As long as I can remember, I have had a boxed set of the two Alice books. I can only assume that they originally belonged to my parents, though I always recall them being on my bookshelf. I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland many times, while Through the Looking-Glass on only half as many occasions. In my house now, I also own the annotated version and a cool pop-up book that was out a few years ago (plus the Disney animated and live action movies). Isn’t it strange, then, to have so many copies of a story with which I have such a love/hate relationship? To be honest, though there are so many wonderful things about the story, the stupidity, the backwards questions, the attitude of the Red Queen…I don’t know, I just always thought as a kid that these people just needed a good smacking. Or a banging together of heads. The riddles, the tea party, the words I didn’t understand (Caucus Race? Mock-Turtle? Treacle?) and the nonsense really frustrated me as a child. So to even begin to try and explain why I read it over and over…I can’t.
Once upon a time, in my adulthood, Tim Burton, Cirque de Soleil, the Ghost of L. Frank Baum and some absinthe met up, went to some underground club, one thing led to another…then Splintered was born. A.G. Howard has created a world slightly left of center, which, if the original Wonderland was already that, means this tale takes the original story and turns it on its head.
Alyssa is the great-great-great-granddaughter of the original Alice who, long ago, was the inspiration for the Lewis Carroll tale. Alyssa does get teased by the other kids at school about it, which wouldn’t be so bad if her mother wasn’t confined to an institution and insisted on wearing an Alice pinafore and eating food served only in teacups. Her mother also hears the flowers speak and the bugs talking, and Alyssa fears for her own sanity when she starts to hear the same voices.
Alyssa’s friend Jeb is her rock. Even though he’s suffered plenty at the hands of his own father, he has always been there for her…until he started dating Taelor. Jeb doesn’t know the truth about Alyssa’s mom, and though Alyssa has feelings for Jeb, she could never drag him into her nightmare.
Then Alyssa finds out that her mother is scheduled to have electroconvulsive therapy, and Jeb is planning on moving to London with Taelor. And through a strange confluence of: a tale of a curse, a warning from her mom, a strange website, a moth and some hidden Wonderland-related treasure found, Alyssa is determined to find out what is going on with their family. She decides it is time she went down the rabbit hole. But what she finds there is a far cry from the childlike tales that Alice told; she finds a strange, frightening place that she must get through to save her mother, herself…and Jeb.
This telling mashes together the “real” world, Alice’s Wonderland and Alyssa’s Wonderland in a beautiful, horrible, amazing and painful way. Alyssa soon remembers a special companion from childhood and the stories he told her, and as she tries to right the wrongs from more than a century before, she comes to discover that, like the raven and the writing desk, sometimes the truth is a riddle that has many answers. Or none at all.
Splintered by A.G. Howard was published January 1, 2013 by Amulet Books.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Romance
Ages: 14 and up
You Might Want to Know: Nothing of note