Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

"There's so much more to the story than people even know..."
--A.G. Howard, Splintered

Genre: YA Fairy Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books, 371 pages
Publication Date: January 1st, 2013
Source: Library (will probably buy on next Amazon binge)

Goodreads Description

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.

My Thoughts

Call me Alice. I feel down the rabbit hole with this book. I've used that phrase with other books and I was so hoping I would fall in love with this book and be able to use it. And I so totally did. How very fitting, right? This book is magical, enchanting, otherwordly and to a point, amazing. I was transported to Howard's Wonderland immediately. Our girl Alyssa Gardner has a voice so unique and distinct that she grabs your attention immediately...might have something to do with the fact she introduces us to her art of dead bugs. Her choice of medium rationale? It is the best way to stop the voices...for real. Wickedly dark and completely mesmerizing.

So Splintered takes us to a version of Alice in Wonderland but our main character, Alyssa, is the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Lidell, the little girl who told Lewis Carroll about her trip to Wonderland. Thus inspiring his book. I LOVED this take on Carroll's inspiration. That is was based off of a real child's stories, oh my gosh, so freakin' cool. Ever since Alice, all of Alyssa's female relatives have gone insane, including her mother who is currently in a psychiatric hospital. Alyssa is terrified of ending up like her mother because she already hears the bugs and flowers talking, but she is determined to try and live a normal life. Her normal life consists of her next-door neighbor and longtime crush Jeb. Grunged out and reformed bad boy. Read: Sexy and dark with a heart of gold. I'll get on to him in a moment. Back to Alyssa. This girl is strong. She deals with so much darkness in her life and she wants so badly to just rise above it. She has been teased mercilessly her whole life for her family's history and just wants to be left alone and do her own thing. Won't lie. I was never into grunge or hot topic-esque clothes in high school. This girl made me re-think my style choices. Her wardrobe of choice all come from the vintage store she works at and she just seems like such a cool chic. The goth-ish make-up, platform boots, crazy outfits. Love times a million! AND she skateboards. I wanna be this girl's friend and have her do a makeover on me. Just for kicks. She proves herself throughout the entire novel. She is fierce and strong and completely loyal to her cause. She makes mistakes and questions herself along the way but she is relatable in that way. Her characters felt real. Honest and flawed and far from perfect, but that's what made me love her. She is a fantastic heroine in this journey to Wonderland.

SO, back to the story. Some stuff happens and Alyssa decides to try and break her family's curse, go down the rabbit hole...literally...and put things right. She is coaxed there by a familiar voice in her head that she just can't quite place, and down the rabbit hole she goes. Jeb ends up there with her and they set off on their adventure. Wonderland starts off just as Carroll and Disney imagined it. I LOVED that the story had a fluid flow to the original story. Not everything is the same, that's for sure, but the original tale is there. It made me want to go read both of Carroll's books (again!) just so compare stories. So Alyssa and Jeb finds the man behind the voice, Alyssa's guide to Wonderland...Morpheus. Turns out Morpheus is Alyssa's long-lost friend who guided her and taught her all about Wonderland when she was a small child. They grew up together. *tear*

So many trials occur for Alyssa to try and break the curse but Wonderland is never that straight forward. Just like Carroll's Wonderland, nothing is as it seems and nobody is who they say they are. You'll have your head scratched raw with all the plot twists and loop holes. It is absolutely fantastic. As aggravating as Wonderland may be, that is exactly what makes it so charming. Find the road between logical and illogical, right? :)

On to the boys. Jeb. Not gonna lie. Not a Jeb fan off the bat. Clearly Alyssa is in love with him but he's dating Taelor...the queen bee who has made Alyssa's life absolute hell. Who also taunts her just to be mean. Oh I wanted to smack her! What a yatch bag! And Jeb, this supposed best friend and super "nice" guy is dating her? Uh, what?! I could not forgive him for this for the first third of the book. I knew an explanation would be coming but based on my own life experiences I just couldn't justify his actions. It made no sense this guy would date somebody like that (yes we get elaboration but still!). Morpheus. Dark, mysterious, arrogant, sexy. Read: Rebel without a cause and you don't care what it is. Hott. Man oh man did I want Morpheus to swoop in under Jeb and just sweep Alyssa off her feet. The tension is definitely there and, typical in typical Wonderland fashion, ya never know where his head is at. He is a constant contradiction. But I still adored him. He may have been sneaky but ya know what? He adores Alyssa. He has a twisted way of expressing it but he grew up in is he supposed to know any different? While it sounds like I am stating a negative about the book, I'm going just the opposite. I loved that both these male interests had character flaws. Like Alyssa, it made them real. Made the whole romantic situation seem so much for real life. Nobody is perfect. I liked rooting for both boys at one point or another and having the deciding factors come down to communication between the characters and talking out their issues.

The entire journey through Wonderland was amazing. The writing is fantastic. I feel like the reader takes their own personal journey to Wonderland while reading. The landscape is right there in front of you. The exploration of loyalty and love are beautiful in this story. The idea of undertaking a task to the depths of the Earth and back to save your family is inspiring. And while there are a lot of inspirational passages in this story, it is also dark. Like Alison says, and my chosen opening quote, there is so much more to the story than anyone realizes. Oh the writing of that line gives me chills! I literally read it several times before moving on. It is just so eerie. I love it. The mix of light and dark, good and evil is just blended so well. There are rarely only two sides to one story and the world is made up of shades of gray, nothing is solely black and white.

I loved this book. One of my instant favorites. The story is so fast-paced and the plot is constantly twisitng and turning you don't know what is going to happen until the final pages. Many well-loved and familiar characters make their appearance and I loved every second of my trip back to Wonderland. I can only hope that I can fall down the rabbit hole again...and again and again and again... :)

Favorite Quotes

“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 things that can.” 

“No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest.”

“I harden my glare and my heart.” 

“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin.” 


  1. Ahhhh I loved this one too!!! Morphues all the way. I can not freaking wait until the next one :)

  2. I love this book. My all time favorite cover of last year for sure. Totally amazing! I can't wait for the next book!

  3. I just read this and loved it! Gorgeous cover and brilliantly, dark and twisted version of Wonderland. I'm excited that it's part of a series. Kim @ Bookmark To Blog

  4. I really want to read this one. Great review! I love a unique voice in a character, and strong heroine! The premise really sounds interesting. I have been holding off because Alice and Wonderland is not my favorite, but your review makes it sound like that won't be a problem since the story is soo good!

    My WoW

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  5. Oh yeah, I so agree with you! Like you already now, I really really disliked Jeb, but Morpheus can pop up in a book anytime :D Manipulative, mysteries and complex, I loved him. My favorite aspect from this book has to be the dark Wonderland and it's creepy inhabitants. I liked all the twists and the amazing writing-style. I can't wait for part 2. Great review, you totally made me relive my time in her Wonderland :D


  6. YES! I SO LOVED THIS BOOK!!! And for all the reasons you mention! And this was one of the only love triangles that actually worked for me and I was LOVING MORPHEUS! I rooted for Morpheus AND Jeb and it was just awesome.
    I am beyond excited we'll get a sequel, EEE!


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