Series: Splintered #2
Also in this series: Splintered
Published by Abrams, Amulet Books on 12/17/13
Genres: Fairy Tales Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Retellings, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Some talk of sex, but none shown)
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.
This second book in the Splintered Trilogy once again proved how incredibly imaginative Howard is. I just love her twisted take on Wonderland and the creatures in it!
What I enjoyed:
- Wonderland creatures. As in Splintered, the best things about this book are all the nods to Wonderland. While Alyssa never actually makes it to Wonderland in this book (see my negatives below), Wonderland does come to her. Of course, you can tell from the cover that Morpheus makes an appearance. He needs Alyssa, and he’s not going to leave her alone until she agrees to help him. At first, Alyssa assumes that Morpheus is the only Wonderland creature haunting her, but she soon finds that there are LOTS more surprises in store for her. Crazy, demonic clowns, dangerous trees, nightmare creatures who leave slime on the walls – there are plenty of Wonderland characters to torment her! I don’t want to say too much about what actually ends up happening, but I will say that it gets good!!
- The last quarter of the book. Things really picked up in the last quarter or so of the book, and I was LOVING it! We not only get lots of creepy Wonderland action, but lots of secrets are revealed about Alyssa’s family. Once we start heading toward the climax of the book, the action doesn’t let up and the mysteries start peeling off in layers – I can’t wait to see where Howard will go with all of this in Ensnared!
- Wanted more Wonderland! The main thing that made this book a four star read instead of a five star read for me was the fact that the whole book took place in Alyssa’s world instead of Wonderland – I guess I just wanted more! From almost the beginning of the book, it seems like Alyssa is going to head back to Wonderland, but she never makes it there. Like I said in my positives, there are plenty of Wonderland elements that come to Alyssa’s world, so it wasn’t completely lacking. But I did start to get a bit bored mid-book somewhere, and it wasn’t until things started to pick up (and get weird) toward the end that I really loved it again.
- Jeb vs. Morpheus. I think I’m one of the few people on the planet who isn’t in love with Morpheus. I much prefer Jeb. I know that I’m supposed to see Morpheus as sort of a magical version of the bad boy with a heart of gold, but his underhandedness and lying just gets to me and I can never quite root for him (I know, I know – you all hate me right now!). So, the love triangle doesn’t quite work for me in these books. Howard did something in this book that gives a sort of “make everybody happy” sort of solution to the love triangle (can’t say what, of course), and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. I’ll have to wait to see what becomes of it all in Ensnared.
While I do think that Unhinged felt a bit like a middle book (especially in the middle!), I still really loved it. And it left me desperate for Ensnared!! I give this book 4/5 stars.
About the Author
A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
SPLINTERED & UNHINGED, books 1 & 2 of her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Book 3, ENSNARED, launches 2015.