Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!
Author: A.G. Howard
Goodreads Description: This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
Why it’s worth it: This post is shamelessly inspired by me and Michaela’s recent video about our favorite fairy tale retellings, during the filming of which I was reminded about this book. Listen, I hate the original Alice in Wonderland–book, movie, whole shebang. Splintered came out in a time when there was a lot of Alice retellings being published, and I really wasn’t a fan. But, I was intrigued by this book’s blurb among all the others–and I was not disappointed.
I think my favorite thing is that Howard isn’t TRYING to re-do the original tale. This is a book that deals with the consequences of the original Alice’s trip into Wonderland on her descendants. Then, when Alyssa finally gets to Wonderland, it is amazing how many creative ways Howard came up with to say “Well, Carroll wrote this but actually it’s like THIS.” For example, the White Rabbit is really called the White Rabid and he’s part skeleton. SO COOL.
To me, this version of Wonderland is much more creepy and visceral and amazing than the original story, and really twists the world into something for the more grown up mind. Howard’s writing is also really strong–to the point where I fell in love with a story related to Alice in Wonderland, which I thought would never happen.
In my original ARC review, I rated this book 4 1/2 stars–the half was docked for the love triangle, as you can see in the blurb. All in all, though, I wouldn’t let the presence of a love triangle keep you from checking out this great book!
Read it if you’re looking for: Alice in Wonderland stories, fairy tale retellings, fairy tale retellings for an older audience, strong world building, a creepy and fantastical world, love triangles, plot twists