Thursday, February 7, 2013

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Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Series: n/a, but here's hoping  =)
Publisher: AudioGO
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. 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.

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 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!

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

Favorite Quotes:

“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.” 


  1. Oh yay, Jen!! I'm so happy to hear you loved it. I picked it as my favorite read of 2012. I just fell in love with it, cover and all. Not everyone has to love the cover, I just did. :P Wow, I never even thought of getting the audiobook of this one... but I'm totally rethinking that now. A good narrator makes all the difference! Could it really be BETTER as an audiobook? Wow, I may have to get on that!! Hehe! Great review, Jen! :D

  2. The cover turned me off a little bit too, so you're not alone there. And I don't even know why, really. There is a character like Brandon Lee in The Crow??? Yes, please! I used to be obsessed with the movie! You may have swayed me to check this out some time. :)

  3. I really liked this book (and the cover!)
    And Heather @ Flyleaf Review is shocked, SHOCKED that I have never seen The Crow.
    It's on Netflix streaming. I'm going to try to get to it.

  4. I love bookish highs and glad that you enjoyed!
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. Gotdangit! I had opted not to request this on NetGalley. I don't know why, really. I wasn't a fan of the cover, either. I am not sure if I even really gave much attention to the synopsis or anything. But I keep seeing people loving the shit out of this book all over the internets now. I guess I need to go buy the thing and read it so I can (hopefully) participate in the love fest.

  6. I am with you on LOVING Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I read both books as a child and was completely enthralled. Everything I've read makes it seem like this story updates that world in fresh and exciting ways. I know this is going to sound both redundant and possibly shallow. But my big reservation here is the rumored love triangle. Should I just not worry about it. I'm being overly cautions, but my heart cannot take any more!

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  8. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this either, but I'm thinking I will give it a go.

  9. I had the opposite reaction, I was afraid this was going to be another mediocre book behind a beautiful cover. I am not the biggest fan of the original Alice in Wonderland, but I absolutely adored this retelling it is vivid and imaginative and I loved the characters. Morpheus and Jeb...sigh....It was just so good. It earned the five star rating on my blog as well. I am glad the audio was good!

  10. I love a good bookish high! I think I might actually do what you did, and go for the audiobook instead of my netgalley copy. I love a good narrator, and it sounds like Rebecca is one to watch. I know where my audible credit is going this month. Great review! :-)

  11. I love your love for this book!!! Splintered was so crazy, insane, and imaginative. It definitely did the original story justice, I think. I don't normally read audio books but now I'm curious about this one since you loved it so much!

  12. confession. I hate Alice in Wonderland. I haven't even watched the Tim burton version because I hated it that much as a child. I dont know why, maybe it was boring, or who knows. I just remember hating it.

    So I'm not sure if this book will be a good choice for me. I agree on the cover though. There is something about it that's a turn of. It makes me think of that song by Merril Bainbridge. something about her secret garden and how you can come to it. I always wondered if she was talking about her scary hairy vagina.

    glad you loved this though! lol.

    and really, it's just been ages since Ive said vagina on your blog, it was time!

  13. Wow. I have heard good things about this book, but never took the time to find out what it was about. I REALLY need to read this, between your high recommendation and the awesome trailer, I need to move it up.


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