Splintered by A.G. Howard
Digital Audiobook narrated by Rebecca Gibel
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc. on January 1st 2013
Series: Splintered #1
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 371 pages or 12 hours, 46 minutes
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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?
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.
HIGH FIVES EVERYONE.
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.
“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.