amulet books

Book Review: Ensnared

Ensnared

Ensnared by A.G. Howard (Splintered #3) – Paperback, 416 pages – Published January 13th 2015 by Amulet books

I read the first novel of the Splintered series and immediately fell in love with it – purchasing the entire series as paperbacks. This is book #3 in the series by A.G. Howard.

If you haven’t read the first two novels then I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But I will say what I can about the plot and character development (of which there is plenty).

Alyssa takes us on another crazy journey, from the human realm through AnyElsewhere and, of course, Wonderland. Again, she finds herself stuck between her two halves – and between her two loves.

Along with her parents, Morpheus and Jeb, Alyssa must banish Red’s spirit forever, return Wonderland to its former glory, and find a way to balance the two halves of her heart. But the travel to this magical realm has changed Jeb, and he’s found something he’s not willing to leave behind anymore.

There’s a lot of madness and magic in this, which is my favourite part. The pure craziness and mystery of Carroll’s Wonderland is captured beautifully by Howard. There are weird and terrifying creatures – my favourite being the strange butterflies native to AnyElsewhere, even if they do endanger the life of one of our beloved characters – as well as beautiful landscapes and clever backstories. The whole origin of Carroll’s story is put into question, Alyssa slowly uncovering how he discovered the magical land all those years ago.

The main part of this is about Alyssa trying to placate the two halves of her heart. After her previous run-in with Queen Red, there’s something strange going on inside her heart – something that hurts when her human side and netherling side are fighting. What’s wrong with her? How can she live like this?

And Morpheus and Jeb still aren’t the best of friends, either. They’re almost constantly competing for her affections – despite being stuck alone together for who knows how long. I’m always routeing for Morpheus, even if he is a bit of a troublemaker.

The ending is quite a nice compromise, a clever and clean way to stitch everything together. And the epilogue is really good, in my opinion. I won’t tell you what happens. But it’s short and brief, leaving so many questions and opportunities at the end that makes me reeeally want to read the companion book.

It is sometimes a little too perfect, if you know what I mean, but it’s not sickeningly good or sweet. I think the solutions they conjure are really creative and clever, and when they’re in trouble I’m always wondering what they’ll come up with this time.

As for development, Jeb and Morpheus have a clear “epiphany” sort of moment toward the end. But I found that Alyssa also developed a lot, slowly – little realisations that shape her being over time, shape her as a queen.

I do love a good Wonderland story. This isn’t, in my personal opinion, quite as the first novels, but I still really enjoyed it. 4 stars for Ensnared.

Check this book out on Amazon here.

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Book Review: Splintered

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Splintered by A.G. Howard (Splintered #1) – Paperback, 377 pages – Published January 1st 2013 by Amulet Books

I first read this book earlier this year, and loved it so much that I went and ordered the whole series.

Look at that cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?! I absolutely adore it, along with everything else about this book. The purple font, the pattern at each chapter’s start, absolutely everything. It’s easily one of my favourite books, and I am dying to read the rest of the series!

Splintered is basically a modern, punky twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland.  I’m in love with everything to do with Carroll’s novel – I’ve even seen Alice Lidell’s grave, and am thinking of basing my bedroom on the novel – so when I saw this book in the library I just had to read it.

Alyssa is an almost-normal teenage girl. She’s a descendant of Alice from Lewis Carroll’s book, with a mother who’s trapped in a mental asylum. Her dad provides sporting gear for the inside skate park where Alyssa spends most of her free time, Underland. Her closest friend, Jebediah, also happens to work there. Oh, and Jeb’s girlfriend is the daughter of Underland’s owner (not to mention a major bitch).

For years, Alyssa has been able to hear the voices of bugs and plants around her. Afraid of suffering the same fate as her mother Alison, she’s kept this ability to herself, silencing the insects with death and using them in her artwork.

But one day she puts the pieces together, and realises that Alison isn’t all that insane after all. With a little help from her moth-like friend, Alyssa finds her way through the mirror and down the rabbit hole.

The tasks she completes with Jeb are just as eccentric as Carroll’s fairytale, with dark and strange twists on his characters and ideas. Zombie flowers, Rabid White, the octobenus, and, of course, Morpheus. Battling her mixed emotions, Alyssa is determined to do anything it takes to help her mother.

Little does she know, Morpheus is actually setting her up for the role of queen, not helping her escape Wonderland at all. Her final hope is her wish – a solidified tear given to her by a powerful netherling creature – but when she sees who freed Queen Ivory from the eternal imprisonment of the jabberlock box (therefore suffering that fate themselves) she is forced to rethink her plan.

I simply love this book. Alyssa is such a strong, funky character, and both guys are so different. Morpheus is full of tricks and deceives Alyssa on more than one occasion, but she still can’t let go of the admiration she’s held since the childhood they shared in her dreams. As for Jeb, Alyssa just can’t rid herself of her emotions toward him. He’s a sort of grunge/punk figure, who’s incredibly protective of his friend. When he finally admits his feelings for her, Alyssa can’t help but think of the girlfriend he’s left behind in the human realm.

Everything about this book is just so unique and quirky. Chessie, Rabid White, Grenadine, Ivory, the Twid sisters, Morpheus… Despite all the dangers Wonderland holds, I honestly want to go there even more since I read this boits,

I found this book so easy to read both times, and am simply in love with it. It’s funky, it’s full of amazing descriptions and imagery, and it’s a wonderful tribute to a fantastic novel. An easy 5 stars. I am so excited to read the rest of the series, it’s unbelievable!

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