I am so, so tired of love triangles.
Why can’t we have a book with no romance at all? Why is all YA so preoccupied with who the main character should end up with?
I really enjoyed this book set in Wonderland. It was really well-written and exciting and I sped through it. However, I’m loathe to give it four stars because, despite how much fun I had reading it, every time I think about it I’m just annoyed by the main love interest.
Before I get into a rant, I’ll explain what the book’s about.
Alyssa is a descendant of Alice Liddell, the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and, in the universe of Splintered, the first girl to enter Wonderland for real. Since Alice, the women in her family have suffered from mental illnesses, and Alyssa’s mother Alison is in an asylum. She tells Alyssa that she’ll hear voices when she hits puberty, and Alyssa finds her mother is right – bugs and flowers start to speak to her.
When she realises that Alison can hear a vase of carnations saying exactly the same things Alyssa can hear, Alyssa wonders whether the madness is false, and hunts for the real Wonderland. Her aim is to prove the authorities wrong and save Alison from the asylum. She enters Wonderland through a mirror, and embarks on a quest to right the wrongs committed by the original Alice, and save both Wonderland and her mother.
I was intrigued by the premise. I know there have been hundreds of Alice in Wonderland retellings, but it doesn’t stop me picking them up! Generally I really enjoy them, especially the more twisted tales like the Alice video game. I was also really pleased with the beginning of this book, which pulled me in straight away:
‘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.’
I could hear the character’s voice really clearly in the first few pages – and who turns up to ruin it? The love interest, the most controlling, creepiest guy who has a piercing, which makes it all OK. He fantasises about Alyssa but also treats her like he’s her dad. (Ew.) I HATED Jeb. Then, Morpheus appears, a spirit of Wonderland who acts as Alyssa’s guide and also wants to get in her pants. He’s nearly as creepy as Jeb, but he’s sexy and mysterious too. (EYEROLL.)
Here’s my problem with YA, or at least the more recent YA novels – no matter how important the world events are – in this instance, saving Alyssa’s mother from electro-shock therapy and restoring Wonderland to its original glory – the main character is always more bothered about which guy she’s going to pick.
Another book that I noticed this in was Red Queen. Mare’s love interests became the only thing that she cared about, despite the fact that her family are probably all going to be murdered and there’s a war raging around her. It makes the main character selfish when this becomes her sole interest, and that doesn’t make me want to recommend the book to anyone.
When Alyssa started to care about who she ended up with and pretty much nothing else (her interest in saving her mother was ignored for most of the latter part of the book), I lost interest in her. Her voice, at first so clear and interesting, was lost and she became just another angsty teen.
I gave Splintered 3.5 stars. I did enjoy it and thought it was cleverly written, but it was full of tropes and cliches. It’s also the beginning of a series, which is unnecessary because the story is over!