Hardback 400 pages
E-ARC through NetGalley
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From Goodreads- 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.
You don't usually start at the end when you are reviewing a book but BEST END EVER!! I don't say that for a second book, especially when so much is left in the air, but I was like a little kid about to wet her pants hopping up and down in my seat reading that ending. And I think A.G. Howard is a genius. I thought the Disney movie of Alice in Wonderland was confusing. I haven't even read Lewis Carroll's books. But I find this series incredibly complex. Wonderland is every bit fantastical and weird and Morpheus is darkly enticing as any paranormal or fantasy I've read. The real world Ali lives in is still bizarre in that while she used to make bug mosaics (yuck) she now makes blood mosaics using her own blood. She talks to bugs and her mother talks to flowers. Ali's worlds have collided. The weird world of Wonderland is bleeding into her human world through her dreams, through her nightmares and then through dangerous reality.
Now I want to make it clear, I am team Jeb, all the way. But whew, I might have been persuaded to change teams in this book. Especially as I think of Johnny Depp a la Pirates of the Caribbean every time I read Morpheus' name. He is deliciously enigmatic, leaving you guessing his motives, and exactly what he knows and is capable of, a huge question mark, but wrapped in a sensuously enticing man so that you kind of forget the darker parts of him. Until they show themselves, reminding us that however much we may desire him, however much he may convince us that he desires us, Morpheus is a creature of Wonderland. But that leads us to Ali. She is neither all human nor all Netherling. And it shows in this novel how much she is torn between the two worlds. Her Netherling side pulls at her calling her to be wild while she clings to the human world. And Jeb, even for a full human, has a bit of the bad boy in him. He rides a motorcycle, he's an artist, has a labret. He isn't exactly a milk and cookies boy.
So the story takes place in the human world this time, but there are plenty of Netherlings to make it puzzling and dangerous. Ali learns from past mistakes and not just her own. The story line takes place over only three days, but it is packed full of revelations and connections and Ali finds that she is more connected to Wonderland than she could ever have imagined. It all comes down to a showdown at the prom with Red and some other Netherlings, some more powerful than others, and then that ending. Ali seems to be repeating a pattern in her family. And yet, her little deception there at the end. Oh, so beautifully come full circle kind of end.
If you liked Splintered, you will LOVE Unhinged. If you Loved Splintered well be prepared for A.G. Howard to rock your reading mind. I recommend it to lovers of Alice in Wonderland and all the variations. It is a great reworking of the story. I love this one. I am thinking I should probably read the original though. Just to see how much better A.G. Howard improved on the original.
Thanks to the publishers at Abrams for providing an e-arc of the novel through NetGalley for review purposes. This did not influence my review at all. All opinions expressed are my own.
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