Splintered by A.G. Howard

3/5 stars.
Hardcover, 371 pages.
Read from April 24 to May 07, 2014.

I was torn between giving this novel two or three stars but I decided to go with three because the real fault with this book is that it just isn’t written for someone my age.

Splintered is a gothic and modern rendition of Alice and Wonderland. The protagonist, Alyssa Gardener, is a teenage girl who, from the time she hit puberty, is able to talk with insects and plants. All of the women in her family are inflicted with this ‘curse’ and her mother and grandmother have been institutionalized for these abilities. This curse, along with the abilities, is long rumored within Alyssa’s family to be in relation to the story of Alice in Wonderland, as Alice is apparently one of her great grandmothers.

Alyssa is keeping her abilities a secret from everyone but especially her institutionalized mother who hasn’t been home for most of her life. Between the stress of her family, tensions rising with her crush Jeb who is overprotective and the uncontrollable chatter of the critters around her, Alyssa is faced with a choice to end the curse that has plagued her family and save her mother. She takes the leap down the rabbit hole with some unexpected company and memories to a world that’s very different from the tale Alice depicted.

This Wonderland is a scary place, almost vicious, like that of a horror. The White Rabbit is actually rabid and missing some it’s skin due some inflicted punishment from the one of the Queens. The Mad Hatter doesn’t have a face but rather its head is literally a hat making mechanism. The Cheshire cat had its head cut off and half of his body has been eaten by a large and terrifying creature. The Walrus is some awful octopus hybrid called the octobenus and has an insatiable and cruel appetite. These horror-twisted characters are truly awesome and the reader can envision them perfectly with the author’s descriptions. It was a world, I wish I could have explored more. Instead, so much of the book’s focus was the weird romantic tension between Alyssa, Jeb and the netherling, Morpheus. I can’t ever recall as a teenage girl ever craving cheesy romance in my books but if this is what girls are into these days when it comes to novels then maybe I need to stop reading young-adult books.

This book had such amazing potential with its innovative setting but I felt it was ruined with lame-ass teenage romance. In my opinion, if this book had been written for adults and it ended up focusing more on the setting and Alyssa’s adventures instead of her love interests, it could have a been a really solid book! With that all being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just wish it could have been formed differently.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 973 pages.
Read from March 27 to April 24, 2014.

My God, nothing in this world could have prepared me for the last 100 pages of this book. This novel is by far the best in the series so far. In this book, every man claiming to be a king collides and they collide hard. What you expect or want to happen, doesn’t, and it makes you want to throw the book against the wall in disbelief. My boyfriend gave me some funny looks when I screamed out in protest  to numerous scenes while reading this book. Oh and just when you think you have it sorted out and you’ve come to terms with the madness that’s ensued you read the epilogue and your mind is blown once again. Seriously, this was my face:

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It’s so hard to discuss this novel without giving away all of the essential twists and plot-changers! It is however impressive that Martin continues to remember so many details and have the story flow so well between one character’s chapter to another. Even more impressive, is the amount of growth that each and everyone one of the characters (that are still freaking alive, that is) go through in this book. You learn that Jamie Lannister is actually a good man, that you can sympathize with Cersei and hate her at the same time and how little Tywin really thinks of his dwarf son Tyrion. You watch Jon become a man and learn about a world outside of the Watch, that it is possible for Sansa and Catelyn to tolerate even more grief, that Dany and Robb have to make a few very difficult decisions and you get to see Arya becoming vicious and Sam become brave. Well, I suppose the exception being Joffery, he doesn’t change. He’s still a twat.

What this novel makes me ask now, is where is the series going? There were times where I felt I should have seen certain twists coming and yet, I didn’t, because Martin doesn’t do anything ordinary in terms of character investment and plot. Which leads me to ask: What is the outcome that Martin see with these characters? Who does he want sitting on the Iron Throne?  I can’t even fathom what it going to happen in the coming books with the shit-storm that Martin put in this book.

Well I have to read the fourth book now! I have actually already purchased it and will tackle it as soon as I can get over the emotional turmoil that Martin put me through.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 761 pages.
Read from September 10 to November 04, 2013.

Another solid novel by Martin. Admittedly though, I feel like I have become comfortable with Martin’s writing so there were not as many surprises in this novel as in comparison to the first one, which I suppose, is the be expected to some degree. Regardless, I am still enthralled with the majority of the characters and most of the plots. My only fear is that so many of these precious details that Martin puts into his work that make his stories unique and exceptional will be lost in the coming novels. He has been successful in not missing too many so far which has provided some enthralling twists but, well there are just so many details in this novel and as reader, there are some that I don’t easily forget. Such as with Ayra’s direwolf, Nymeria, who was released to escape death in the first novel, will she return to Arya? I’m hoping so.

I think what I can appreciate most and what I think Martin could attribute the success of his novels to is the expansive and intricate characters that he creates. Even for those who don’t care for fantasy can still appreciate a well-developed character. For example, you don’t know whether to love or hate some, whether their intentions are for the better good or for their own means or if they are truly as heartless as they appear because Martin gets inside each and everyone of his characters. You’re able to see just how human they are, with all their quirks and faults, and empathize with each in one way or another. The characters that are straight forward and innately likeable, Martin doesn’t seem to keep around for very long (ie. Eddard Stark). Even with this second novel alone, some of the characters have changed so much from the first and are starting to show their true colours (ie. Theon Greyjoy).

While I have enjoyed this novel and the one prior, I don’t know if I would continue them were it not for the fact that my boyfriend really wants to continue watching the television series. There is just so much out there to read and if I’m already feeling too comfortable with Martin’s work I’m hesitant to continue and dull the excitement. However, I just can’t stand watching something that’s based on a book without having read it first! Since I have now finished this second book we can proceed in watching the second season. I hope that Martin continues to deliver.