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review 2017-09-23 17:44
.Splintered Book Review.
Splintered - A.G. Howard

 

 

This review can also be found at LostBetweenThePages & Goodreads.

 

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers - precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. A family curse that stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, it's time for Alyssa to follow in her footsteps. To fix Alice's mistakes. To Wonderland.

 

A lot drew me to this book, Alyssas mum is locked away in a mental hospital and Alyssa herself is in danger of following right behind her. Plus Wonderland is real. Great!! This book went with the darker and more twisted version of Wonderland, which I think is a cool idea. Taking the odd yet picturesque place and turning it on it head to be disturbing.

 

Alyssa is an average teenager who is doing her best to get on with her life, which isn't easy when you're teased about your connection to the original Alice Liddell and your mum is locked away talking to bugs and only eating food unless it is served in a tea cup. The one person in this book that deserves some serious praise is her dad. He is desperately trying to keep their life together, its clear he is terrified his daughter will turn out like her mum and every other female in her family. He is still hopelessly in love with her, regardless of her illness and is clinging on to this hope that one day she'll come back to him.

 

Alyssa does her best to ignore the bugs and plants around her, determined not to go down the crazy route, but after an incident at the mental hospital things change. There's finally some hope. Alyssa ends up being dragged into Wonderland, with one goal. Fix what Alice did and save her family from the madness. Cue love interest.

 

Jeb is her long time crush and best friend. He ends up going with her, he is hugely protective of her and is desperate to get them home. As much as it pains him to stick it out in Wonderland and watch Alyssa feel the need to prove herself he doesn't hold her back too much. Deep down I think he knows what she is capable of but is so scared to let go of his need to protect her. Enter Morpheus stage left.

 

Morpheus makes up our triangle. He has been with Alyssa through her whole life, she just hasn't known it. It is obvious he has an agenda and will use Alyssa. He's dark and mysterious, and can show her a whole other side of herself. He does get on my nerves quite a bit, he goes on about what how well he knows her, but really he doesn't. He doesn't know her life Jeb does, and will manipulate her in this game he wants her to play.

 

There was only one real downside to this book for me, the love triangle I could cope with. Just about it. I feel like the dark and moody thing got taken too far, I have no problem with Alyssa being a punk skater girl, I was a teenager once too. But it seems so over the top, her out fit choice seem so teenager cliché. At first I thought she dressed like it because she looked so much like her mum she wanted to distance herself away from her. I felt like this was her only form of rebelling, because god forbid she does her dad will probably had a meltdown. I'm hoping that after the events of this book it'll be toned down a little in the next.

 

 

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review 2016-11-20 20:44
Ensnared (Splintered #3)
Ensnared - A.G. Howard

The first 25% of this novel is fantastic. Why? Because there is adventure, cool plot twists, an actual clearly defined plot (take notes, Book Two!), Wonderland creepiness, and a blissful lack of the two male sides of the love triangle. Then Morpheus shows up and, interesting though he is, things start to go downhill. Then Jeb shows up with his asshole factor dialed up to unbearable levels, and I was once again trapped in YA Love Triangle Purgatory until everything wrapped up in an are-you-kidding-me anti-climax.

 

If I had a dollar for every time Alyssa moans in this book about how her heart is literally and figuratively tearing in two, I could probably afford a trip to London to search for the Rabbit Hole. If you adore books about virginal borderline Mary Sues who love two different assholes and can’t imagine life without either of them, you might love this series. It does have a cool premise and an awesome backdrop. For me, it was just okay. And I’m taking the second short story collection off my to-buy list. Howard’s Wonderland is spectacular, but I am so done with these characters.

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review 2016-11-15 23:18
Unhinged (Splintered #2)
Unhinged - A.G. Howard

This review contains spoilers for Splintered. If you haven’t read it yet, proceed at your own risk.

 

Second book syndrome rears its ugly head. Howard’s writing is still good (blah first-person-present notwithstanding) and her descriptions of all things Wonderland are still delightfully creepy, and that’s pretty much the end of my praise.

 

This book has no plot.

 

It is chock full of Alyssa sticking her fingers in her ears and singing “la la la” to avoid her queenly responsibilities. It’s got even more wishy-washy geometric romance and dick measuring contests than book one. It’s got more of Alyssa’s outfits described in minute detail (because it’s essential we know exactly what she’s wearing every single time she changes clothes). But what it hasn’t got is a solidly defined plot. It is 100% set-up for book three, and at least 90% of that is unnecessary filler. I don’t mind if an author uses romantic tension to drive a plot, but romantic tension by itself is not a substitute for plot. This book just meanders for a good 90% and it is so. Damn. Boring.

 

Jeb is still an asshole. Morpheus is still a much more interesting and complex asshole. Alyssa in book two has turned into Taelor, the girl we’re supposed to hate because she hates Alyssa. She is needy, whiny, possessive, and jealous, and she blames it all on her netherling side instead of, you know, maybe questioning whether she’s just a hypocrite. The only redeeming feature this book possesses other than the delightfully creepy Wonderland stuff is the insight into Alyssa’s parents’ history, which would have made a much better book by itself than this ode to girls who can’t make a decision and stick to it.

 

Book three promises a return to Wonderland, which is more or less the only reason I’m not removing it from my Kindle unread. I couldn’t care less who Alyssa ends up with in the end, be it Jeb or Morpheus or both or neither, but a journey through AnyElsewhere sounds promising.

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text 2016-11-11 11:12
Reading progress update: I've read 31%.
Unhinged - A.G. Howard

As excited as I was to see where this series would go, I'm having trouble getting into this book. It doesn't help that I haven't had much time for reading this week, or that the story hasn't gone much of anywhere. I'm nearly a third of the way through and so far all I've gotten is too much romantic angst, some high school wangst, and some super-heavy-handed foreshadowing.

 

I also feel like the quality of the storytelling has gone down a bit. Everything's so darn telegraphed. Alyssa gets her skirt caught in the seat belt and the seat belt jams. She decides not to ask for help fixing it. Then she decides to drive home along a route that involves crossing train tracks. With her skirt still caught in the jammed seat belt. OH GEE. WHATEVER COULD GO WRONG.

 

Oh, and then there's this gem when Alyssa starts driving a Mercedes-Benz Gullwing:

 

I press the gas harder. The bar on the speedometer snaps from twenty-three m.p.h. to sixty-seven in under a minute.

 

Now, I know next to nothing about cars, but I'm pretty sure even my parents' rickety old '70s station wagon with the faux wood trim could do that. :P

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-04 06:16
The Moth in the Mirror
The Moth in the Mirror - A.G. Howard

This review contains spoilers for Splintered. If you haven’t read it yet, proceed at your own risk.

 

Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this novella is less about Morpheus and more about what kind of assholery Jeb got up to in Splintered whenever he and Alyssa got separated. In between a brief intro and outro featuring the interesting and complex Morpheus, the reader is “treated” to such scenes as Jeb being an asshole and torturing a sprite for information, Jeb being generally useless and reflecting on his insecurities and having yet another dick-measuring contest with Morpheus, and Jeb being an asshole even when he’s trying to be noble and self-sacrificing.

 

I think I know what Howard was going for when she showed us how Jeb came to the decision to sacrifice himself to save the Ivory Queen and, by extension, Alyssa. To me, it made him look more selfish than selfless as he doesn’t even think of his own family (who depend on him emotionally and financially) at the pivotal moment. To be clear, I still think Morpheus is also an asshole, but he’s an interesting asshole. Jeb’s too two-dimensional despite Howard’s attempt to give him layers.

 

Other than the brief insight we get into Morpheus’s character, this story’s only redeeming feature is that it’s written in third person past instead of first person present. It gets two stars from me, one for the fifth of the story that actually featured Morpheus, and one for the much-improved narrative style. If you like Jeb, you’ll like this story a lot more than I did. If you think Jeb’s an asshole, you can help me think up more appropriate names for the story. Like Asshole in Wonderland. Or The Douche in the Mirror.

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