Worth It Wednesday: “Splintered” by A.G. Howard

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

SplinteredTitle: Splintered

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

Review: “The Selection” by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass (Click for Goodreads)

Four stars

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

So I’m just going to go right out there and say it: If you can’t hold on past the first 10 chapters of a book before you pass judgement, you’re going to hate The Selection. Why? Because the first 90 pages or so of this book were absolute sugary horribleness. I adore America’s family well enough, but that was not enough to make up for America and Aspen’s interactions. I don’t usually pass judgement on girl’s and their boyfriends–I’ve been told I’m way too sappy in that regard myself–but ohmygod. America and Aspen were so sugary and ridiculous and over-the-top that I almost didn’t keep going.

But I did.

And I’m glad I did.

Once America gets away from Aspen, she becomes a MUCH more level-headed girl that I wouldn’t actually mind knowing. (Clearly, Aspen just brings out the worst in her, because she goes back to acting like an idiot when he comes back.) When he’s not around, she’s strong, she’s sassy and she cares. She really needs to quit having such bad moments of self-esteem issues when she clearly has no reason to have issues, but that’s a personal opinion and I digress. The book actually starts moving a little bit and–yes–I did fall in love with it a little bit. A lot bit, actually. I was furious there wasn’t more pages. But you know what? Given all the bad reviews people have been giving this book, I just want to say this:

What you see is exactly what you get with this book.

The blurb should tell you all you need to know, really. This is a romance. This is a dystopian version of The Bachelor. This is what would happen if Disney decided to join the dystopian trend. The blurb TELLS YOU THIS. The cover SHOWS YOU THIS. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that every girl but America is pretty vapid, that the prince is a perfect Prince Charming and that the whole thing reads like a magical princess story straight out of a fairytale.

THAT’S WHAT THIS IS.

Yes, this book is listed as dystopian, but if you’re looking for another Hunger Games or Divergent I have no idea what you’re doing looking at this book. The Selection is filled with every little girl’s princess fantasy. It isn’t dark, it isn’t that deep and it isn’t action packed. It’s exactly what it looks like. It glitters. It sparkles. It makes the little girl in you swoon and remember how it felt to believe in fairy tales. It’s a light read that you can whisk through in a day.

I was a Disney girl. All I wanted to be was a princess when I grew up. Letting that little girl take over and enjoy this book is why I fell in love with it. But if you’re looking for a deep read, a gut-wrenching story, fast-paced action or a heart-wrenching romance, I don’t think you’ve got the right book. Someone once told me that some of the books I read are “sweet, fun, mindless fluff” and I’d be happy to put The Selection in that category. Because there is nothing wrong with that. I adore those books, just like I adored this one. But you just have to know that what you see is what you get.