Unhinged is the second book in the Splintered trilogy by author A.G. Howard. It follows Alice Liddell's, the original Alice in Wonderland's, great-great-great granddaughter, Alyssa Gardener, and her adventures in Howard's re-envisioning of that down the rabbithole world. In Howard's mind Wonderland's true face is even darker and most definitely creepier.
Did I want to give this book 5 out of 5 stars? Yes. Did I? No. If Unhinged had been entirely like the second half of the book, I would have stamped five golden stars on the cover and ran down the street, barefoot in the snow, proclaiming it's five star worthiness. However, the first half of the book reads as a good YA, entertaining and satisfying, like any other good YA; the kind I give three stars to. I struggled with the fact that the second half of the book was so image delicious I wanted to roll around in her words, like a cat in catnip. That is why I didn't review it while I was still mentally in Howardland. My conclusion was to give it the rating between the two halfs. Don't fret though, Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus lovers, my four stars are like most YA readers' fives.
Do I ever give YA books five stars? Yes, rarely, but I do. The novels I have given five stars usually have little, or no, mention of fashion, cell phones, cars, eye make up and nail colors, though. I realize those things have become a staple in YA, to appeal to the teens and young adults, but when it detracts from the real storywriting it makes me sad.
One very bright spot in the first half of the book was a flashback to Alyssa's chilhood wanderings with her netherling pal Morpheus, in Wonderland, when she was five years old. The little "story within a story" was fabulous, worthy of being expanded into a full children's chapter book or middle grade novel. *Since this review was published A.G. Howard has hinted to a novella of this subject.
One thing I look for in a great sequel is that it makes me want to re-read the previous book(s), and Unhinged did just that. It even made me want to re-read the side novella,
Moth in the Mirror.
Also, Howard served up her delightful buffet of unusual vocabulary words. I had an ARC and I do so hope they leave in the description that used the term "sluiced"! I wish there had been more wonderland "things" in the first half chapters, and shorter descriptions of clothing, devices, conveyances, and beauty enhancements. This would have made room for more of Howard's skilled word weavings and brilliant imaginings.
Moth in the Mirror.
You can read review of Splintered, HERE.