I hate not finishing books, but I just could not get myself to enjoy the writing or the plot of this one.
Did Not Finish = 0/5 stars
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.
I loved the premise of Splintered and had seen a lot of excitement abut the later books in the series coming out recently, so I was ready for a great read when I started reading it last weekend.
And then it was horrible.
The writing–GAH. It was killing me. It felt cheesy and forced. Most debut authors have a few kinks to work out (that’s the nature of writing and it’s not a bad thing), but this was just too many cliches and awkward phrasings for me to handle.
And the plot? It read like bad TV. Again, cheesy and unrealistic. It dragged, focusing on scenes that I felt unnecessary. I wanted to get into Wonderland (the point of the book), but I got a good fifth of the way into the novel and it never happened. Other scenes were supposed to be dramatically mysterious, but it was so obvious that a reveal was coming or that supernatural forces were at work that I found myself rolling my eyes and skimming the text.
The Wonderland aspects felt forced. The family history of insanity wasn’t explained enough, nor was the connections to the real story. (I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland last year and talking to bugs doesn’t play any role, so I was really confused when that was the “mental illness” Howard decided to go with.)
The other characters just added confusion. The romance–weird tension between maybe-jerk/lifelong-crush Jeb and mysterious poster/memory guy–was just plain awful. I had no idea what was going on with it. Her “sudden attraction” to the mysterious guy was painfully obviously supernatural and was one of the main reasons I dropped the book.
What really bothered me was the author’s portrayal of her protagonist. It felt strangely disdainful of teenagers and teenage life in a way that did not fit with the YA audience. Something about the descriptions of her personality and clothing made me feel like the author was scorning her main character’s teenageness. The way she portrayed Alyssa’s secret crush on Jeb, her ridiculously stupid and short-sighted actions, her “rebellious” fashion sense–all of it grated at my nerves. I understand authors satirically commenting on teenage life, but this just felt pointed and cynical. If you want to do that, don’t write a book whose audience is teenagers. (And it wasn’t even the popular conception of drugs/sluttiness/hormone idiocy that a lot of adults run with. It was just…weird.)
Alyssa’s reactions to the crazy events going on in her life made no sense. Half the time, she immediately accepted the magical elements at work, and half the time she was in denial, but it was never clear what distinguished between the two reactions.
All connection I could have had to the main character flew out the window, and with it all the damns I gave about her story. Meanwhile, the plot dragged, taking forever to get to what I assumed would eventually be her entering Wonderland. I gave up before I even found out if she ever got there, because the writing was just so–no.
But here’s my thing: other people seem to have liked this book. Does it get better later in? As I was reading, it felt like it would get better once she got into Wonderland, but the plot kept rambling, and I just dropped it.
I hate stopping books, and if you guys feel like I’m missing out on a great (if poorly written) story, I’ll pick it back up. (maybe)
Am I the only person to be so put off by the writing style and the plot of this book?