Monday, January 7, 2013

Splintered by A. G. Howard

377 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, January 1, 2013. 9781419706271. (Review from arc supplied by the publisher)

Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Gardner's mother, Alison has spent many years locked up in a psychiatric facility after attacking her daughter with a pair of garden shears. Alyssa not only bears the physical scars of this attack, but fears for her own sanity as she hears bugs and flowers speak. She's also miserable because she's crushing on her best friend and next door neighbor, Jeb, who bears his own scars and secrets. But he's dating Taelor (sorry, hate the affected spelling), resident rich, queen bee.

Just before her mother descends deeper into madness, she hints that Wonderland is a real place and that clues are buried under the daisies. Between fear of losing her mother forever upon learning that her father has consented to allow electroshock therapy, and her own intensifying visions, Alyssa finds the clues, which in turn trigger memories of visiting Wonderland as a young child. She thought she would need to find a way to England, but through the looking glass she tumbles. Unfortunately, Jeb follows her. This is definitely not the Wonderland of Carroll's imagination. It's far more dangerous and grotesque. But Alyssa will do almost anything to break the family curse and save her mother.

This is an impressive debut -  at once familiar and wholly original. Splintered was atmospheric and moody, hip and humorous, creepy and suspenseful. The requisite love triangle was intriguing in that I didn't gag too much. Alyssa did a fair amount of swooning, but she also kicked some serious ass so it all evened out for me.

The cover is seriously gorgeous, as is the book design. I will definitely be adding this one to my library's collection. Visit the author's website and check out the trailers.  

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