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Splintered  by A.G. Howard

So… I've been on an Alice in Wonderland kick as of late. Recently, I picked up a used copy of Splintered by A.G. Howard, excited to find a new-to-me Alice spin-off. I LOVED this one.

Lewis Carroll's books about Alice have done nothing but cause trouble for Alyssa's family. Alyssa is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, and has the unfortunate family history of mental illness, particularly in women. Between working part time at a punk rock clothing store called Butterfly Threads, hanging out with her best friend Jen, avoiding Jen's brother Jeb, skating in the underground park ironically called Underland, working on graduating high school, and visiting her deranged mother at Soul's Asylum, Alyssa has a full plate. Then, the bugs and flowers start talking to her. The more her mother's ramblings begin to make sense, the more determined Al is to break the curse driving her family insane. But the only way to do that is to dive down the rabbit hole... literally.

It's hard to pick a favorite character, because there are so many bizarre complex creatures at every turn. One that fascinates me to no end is Morpheus, the ageless Netherling that became Alyssa's childhood friend when she closed her eyes every night. It's difficult to say whether Morpheus' intentions are good or not, because every time he does something good there is an underlying malicious motive, and yet even further beneath said motive is a pure intention. The way his personality is layered is absolutely intriguing, and though I know he will always protect Al, I would never trust him.

I also love Alyssa and Jeb's relationship. For those who have read any young adult books, it's easy to tell from ten trillion miles away that their strained yet tightly bound relationship is the result in romantic tension, and I COULDN'T GET ENOUGH. There was one scene in particular where they are arguing with one another, then.... doing other things... that I no joke re-read three times. I am a sucker for angsty, passionate, complicated love-hate relationships and Howard nailed it.

Initially, I picked up this book, because it's based on Alice in Wonderland -- and you all know how I get. I was pleasantly surprised however, to find that though the story has many young adult tropes, the writing itself seemed to be at a higher level. It's a great in-between book for either adult readers looking for a fun youthful read, or for a young adult reader branching into the adult realm.

The other major selling point that I discovered? If you are like me and fall/fell at one point or another in that pocket culture that is late 2000s emo teenage goth, you will have something major in common with the author. The aesthetic of this book in its entirety --plot, characters, setting, everything--is that sub-culture. I'm convinced that had someone been shrunk down and put in my brain, this world is what they'd see.

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