I knew from the first page that I was going to absolutely adore this book. I am a sucker for Alice in Wonderland retellings. Splintered while it stays true to the Lewis Carroll version in many ways incorporates a lot of new and original ideas that kept me interested and guessing throughout the novel. Every time a familiar character entered the story I was excited to see how Howard would turn the character on its head and make it her own. It made for a darker even more interesting Wonderland.
Alyssa was a great heroine. Ever since the 5th grade she has heard bugs and flowers speaking to her. Fearing she will become like her mother who is living in a mental institution. Alyssa tells no one about the voices and makes art collages of the bugs who will not stop speaking to her. I liked Alyssa’s determination and strength throughout the novel. She was willing to do anything to help her mother. And when her friend Jeb is dragged in to Wonderland she fights to keep him safe and protect him.
While Jeb and Alyssa were great in their own ways my favorite character was definitely the caterpillar! In the Carroll story Caterpillar was just a bug sitting on a mushroom smoking hookah. In Splintered Caterpillar has become a butterfly and is a sexy, somewhat shady man named Morpheus. He was easily my favorite character in the story. I liked all of his ulterior motives and plans and I never once doubted his loyalty to Alyssa although there may have been some….okay many reasons to.
Believe it or not I liked the romance (love triangle) in this book. Usually I am not a big fan of love triangles but Howard does a great job of making you love both Jeb and Morpheus. It was also a little reminiscent of a Julie Kagawa Iron Fey love triangle. While there may be two boys it was pretty obvious who Alyssa was going to choose (even if I wanted it to be different).
I also liked that this novel tackled a big issue, mental illness, which isn’t talked about enough even in “issue” YA contemporary novels. I liked how Howard incorporated what happens to a family when a parent has a mental illness and the effect it can have on the child, other parent, and those around her. Howard also incorporated abusive homes, and the loss of a parent while still keeping the novel rather light.
It is the mark of a good storyteller when a novel sticks with you and you can’t wait to read it again so you can return to that world. Splintered has done this to me! I can not wait to get my hands on a finished copy so that I can return to Wonderland right along with Alyssa (and see Morpheus again of course ^.~)
Thank you Netgalley and Amulet Books for allowing me to read an advanced readers copy of Splintered.