Saturday, January 04, 2014

Early Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Title: Unhinged 
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Splintered #2 

Hardcover, 400 pages

Expected publication: January 7, 2014 by Amulet Books

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publicist in exchange for a honest review. 

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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.

Unhinged is the sequel to last year’s phenomenal debut Splintered by A.G Howard. I fell in love with Splintered; captivated by Howard’s dark re-imaged telling of Alice in Wonderland. I couldn’t wait to dive back into Alyssa’s world when Unhinged arrived in the mail, expecting to be swept off my feet once more with a terrific story.  Sadly, Unhinged didn’t live up to my expectations and had me wondering what happened to all the loveable characters?

In Splintered we traveled alongside Alyssa to Wonderland but this time Wonderland came to Alyssa in the human world. While I would have like to see more of Wonderland, I didn’t mind the change of scenery so much. Alyssa is about to graduate high school and prom is just around the corner. I actually liked seeing Alyssa’s normal life because we didn't get to see it much before. But things start to change when Alyssa has visions of Wonderland (it’s been a year since she traveled down the rabbit hole) and suddenly Morpheus shows up disguised as an exchange student at her school…asking for her help because Red is back and has her sight on destroying Wonderland.  

Howard’s vivid details of Wonderland are just as beautiful and sinister as I remembered; which is probably my favorite aspect of the novel. Now, the not so lovely part…the characters. I remembered how much I loved the characters in book 1…but it seems like everyone did a complete 180 especially Alyssa.  My annoyance with Alyssa almost made me want to stop reading, but I’m not one to quit so easily. 

So, Alyssa has a bunch of vision of wonderland, the bugs and plant warns her of something coming and Wonderland’s possible destruction then she start seeing Red in her artwork…she automatically jumps  to the conclusion that Morpheus is behind it. For a good 2/3 of the book, anything bad that happened she would ASSUME Morpheus did it, not trusting anything he says…because, well, he’s Morpheus…he only does things that is beneficial for him. Alyssa would assume and yell how she doesn’t trust him, apologizes/guilt ridden, assumes again and says she can’t trust him, apologizes/guilt ridden…repeat-repeat. Bipolar much? It was ridiculous how one second she’s scolding herself for her actions and cruelty and the next second she’s lashing out again.  Let me tell you now that Morpheus isn’t blameless, but the point is that she doesn’t wait to even give him a chance to prove his innocence or say anything to defend himself. Also Alyssa did a lot of really immature things.  For example, she drove wreck less in a residential area to scare Morpheus and almost hit a child! Not cool. Alyssa didn’t understand the gravity of the situation that was occurring around her…although she see Wonderland seeping into the human world and hears the ominous warnings from Morpheus, the bugs, and the plants she refused to acknowledge it because she wants to have a normal life. 

Then there’s Jeb her boyfriend. Jeb wasn’t in the picture much because he was so busy with his art career. Every time Alyssa tried to get in contact with Jeb, he’d blow her off because of something art related. I didn’t like his excuse saying he needed to attend the business meetings because he’s doing it for THEIR future when it’s really for him. As for Morpheus, he is his typical self, so secretive/scheming…it’s no wonder that Alyssa had a hard time trusting him (but I think she still would have acted the same way regardless knowing the truth).  

The only part I truly enjoyed was the last few chapters because Alyssa wasn’t acting like an immature brat (much) and it totally made up for the rest of the book. It is where the action is and where the truth about Alyssa’s mom comes to light. I also liked the twist with Alyssa’s parent (even if it was a little predictable). The last two chapters was the biggest surprise, and has me eager to find out what happens next.  The first 2/3 of the book is more like 2 1/2 stars in my opinion but because of the ending I’m rounding it up to 3 stars. 

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