Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Series: Splintered #2
Genres: Bedtime & Dreams, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.
Honestly, UNHINGED was just an average read all around. After falling down the rabbit hole with SPLINTERED (total pun intended) and loving Howard’s unique and macabre retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I was not expecting a sequel. Nor, did I think the book needed one. However, I am happy with the path the series is taking.
“A childish story take, and with a gentle hand, lay it where Childhood’s dreams are twined in Memory’s mystic band…thus grew the world of Wonderland.”
UNHINGED explores all the characters of SPLINTERED that, without a sequel, we would have never discovered the depth of. Everyone has a backstory and secret pasts that they would rather stay hidden but this book fully explores all of them.
It’s great that we get to learn more about these characters, it would have been nice to see some fresh faces along with all the familiar ones. I hope ENSNARED introduces some new players to spice up the plot a bit.
Speaking of the characters, Alyssa kind of reverted to her naive, weak human side we saw in the beginning of SPLINTERED. So in this book was reading Alyssa’s journey of accepting herself all over again, which was a little bit repetitive and frustrating when we all know she has the ability to be something greater.
“Little blossom trapped in between,
wearing malice like a queen;
hide the truth, be cruel and tart,
still all the more, you rule my heart.”
Jeb held his own in SPLINTERED but now he seems so helpless and kind of unnecessary. In fact, he spends a good portion of his time in the novel unconscious/unaware/absent and I barely noticed he was gone. I really liked him in the first book because he seemed like the perfect fit for Alyssa, complementing her in every way. Now he just seems like a puppy trying to play with a pack of wolves, way out of his league.
Morpheus was my favorite character in the first installment and needless to say, I am Team Morpheus. His character continues to surprise me yet make me want to tear my hair out at the same time. He is so frustrating and I can definitely share Alyssa’s exasperation (and affection) towards him. Plus he does the stupidest things, even if they are right in his mind, that can be infuriating but you still manage to sympathize with him and even pity him.
Plot wise, there isn’t too much going on but the writing and characters nudged the story along. The focus was definitely on the trio and the relationships they all have with each other. So while the first book worked on the world building and establishing things, this one was more character-driven, which I sometimes prefer because characters can be entertaining in and of themselves.
Overall, this is a great book if you are looking for more from the characters, especially Morpheus as he plays a major role, but is not vital if you are satisfied with the ending of SPLINTERED. A fair warning though, if you do read it, the ending cliffhanger will leave you mad for the next book. (Another total pun intended)