Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Monday, December 16, 2013 with 6 comments
Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered, book #2
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

To say that I was thoroughly impressed with Splintered would be an understatement.  Howard's writing is just so visual and completely stunning, and as soon as I put her debut down, I wanted the next book.  I gave my older sister a copy for her birthday because she's slightly obsessed with anything related to Alice in Wonderland, and she finally, finally read it last month.  And now she's harassing me to let her read my copy of Unhinged, even though it's an e-galley.  I hated having to tell her that she'd just have to wait until January 7th when I could order her a finished copy.  :(

This series has legions of fans, and it's really no wonder as to why that is.  The world-building is beyond amazing, and even though this sequel is set more in the real world than in Wonderland, parts of Wonderland are creeping into our world. And that includes Morpheus.  Alyssa has chosen to live her life out in the human world, but Morpheus isn't ready to let her go just yet.

To make matters worse, Alyssa's having a difficult go of it in our realm.  She's having visions and creating some pretty wicked art, even more macabre than the bug collages she'd been making prior to her adventures in Wonderland.  I think the events and interactions in this book take the creepy factor to a whole other level, but I'm not complaining.  Every flinch-inducing moment was worth it to see that one vision.  I've never wavered from Team Morpheus, but after this, I am even more firmly planted on his side of the dividing line.

For what it's worth, Jeb isn't absent from this sequel, despite the fact that Morpheus is featured prominently on the cover. Jeb plays just as big of a role in Unhinged as he did in Splintered, but I felt even less love for his character this time around.  Morpheus may have untoward motivations where Alyssa is concerned, but at least you know what to expect with him.  With Jeb, I feel like his art and his career will always be first, especially since he doesn't remember what happened last year.  And the fact that Alyssa's parents treat him differently now makes it all the harder to like his character.  But I do love the fact that they have an opinion and are even more involved in this sequel than in the first book. Alsyssa needs her family more than ever now, especially with everything she's discovering about herself and their past.

I can't say that I didn't see some of the plot developments coming to fruition chapters before they actually did, but expecting the twists and knowing when they're coming are two entirely different things.  So, even though I had an inkling of where the author was taking the story, the timing of everything, of all of these revelations, left me surprised more often than not.  Which just goes to show how impressive Howard's writing is.  She can surprise me time and again, even when I'm expecting it; she can make me fall for one of the most unlikable characters, despite his devious intentions; and she's breathed new life into Wonderland, warping it far beyond what I imagined as a child.

And again, I'm left hungering for the next installment.  Just wait till my sister reads this sequel and realizes she then has to wait a year for the next book like the rest of us!  Ha!  :D  Okay, that's sort of evil to wish that kind of torture on a loved one, but Howard is kind of evil for leaving us on the cliffhanger she did!

GIF it to me straight:
Shocking revelations all around, y'all.

Splintered (Splintered, #1)The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered, #1.5)Unhinged (Splintered, #2)

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.

Her debut YA fantasy, SPLINTERED, a dark Alice in Wonderland spinoff, is now available from Amulet Books. The sequel, UNHINGED, is due to launch January 2014.

Find Anita:

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  1. I really wouldn't mind Santa bringing me these books! I really want to read them.. and soon :) Great Review Jen! I had such a good giggle at your GIF's!

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

  2. I haven't read Splintered yet but I saw this cover for the first time yesterday and I absolutely fell in love with it.

  3. I'm with you, Team Morpheus! Jeb always rubbed me the wrong way, and like you said it seems like he is always putting something else ahead of Alyssa. When I finished the amazingness that was Splintered I really didn't want a sequel but I'm glad to see that Unhinged was a good addition and not just something to prolong the series. You've made me really curious! :)

  4. I've chosen not to read this series but you're making me question that decision. lol

  5. I really enjoyed Splintered and am excited to dive into this one. It's interesting that this book is more about the real world than Wonderland, but that the lines between the two are getting blurred. I have to say that I do like Jeb more than Morpheus though. Lol. Great review!

  6. I loved this sequel too. I don't like Jeb. I just don't. I didn't like him in Splintered and in Unhinged it was just worse for me. I really enjoy Howard's writing style--and I love the 90's references (like from The Crow). I still haven't read the novella. Really need to get around to that. Maybe it will help me understand/like Jeb? Great review Jen!


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