Author: A.G. Howard
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Series: n/a, but here's hoping =)
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
So, after listening to the Alice in Zombieland audiobook at the end of last year and discovering it wasn't a retelling of one of my favorite childhood stories in the least bit as I'd hoped, I was reluctant to read Splintered. For obvious reasons. And for not so obvious reasons. Like the fact that this cover kind of freaked me out a bit. I know practically everyone is enthralled with it's vividness, but even so, it was a little...shocking to me. It's so intense and vibrant. I don't know...I can't explain why it turned me off at first. I just know it did. But as I learned with my last audiobook experience, sometimes a really fantastic book is hiding behind an unusual cover...a cover that, after reading the book, really does capture the essence of the story.
I actually also received a copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley, but as you've read, I was a bit leery of working it into my review schedule. But then all of those fabulous reviews came rolling in and assuaged some of my doubts, and so I decided to give the audio a try. I'm sure sitting down to read this novel would have been great, but I loved the audio, and I don't regret going that route for a second. I just adore finding new narrators who make the listening experience every bit as exciting as it should be, and that's just what I discovered with this audiobook. Rebecca Gibel's narrative was pitch-perfect, no matter which character she was voicing. She's performed a few other young adult novels, but this is the first time I've actually come across her narration, though I will definitely be seeking it out in the future. Rebecca Gibel owned this narration, from her plucky representation of the heroine to the English accent she lent to the mysteriously sexy Morpheus.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...I loved the audio. But you want to know if the story was worth it, right? Trust me, friends, I would not recommend the audio if the story itself was not up to par. As far as retellings go, this one was phenomenal. Imagine a whole world as brilliant and stunning as that cover. I know, I know...it scared me off at first, but the way Wonderland is brought to life through the eyes of Alyssa is just...magical. The world-building in this book is so rich and captivating that I found myself listening to this book when I was supposed to be reading other things. If you were entranced by Tim Burton's version of Wonderland, you will love this one.
And, oh, how clever this author is, weaving the story the way she did! Maybe it was because I expected that I already knew how things would play out or maybe it's just because the author is a clever little minx, but I was surprised at nearly every turn. And my alliances changed just about as often. In a place full of magic such as this, I think it would be nearly impossible to truly know who to trust.
So, I guess it's a good thing that the spirited Alyssa has level-headed, slightly untrusting Jeb along for her adventure. He's good for comedic relief, too. The problem is, Morpheus is a sweet-talking moth-man who is the splitting image of Brandon Lee from The Crow. Morpheus acts as Alyssa's guide to Wonderland, much as the Caterpillar does in the original story, but I really liked the updates to this character, especially how central his role is in the story.
I found it really easy to relate to and connect with these more modern characters, but I also felt like the characters stayed somewhat true to their original roles, which I appreciated on every level. I can't believe I almost passed on this book, simply because I judged it on looks alone. I'm making a promise right now to try more books with covers that are out of my comfort zone. (Except those bodice rippers with half-naked peeps on the front. To each his own, but those will never be for me.)
Splintered left me with a bookish high, one I had to keep going, which is why I immediately started a different audiobook upon finishing this one...which is also why I'm just now reviewing it, even though I finished it a week ago. The conclusion of the story was a little open-ended, so I'm hoping the author has more of Alyssa's story to tell. A.G. Howard completely reinvented this world that I've come to love, and I want to see more of it. Prepare for Alice-sized tears until my demands are met!
“I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.”
“Tearing down the rest of the world won't make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That's what fills the emptiness. It's the only thing that can.”
“I hate you," I say, the sentiment muffled against his heart, hoping to make it true.
"And I love you," he answers without hesitation, voice resolved and raw as he holds me tighter so I can't break away and react. "A crossroads, my beautiful princess, that was unavoidable—given our situations.”
“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.”
“I go where Al goes, dances-with-bugs. And just so you know, if anything happens to her, I'll pin you by your wings to a corkboard and use you for dart practice.”
“No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest.”