Khanh the Killjoy


Splintered - A.G. Howard Before I start: how gorgeous is that cover? I mean really, if there exists such a thing as judging a book by its cover, I'm so there.Alyssa is a descendant of the original Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland book. The women in her family suffer from a curse of madness, even the illegitimate by-blows of the family become stricken with insanity after they reach puberty. Her mother ends up in a mental asylum after trying to kill Alyssa when she was a small child, she and her father both suffer knowing Alison is mad; her father because he still deeply loves his wife, and Alyssa because she knows she is doomed to the same fate. They often visit her mother in the asylum, even if each visit is painful to them both, seeing their loved one in the grips of madness.Alyssa has a close friend, Jeb, who is dating Taelor (I hate her already just by her name), the stereotypical beautiful, spoiled rich girl nemesis. Alyssa has been an outcast in school her entire life ever since Taelor reveals that Alyssa is descended from Alice Liddell. She is subsequently bullied and ridiculed by the other kids for her connection to the Alice of yore. I don't really understand the grounds for this: being related to the original Alice...that's pretty awesome. I would say it's more of a claim to fame, particularly in grade school, rather than anything over which to be ostracized.Alyssa rebels by becoming a skater, wearing as much makeup, hair dye, and dreadlocks as possible to disguise who she really is (the fact that Jeb calls her "Skater Girl" really gives me Avril Lavigne vibes). When the latest visit to her mother in the asylum turns violent, her father is desperate enough to resort to consent to electroconvulsive therapy, Alyssa tries to save her mother by turning to the mysterious boy in her believed hallucinations. She finds herself down the rabbit hole in a darker version of Wonderland, and is accidentally joined by a stubborn and reluctant Jeb. In Wonderland, she meets the boy of whom she dreams, Morpheus, who has appeared in her dreams since she was a child. He tells her to go on a series of quests to fulfill her mission in order to save her mother.The creatures she encounters along the way are definitely based upon the original Alice books, albeit remarkably more twisted. The recent adaptation of Alice by Tim Burton has got nothing on the creepiness of the creatures in this book. I love the clever spin and connection of the original tale with the methods that Alyssa uses to resolve through the dangers she encounters along the way.I love the portrayal of mental illness, and the heroine is someone I actually like, despite my mental image of her being Avril Lavigne. I find it so hard to like most characters in YA novels; most of them are either too damn stubborn (coming from the cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face school), too annoying and contrary, or just plain TSTL. I am happy to say that Alyssa is neither. She is smart, thoughtful, intelligent, and can figure shit out for herself.I disliked the main love interest. Jeb doesn't seem good enough for her; he is overbearing, overprotective, and is the type who denies his own feelings FOR HER SAKE. No thank you, that's not my definition of love. I just wanted to smack Jeb away and leave Alyssa alone to do her thing, because frankly, she repeatedly demonstrates a capability of managing on her own.The plot was great in the beginning, but drifts off in a myriad of confusion in the latter third of the book. The plot became confusing to me, twisting more and more until I didn't really understand what was going on anymore. By the end, I still wasn't sure what happened to resolve the plot. The confusing latter plot and messy ending was my reason for taking off a star, otherwise, it was a beautiful, surreal, fantastically imaginative read.