((Full disclosure: I won a signed ARC in a giveaway. Though it's not usually my genre of choice, I love Lewis Carroll and wanted to give it a shot. I wasn't disappointed.))
Splintered by A. G. Howard is anything but light and fluffy. With the most love and undying devotion possible, I can best describe this book as a grammatically perfect acid trip. Howard's way with words and descriptions are at once both terrifying and beautiful. The way she spins the original Alice story into something of her own creation is mesmerizing and engulfing. I can honestly say I will never think of Wonderland the same way again.
What makes this book so heartrendingly perfect is that her characters are far from it. Every single one, even the minor players, carries more baggage than a Louis Vuitton store. They steal, they lie, they cheat, they have mommy and daddy issues. Their scars are both mental and physical. No one is the "typical" protagonist or antagonist; even at the end there is sympathy for the devil.
The plot is solid and tight, if extremely twisty-turny. Toward the end it was a little hard to keep up with who was on what side, but I suppose that was the point. The main characters are very well developed, though only enough time was spent on the side characters to show their damage. I didn't feel like I lost anything with this shallowness, though, because the three characters that I cared deeply about were so full of life.
This book overtook everything. Even as I sat at work today my mind kept drifting to what I'd already read and what I speculated to come. It gets inside your head and won't let you go. The characters are so real, their reactions so relatable and human despite their otherworldly origins, that I felt as if I were Alyssa tumbling down the rabbit hole.
I can't wait for this to inevitably be made into a movie. I can't wait to read anything A.G. Howard writes ever again. Is it possible to give this too many stars or to tell too many people that this is the best book I've read all year? I don't think so, and I promise that if you read this book you won't either.