Splintered by A.G. Howard Review

SplinteredSplintered
By: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books

My rating:
star

Summary (via book flap):
Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delulsions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem.

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world-crush- the protective Jeb–with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland.

But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be–not even Alyssa herself…

The Story:
You can tell A.G. Howard did her research on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (also see she loves the classic). Her portrayal of Wonderland is gruesome yet captivating. She pulls enough from the original to create a stunning Wonderland that has some of the feel of the original (but darker). The best part of Wonderland are its characters and puzzles, Howard is able to keep those aspects while adding such macabre twists it veers on disturbing. Its twisted like a Tim Burton movie yet has some of the 80’s feel of Labyrinth (1986 movie starring Davie Bowie…if you’ve not seen it you must).Its a strong story with lots to keep you interested in where its going. Another great part of the story to me was I wasn’t sure where Howard was going to take us or how she was going to get there.

The Characters:
Character interactions are done so well they feel real at times, and almost feels like you are eavesdropping on a private conversation. Dialog flows seamlessly for the most part and each character has an ‘unique’ voice. Unfortunately, sometimes Alyssa’s best friend (and love interest), Jeb, doesn’t seem like a friend I’d want. I wish he would stand up for her more and not meddle in some of her life decisions. But I won’t reveal more as not to spoil the story. Regardless, he does seem real with his flaws. You get a sense he acts first and thinks later. I think Morpheus is my favorite character just because I constantly want to know more about him and look forward to the segments he’s in. I would love to read an entire story based on him in Wonderland.  As for our main character, Alyssa I immediately was pulled to her through her odd life view to her even odder hobby,

I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

Blue Dasher Dragonfly macroI have an interest towards insects myself…I don’t pin them but I do photograph them. A little show and tell moment: here’s one of the pictures I took of a blue dasher dragonfly (feels very Splintered to me) in my backyard. Since I spent hours up close and personal with our bug friends I could really imagine how it would feel to hear them speak. This was one of my favorite aspects of the book and Alyssa.

Final Thoughts:
Splintered gave me what I wanted, a re-working or addition to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Howard mastered creating a unique, fun yet gruesome Wonderland. The story moves at a great pace and the characters are mostly like-able (Jeb you could have been better). Sometimes the dialog was a tad repetitive (certain words were repeated often enough I noticed). The story was left open enough for a sequel and I would love to read some additional stories with Morpheus center-stage.

Will there be any additonal books?

Want to know more about how A.G. Howard came up with her Wonderland? Check out her blog…lots of info there.

If you live in Texas don’t miss meeting A.G. Howard at one of her signings! Click here for dates and locations.

Splintered book trailer:

To buy this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Divergent Movie

DivergentDivergent by Veronica Roth is set to be adapted to film. The movie is rumored to start shooting in Chicago during April of this year. Shailene Woodley is set to play the main character Tris. Neil Burger (produced The Illusionist) will direct the film adaptation.

Summary (via book flap):
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue- candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprised everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. but Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves…or it might destroy her.

UPDATE 01/24/13: Summit Entertainment has confirmed that Kate Winslet is in final negotiations to star in the film, her role as yet unspecified.

Divergent Book Trailer:

 

The Darkest Minds Review

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra BrackenThe Darkest Minds
By: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

My rating:
star

Summary (via book cover):
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her –East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp, Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

The Story:
Alexandra Bracken creates an America that has lost sight of all the good characteristics. I hate to even think it would be possible for adults to turn on their children if a disease either killed them or mutated them into having unusual (and frightening) abilities (maybe a bit like X-Men?) But, history has proven that horrible things happen and people do things we never dream they could or would. Bracken focuses her story on Ruby, a character she has drawn out vividly. You, as the reader, are thrown into the horrible situations Ruby finds herself in and like her you have no idea who to trust. Its gives the reading experience a tad bit of stress. Certain parts are heart wrenching, painted so realistically you feel the ache the characters feel. I found myself constantly wanting to grab Ruby and hug her (regardless of the danger). Even when things appear to be looking up you still have that feeling of just waiting for something bad to happen. The calm before the storm. What pulls you forward are the questions you have about what has caused this disease and will Ruby ever be safe?

The Characters:
A lot of the secondary characters are glossed over and we have no real idea of their motivations rather than for power or out of fear. At the beginning all of the characters, save our heroine, have horrible characteristics and show no compassion towards the children. Like the camp PSF officers, an example

We all turned at once, just in time to see the PSF with the flaming red hair launch the butt of her rifle into the teenage boy’s mouth. (pg. 12)

I know, personally, I would like to have seen at least one officer show just the smallest fraction of kindness. It seems so unreal that adults could all feel so much hate towards children (though this would be the point of the book). I know, as a parent, I would never be able to see myself treating children so horribly. To counter the anger and fear the adults show the adolescence we do get a peek into how deranged some of the kids are, like Martin. Who is just itching to jump in the fray and hurt someone.

Unlike the secondary characters the main cast are very well developed. Bracken presents a wonderful lead character in Ruby. I was immediately drawn to her and her plight. Small bits of Ruby’s life prior to the disease give such depth and a sense of the immense amount she’s given up in a very touching yet subtle way. Contrasting small bits of her past shows the great contrast between life before and life after the disease. The way Bracken has Ruby think back on her thoughts as a nine year old about to be  ten was really realistic to me,

When I was about to turn ten years old, the most significant thing about the number was that it was double digits.

I remember thinking that exact thing right before I turned ten. It was this huge thing to be in the double digits. Those little bits of Ruby’s personality and thoughts made me relate to her which just made her experiences that much more real for me. Though we don’t get to reside in the thoughts of Chubs, Liam or Zu you still get to know them as Ruby does.  I hope we get a lot more back story about each of them.

Final Thoughts:

Parts in the middle when they are on the road dragged a bit for me but the last third of the book more than made up for it with its roller coaster of emotions. When I finished I just sat there feeling my heart pound and trying not to cry. It was a very powerful book and I will continue reading the series.

Check out an interview with Alexandra Bracken on Publishing Crawl

The Darkest Minds trailer:

Buy this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alex BrackenI just picked up The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I’m not far yet but am very intrigued.

The Summary (via Goodreads):

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp.  Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Check out Publishing Crawl’s interview with the author, Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds Trailer:

 

 

Through The Ever Night Book Trailer

Veronica Rossi posted the new book trailer for Through The Ever Night  Check it out. I can’t wait for this sequel to Under the Never Sky to come out, January 8, 2013.

Summary (from Goodreads)

It’s been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don’t take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe’s precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both. Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.