Tuesday, January 7, 2014

[Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard]

Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Retellings, Fairytales, Fantasy
Date Published: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Amulet
Format Read: ARC provided by publisher for honest review


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.

My Thoughts:

Let me tell you one thing, I was so excited to dive back into Howard's colorful and freaky re-imagining of Wonderland.  There is something so beautiful and strange about the way she brings this world that is so familiar to life.  She does it in a way that you've never seen before, a way that just pulls you right into the world that she's created.  I missed this Wonderland and the characters that inhabit it and it was awesome to be able to go back and see what all these twisted characters were up to.

Unhinged starts off a year after the happenings of Splintered.  I thought this was great call, as it gives us a glimpse into Alyssa's life when she's a little more mature and a little less in the dark about everything.  It also brings all of the weirdness of Wonderland into the real world.  Sure there are times where you get moments in Wonderland, but most of the action and story takes place in Al's hometown.  It makes things both more and less strange, but overall, I thought it was a good call to pull us back into a normal setting with flashes of Wonderland's oddities.  

The story itself is a twisted one.  Howard weaves the tangled threads of her story masterfully.  She connects all of the loose ends of the mysteries that she presents, even if she doesn't tie them off.  Where Splintered had some surprises hidden in it's pages, the mysteries are what really propel the story in Unhinged.  Nothing is ever as it seems and everything is connected in ways that you can't even imagine.  Sure, I guessed a few of the things, but mostly I was just along for the ride.  I also liked how Alyssa's parents were a huge part of the plot this time around.  It gave us this sense of family that added a new flavor in the tale.

Once again, I'm not a huge fan of the love triangle that Alyssa is in the middle of.  The whole "have this now, cause you get to have this later" thing is not one of my favorite love story tropes.  Of course this is just my personal opinion, which is probably brought on by the fact that I just want Al and Morpheus together already!

Oh Morpheus!  Now I get to talk about one of my favorite anti-heroes!  I've always been a fan of the anti-hero and Morpheus takes the cake for me.  Yes, I appreciate the rest of Howard's cast, but it's all about the conflicted moth for me.  There were so many amazing moments, where he really got to shine and you got to know him better in the pages of Unhinged.  He became even more layered and confusing, while also being more open, if that is even possible.  Plus, there are some heart warming and heart wrenching moments that are wrapped around him and Al's blooming love story.  

Shockingly, I wasn't driven as nut's by Jeb this time around, but I'll let you know that he's still not my favorite character ever.  Chessie got some more screen time and it was fun to see him in a different element then I'm used to.  Also Rabid White popped up in all of his creepy glory.  Don't worry lots more Wonderlanders showed up too and it was awesome to see them.

All in all, I have to say that I was really impressed with Unhinged.  I feel like it was even better then the first novel.  And with that cliff hanger of an ending, I can't wait to see what Howard has up her sleeve for the third book.  I see things getting even more messy then they already are and that excites me!  

If you were a fan of the first book, have a love for all things weird and love a retelling of Alice in Wonderland then these books are for you.  I'll see you on the other end of the rabbit hole!

  4 Unicorns = Close to perfect!


Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

THE ENDING THOUGH. I so loved Morpheus this time around than I did in Splintered, even if I wanted to hit the little- at times, because then I'd just be 'Awhhh Morpheus.' Moth's winning me over. I was scared to read it, because I didn't want to not like it, but it was just ahhh. How everything's connected more than you ever knew, and how more twisted it became and I could gush all day...Great review! :)

Jenni said...

The first book in this series didn't work for me at all but I am happy to see that you are enjoying the series so much! It almost makes me want to give it another go... almost.

Nicole said...

I still need to read Splintered but it is on my list! Glad you liked this one even better!