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.