Splintered

Splintered  - A.G. Howard

Confession: I bought this book, as well as books two and three and a novella, on the strength of the cover and description alone. And I don’t regret it . . . yet. Howard’s version of Wonderland is every bit as weird and beautiful and twisted as the cover promises. (Hooray for a cover that isn’t a heart-breaking deception!) The descriptions are vivid and captivating. The denizens of Wonderland are creepy and off-kilter in the best way. The plot is really interesting, presenting brilliant new takes on Lewis Carroll’s original stories and characters, and there’s even a good twist near the end. It kept me engaged and entertained.

 

Can you feel that inevitable “but” coming? Yes. Yes you can.

 

BUT . . . the first person present narration is meh. It never felt natural and did nothing for me. It might as well have been in past tense. And then there’s the geometric romantic element, with characters pining for other characters in a clichéd triangular fashion. It felt completely unnecessary. The story would have been strong enough without the romance, which seemed more like a crutch for character development than anything else. I came away with the impression that Jeb, who is an asshole, didn’t even need to be in the book and it would have been better without him. Morpheus is also an asshole, but at least his role is necessary. He’s a terribly interesting, complex character when he’s not engaged in dick-measuring contests with Jeb. Super spoilery musings under the spoiler tag:

 

It’s almost like Howard herself acknowledges Jeb’s uselessness when he’s literally erased from Alyssa’s Wonderland past and yet she still arrives at the same point, having accomplished the same tasks without him. She could have crossed that chessboard on her own without all of that boring romantic angst, and Alyssa’s relationships with her mother and Morpheus could have provided all the necessary fuel for her character growth. And I’m not just bothered by this because I prefer plot-driven stories to romance-driven stories. Jeb is a frickin’ useless asshole.

(show spoiler)

 

All in all, the cool stuff outweighs the meh stuff for me and I’m excited to see where the story goes from here. I know it’s too much to hope that Alyssa will dump Jeb’s dead weight on her next trip to Wonderland, but hopefully she’ll at least find more sensible shoes.