Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Plot Summary:
If Alice Liddell did not fall down the Rabbit Hole, Alyssa, and her ancestors, would not have been cursed with madness. All of her life, Alyssa has been teased because of the tale her great-great-great-grandmother Alice told to Lewis Carroll. Although most people believe that the story is nonsense, what they don't know is that Alyssa can actually hear the chatter of flowers and insects just like her mother and that Wonderland is an actual place that has left its mark on all of the Alyssian descendents. Sadly, Alyssa's mother, Alison, has been institutionalized since "the Accident" that occurred when she was a little girl. Although Alyssa is terrified that she will inherit her mother's illness, Alyssa is starting to have strange visions that not only connect the giant moth from her past, but prove her mother isn't insane. In fact, this inherited insanity is actually a curse that can be broken, but, in order to break the curse, Alyssa must return to Wonderland and undo what her great-great-great-great grandmother did. Not knowing where to start, Alyssa must rely on the ramblings of her sick mother who is in danger of losing herself if Alice does not break this curse. Furthermore, Jeb, her best friend and the love of her life, ends up following her down the Rabbit Hole. Little does Alyssa know, but the visions she has been having are actual memories and Morpheus, the boy in her dreams, is very real as well. Every minute she spends in Wonderland, Alyssa is learning that the whimsical tale that her grandmother told isn't true at all. In fact, the further Alyssa and Jeb travel into Wonderland, more "truths" are turned upside down and they are one step closer to meeting the madness that rules Wonderland and that every character in the story is not whom they seem to be, nor do we know what their real intentions are. In this re-telling, readers will be haunted and thrilled by the dangers that await in Wonderland and if Alyssa can complete the task her predecessors were unable to do.  

Critical Evaluation:
I am beyond impressed with this re-telling of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." Not only does Howard manage to retain the mysteriousness of the original story, but reveal the ugly truth as to why Wonderland is no longer the Wonderland we, readers, all love. For those of us who have read the original story, Wonderland was an ideal where magic, fun, and silliness prevail. However, what we don't pick up, initially, is that Wonderland is actually a very hard place to live because it is filled with contradictions and problems that make the real world look like a better alternative. However, in Howard's version, it was Alice, herself, who willed herself to Wonderland only to find that her real wish was to return home, leaving the delicate balance of Wonderland in shambles. The central theme of this story revolves around choices and consequences. Alice was able to down the Rabbit Hole because she willed the Rabbit Hole to appear. Another example of choices is Alyssa's mother decision to be institutionalized to keep Alyssa safe. One thing about adulthood that bugs me the most id when parents keep very important secrets from their children. For Alyssa, had her mother told her what was going on things could have been different. However, her choice to keep the secret from Alyssa has cost her time, which she may never be able to get back. As for Alyssa, her choice of following Morpheus through the mirror has not only jeopardized her mother's sanity, but brought Jeb to Wonderland with her. However, her choice had a consequence and that is what brought Jeb through the Rabbit Hole as well. Alyssa is actually a very extraordinary girl not just because she can talk to bugs and flowers, but, unlike her predecessors, she is willing to end the curse by any means necessary. She is a very brave girl who goes through a tremendous amount of growth in one story that makes readers want to finish the story. Another aspect of this story, that will keep readers wanting more, is the romance. The best thing about this device is that it doesn't distract from the actual story, which is what I love! I am not a huge fan of mushy books, but the romance compliments the darkness, which can be rather creepy at times (i.e., Rabid White). All in all, this is a great debut and I will be patiently awaiting the next installment (yes...there is a sequel). 

Information about the Author:
According to her blog:
Anita Grace Howard lives in the Texas panhandle, and is most at home weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She’s inspired by all things flawed, utilizing the complex loveliness of human conditions and raw emotions to give her characters life, then turning their world upside down so the reader’s blood will race.

Married and mother of two teens (as well as surrogate mom to two Labrador retrievers), Anita divides her days between spending time with her family and plodding along or plotting on her next book.

When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys rollerblading, biking, snow skiing, gardening, and family vacations that at any given time might include an impromptu side trip to an 18th century graveyard or a condemned schoolhouse for photo ops.

Genre:
Teen Fantasy, Teen Romance


Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Splintered:
Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com

"Fans of dark fantasy, as well as of Carroll’s Alice in all her revisionings (especially Tim Burton’s), will find a lot to love in this compelling and imaginative novel."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Alyssa is one of the most unique protagonists I've come across in a while. Splintered is dark, twisted, entirely riveting, and a truly romantic tale."
USA Today

"Brilliant, because it is ambitious, inventive, and often surprising — a contemporary reworking of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’’ with a deep bow toward Tim Burton’s 2010 film version."
The Boston Globe

"It’s a deft, complex metamorphosis of this children’s fantasy made more enticing by competing romantic interests, a psychedelic setting, and more mad violence than its original."
Booklist

" Protagonist Alyssa...is an original. Howard's visual imagination is superior. The story's creepiness is intriguing as horror, and its hypnotic tone and setting, at the intersection of madness and creativity, should sweep readers down the rabbit hole."
Publishers Weekly

"While readers will delight in such recognizable scenes as Alyssa drinking from a bottle to shrink, the richly detailed scenes that stray from the original will entice the imagination. These adventures are indeed wonderful."
BookPage

"Attention to costume and setting render this a visually rich read..."
Kirkus Reviews

"Wonderland is filled with much that is not as wonderful as might be expected, and yet, it is in Wonderland that Alyssa accepts her true nature. The cover with its swirling tendrils and insects surrounding Alyssa will surely attract teen readers who will not disappointed with this magical, edgy tale."
Reading Today Online

"Creepy, descriptive read with a generous dollop of romance."
School Library Journal

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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