Splintered by A.G. Howard

Posted December 16, 2017 by Amber in Reviews / 11 Comments



by A. G. Howard

Series: Splintered #1
Publisher: Amulet Books on January 1, 2013
Genre: Fairytales, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Target Age Group: Young Adult

Check out this book on Goodreads

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.



This book was a nightmare.

I’m going to break away from my usual review format here to tell you a little bit about why this HUGELY popular book, which gets 3.96 stars on Goodreads, made me desperately want to tear my hair out. Let’s start at the very beginning.

Alyssa is dreading a visit to her mother, an inpatient in the local asylum.  Local asylum… because we all have one!  We get a lot of back and forth and just in the beginning of the book we learn that Alyssa wears dreadlock hair extensions, is a senior in high school trusted to run a little thrift store boutique herself, steals money from a peer who comes in solely to tease her about her prom date, and sprains her ankle skateboarding.  Not in that order.  Alyssa spends her life being teased about Wonderland, but skates at a place called Underland, which was sort of named for her by her arch nemesis to further tease her about her mother’s psychotic obsession with Alice in Wonderland.  For a girl who is so unpopular that her only friends are her next door neighbors, the town seems obsessed with her.

This is all before Wonderland.

Once we finally get to the asylum, we see Alyssa’s mother dressed up like Alice in Wonderland.  Behind her is a cartoon nurse with a needle filled with sedative and a wicked grin.  By the end of this visit, mama dearest is being shot through with this stuff and stuffed in a straitjacket to be sent to a padded cell.  Because crazy mum freaked out and tried to kill herself after the nurse left her alone and completely unsupervised with her daughter.

I have so many issues with this asylum, y’all.

Lets start with straitjackets.  These horrible things aren’t used for the good of the patients – in the 1800s and early 1900s, they were used for torture and punishment.  Medically speaking, extended use of a straitjacket causes pooling of blood in the elbows and hands… any responsible medical facility wouldn’t use them period but even if they did… mommy dearest would not be still in one at the end of the week.  It’s just unethical.  To be honest, these things are relics of a misguided past and the imaginings of the worst horror films… they’re almost never used in modern mental hospitals.

This is just one complaint I have with this mental hospital.  The staff at this place are incredibly incompetent and reminds me strongly of a Victorian-era mental hospital.  Was that on purpose?  I don’t know.  But jumping right to ECT without any sign of psychotherapy is just wrong.  The portrayal of Alyssa’s mother as well… call her schizophrenic, but don’t call her a ‘psycho’.

There’s a bit at the end where the hospital calls to say “Oops!  We think the meds may have been making her crazy – our bad!”.  Seriously?


Moving on.

So Alyssa has no lost love for this woman.  She embarrasses her, makes her uncomfortable.  THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN Alyssa is her mother’s champion going down to Wonderland to stop the curse because she misses her mom so much.

For real?  Ten minutes ago you didn’t even want to visit the lady.

Once we get to Wonderland, so many people are so proud of Alyssa for accomplishing all her really difficult tasks!  Look at you, brave Wonderful girl!  You got away from the flowers by letting the other person get away from the flowers and rescue you!  You’re so brave!  You soaked up a whole ocean by having a sponge in your pocket you forgot about.  You’re so resourceful.


Now, since this book is circa 2013, a love triangle is still rather expected.  BUT THE LINES ARE SO CHEESY I WANT TO PUNCH THINGS.

For example:

“You’re the one who’s oblivious. Because there’s nothing brotherly about the way you make me feel.”

Obviously that one is a winner.

Then at one point, Jeb calls Morpheus a “son of a bug”… because hey!  Look!  A completely accurate and PG way to insult him!  It was so cheesy I stopped listening and wrote it down.  At least it’s out of their system, right?


“Son of a bug” was used at least twice more that I caught.  WHY.

I just… I can’t even, guys.  This was so painful, and SUCH a let down because the cover was so pretty, and it’s an Alice in Wonderland Story.  Howard’s world building is truly incredible – very Alice: Madness Returns.  But her characters are the ABSOLUTE WORST.

You just have to read all my comments while reading this on Goodreads to get the real gist.  I have so much disappointed hate for this book it is unreal.

I’m sorry.  I know everyone likes it.  Nope, nope. nope.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Writing: ★★
Pacing: 1/2
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★


Have you read this book or anything by this author?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Tell me all about your experience in the comments!

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11 responses to “Splintered by A.G. Howard

  1. Danielle

    I remember you talking about this book on Goodreads and how much you’d hated it ???. Sounds like your thoughts haven’t changed but your reactions are SOO funny!!

    • Amber

      Yeahhhh they are exactly the same lol. I had really high expectations, too, because all the reviews were really positive and the cover is amazing, and of course it’s Alice in Wonderland…. Boo.

  2. Wow, I’m so, so sorry you didn’t like this book haha – your review and thoughts on Goodreads certainly were a lot of fun to read, but I’m so sorry you lost a bit of your time with this one. I have to admit, even if I didn’t hate it as much as you did, I had a mixed opinion on it overall, as well… It was a strange read, I didn’t really connect with the characters and the world was so weird, I didn’t get all the hype either ahah.
    Great review 🙂

    • Amber

      To be fair, I could have DNF’d at any time. :P. But I’ve gone a bit crazy with DNF’ing this year and I’m trying to stop! XD

  3. Ok just your description was painful enough to make never want to be in the proximity of this book ever.
    UGHHHH. I’m so gald of gow far we’ve come with the mental health representation in books. I can’t believe how disrespectful and harmful this is. SERIOUSLY A STRAIGHT JACKET?! AND BAD REPRESENTATION OF MEDS?! CAN THIS MAKE ME MORE ANGRY??!
    Anyway your review was hilarious I laughed so hard ?. How were these books even a thinggg.

    • Amber

      The thing is, people really, really like it? I don’t know – maybe you have to be in the right state of mind or have no expectations? What makes me really nervous is I have RoseBlood on my shelf from a book box… and it’s another retelling… with a similarly gorgeous cover… only it’s Phantom of the Opera (which I also love). I’m terrified it’s going to be the same……..

  4. omg i’m sorry you hated it haha! i admit the characters aren’t the best and the beginning was soooo boring but the wonderland is AMAZING! i love how twisted and dark it is. but yeah, the characters and romance are pretty much a waste of time, paper, and ink.

    • Amber

      I can agree with you on that point, and I was so busy being grumpy I didn’t highlight it very well – the way she wrote Wonderland was INCREDIBLE. It was so dark and creepy, but completely Wonderland-ish. There were areas and moments I really loved. It was Alyssa and the boys that just annihilated the whole thing to ruination. Oh well!

  5. hahahha but this review was so entertaining to read, and it makes me regret owning the entire series, because now I don’t even know if I’ll get to it. (I mean to be honest, I haven’t been loving the author’s recent releases, so it’s not all because of this review). But I DID read Splintered in the past, and I didn’t even catch any of these things? I mean I was younger, and I know I definitely did have a problem with Jeb, so it wasn’t all perfect.

    Love this review even though the book caused you so much pain.

    • Amber

      I think if I was younger I’d’ve enjoyed it more! But I don’t blame for owning it because that cover?! So gorgeous. Probably one of my top ten covers ever.

      The pain is self-inflicted. XD Could’ve stopped at any time! I just kept waiting for things to get better…. :/