortured by the voices of bugs and plants, her family's generations - old curse." I instantly wanted to read this book as soon as I read this quote.  Plus, the cover sold me almost just as much.  The choice for the story line is incredible.  It's creative, it's unique and it's something we can pick up and dive into knowing it will have a small sense of familiarity but that it will take us much farther.

Let me just say, first, that it has been a while since the first line of a book has completely grabbed me.  'Splintered' starts out with 'I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers.  Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quickly.'  It completely unveils the tone the book carries through its entirety.  It's creepy.  It makes you wonder.  It takes you places you wouldn't quite think of.  And most of all, it makes you feel for the main character.

It was refreshing to see the intricate network's of Alison's family and the trauma she had to face within her family's history. 'As a teenager, Alison's mom, Alicia, painted the Wonderland characters on every wall of her home, insisting that they were real and talked to her in dreams.  Years later, Alicia took a flying leap out of her second-story hospital room window to test her "wings," just a few hours after  giving birth to my mom.  She landed in a rosebush and broke her neck.' It was at this very moment that I was literally gripped to this book.  I was ready to discover the past of this family since the dawn of Alice in Wonderland.

This moment, also, makes available something real within our culture, our world.  Schizophrenia and being mentally distraught by the things that haunt us, that curse our families.  It's not just a fiction young adult novel, it also deals with some relevant issues that we can maybe consider to wonder about.  There is a quote that instantly falls in line with what I'm trying to say here. Those of us who have been conflicted have also been tempted to say 'I should be terrified.  I should be committed.'  In this book, though, the escape from reality offers a sort of consolation. 'But something about the netherling is sensual and exhilarating, more evocative than anything in the world has ever been.' And perhaps, it is this reason we would like to escape into Splintered.

So what is the scope of this book for Alison?  Where is A.G. Howard taking us?  Well it goes as follows:

"Lovely Alyssa."  The guy's lips purr that cockney accent I heard at the store. "You can cure your family. Use the key to bring your treasures into my world.  Fix Alice's mistakes, and break the curse.  Don't stop until you find me."

What mistakes did Alice make to bring such demise on her family line?  Well, it's this quest for the answers that will keep you gripped.  KrazyBookLady says something that I happen to agree with. "A. G. Howard stays true to the original, but this is a much darker Wonderland than Lewis Carroll ever dreamed of."  Well put!  This is exactly why I loved the book.

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