Unhinged

UnhingedTitle: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: January 7, 2014
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
3.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

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.


***


I am sad to report that Unhinged is suffering from middle book syndrome. I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as expected. To be fair though, Splintered  was one of my favorite books of 2013, so I was expecting something mind-blowing with Unhinged—and while it was good, it wasn’t great.

My main issue with this book stems from the fact that it all takes place in our world. Sure, there was plenty of magic and Morpheus, but who wants to be in the US when you can be in Wonderland? Certainly not me. Al was obligated to explain away a lot of things, there was all sorts of drama in the high school, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Once Al figured out who “the bad guy” was and we learned more about her mother’s past,  the story really started to pick up for me. I just found myself really enjoying it and I didn’t want to put it down. It was like everything I had been wanting from the story (for the most part) was finally starting to happen!

Despite Unhinged not living up to my expectations, I really, really loved the ending. It was that perfect Alice in Wonderland-level creepy that Howard captured in Splintered and I just know that we’re in for something special with the next book.

Even though I didn’t love Unhinged and it did not do justice as a Splintered sequel, I am so excited to see what the next book brings. If you loved Splintered, I think the series will still be great despite book 2. And if you haven’t read Splintered yet, I don’t even know how many times I’ve said it on my blog, but you need to. It was everything Tim Burton’s version wasn’t and even if it’s the only book you read in the series, it just cannot be missed.

 

Moth in the Mirror

Moth in the MirrorTitle: Moth in the Mirror
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1.5
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: October 22, 2013
Pages: 40
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

SYNOPSIS

An original ebook-only novella in the Splintered series, told from the points of view of both Jeb and Morpheus. Morpheus wants to know more about his rival for Alyssa's affections, so he digs into Jeb's memories of his time in Wonderland. But he may be surprised by what he finds.

This brand-new story and perspective from A.G. Howard's dark, magical world stands alone, but also provides a tantalizing glimpse of what's to come in Unhinged, the sequel to Splintered.


***

Splintered is probably my favorite retelling of all time, and I adored Morpheus, so I was excited to read “Moth in the Mirror.” There are certain novellas that you would really be missing out if you skipped, but Moth in the Mirror is not one of them.

Even though I really enjoyed reading this novella for the additional insights into Morpheus and Jeb, it just recounts several of the events from Splintered from Jeb’s perspective. While I wasn’t the biggest Jeb fan before this novella, I do like him more now that I understand his feelings for Al.

It was nice to revisit Howard’s version of Wonderland while waiting to read Unhinged, but if you’re not a big fan of novellas and don’t really want additional character insights, this is one you can skip.

Splintered

SplinteredTitle: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: January 1, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

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.


Splintered is a rather unique retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a very sinister feel to it, which is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Everything from the plot through to the characters was incredibly well done and A.G. Howard provides readers with enough imagery that it feels like we are traveling down the rabbit hole as well.

Instead of seeing Alice’s trip through Wonderland, Alyssa (one of her descendants), must return to Wonderland to fix everything Alice changed and free her family from a curse. The consequences of Alice’s actions were really interesting, as was having someone there to clean up her mess.

The characters we meet along the way were fascinating as well. Morpheus was definitely my favorite with his dark mysterious personality. He just exuded danger and sensuality and he was very manipulative. I am dying for some sort of follow-up to Splintered—even just a spin-off series because I loved Morpheus that much. Jeb, Alyssa’s best friend, also added a great deal to the story. As great as he was though, he paled into comparison to Morpheus.

Splintered is beautiful, enthralling, and captivating. Prepare to be swept away by A.G. Howard’s incredible imagination and writing style. If you are looking for an amazing fairy tale retelling, look no further.

 

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