|I wish my lipstick would look this good.|
Son of a Bug!
Splintered by A. G. Howard focuses on a dark remake of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Alyssa, great-great-great-granddaughter to Alice Liddell, fears that the Wonderland curse on her family will put her in a mental institution like her mother. She embarks on a journey back into Wonderland to amend the mess Alice left behind.
Howard creates a believable protagonist with Alyssa, but she didn’t truly find her strength and identity until later in the novel. However, the character flaws didn’t take away from her reliability or her likeableness, and Alyssa is constantly surrounded by Jeb or Morpheus, two independent and solid characters throughout the story. As the protagonist, Alyssa needed to be a little doubtful of herself in order to accept change and growth later, and that’s why I accepted her rare moments of “damsel in distress” symptoms.
The plot answered any question I had about Wonderland and morphed the setting into one that’s much more realistic. A smoking caterpillar and a tea party with drunk and high guests? Disney definitely got it wrong. The creation of the “true” forms of the Wonderland inhabitants was well-executed in their raw physical forms, infuriating mannerisms, and noble if not secret-intentions-based actions. The greatest change for me was the caterpillar’s metamorphosis because as a modern reader, it’s easy to forget that it’s been 75 years since Alice first entered Wonderland. All in all, the descriptions of the creatures were as vivid as the cover art.
The only downside I had with the novel were the instances where Alyssa, as the narrator, jumped from scene to scene within the same thought bubble while in Wonderland. Part of the jolting transitions was most likely referring back to the chaos that is Wonderland and the lure of its world, although it did lead me to reread sections and scenes to regroup what had happened in the span of three paragraphs to understand where Alyssa was now in the story. The annoyance jumped in when a character spoke who I assumed had left or was dismissed. It didn’t take away from the overall magic, because let’s face it, it’s presumed the reader may go a little mad with these characters.
Splintered ends on a lovely, could-be finished note, but with a sequel already on the shelves, it can be assumed that any questions left for the reader to guess will be answered in the next novel. This rendition of Carroll’s classic has been one of my favorites, just behind SyFy’s mini series Alice. For the first time in my remake-experience, the Mad Hatter is not used as Alice’s love interest, and it’s breathtakingly addicting because of it.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Butterflies
If you're interested, you can get the novel here.