By: A.G. Howard
Published By: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy/Magical Realism
I loved Splintered - it's one of my favorite reads - so I was super excited to sink my teeth into Unhinged. This installment begins one year after the conclusion of Splintered. Alyssa and Jeb have returned to their lives, but Jeb retains no memories of his time in Wonderland. Alyssa wants to tell him about their adventures and her dark cravings for another world, but she is afraid of driving a wedge into their relationship. Her silence will come at a heavy price.
Alyssa has more to worry about than just her relationship with Jeb and her looming high school graduation. Her mother has been released from the asylum; finding ways to function as a family after being broken for so long is difficult for all the members of the Gardner household. To make matters worse, Morpheus is lurking in the human realm. A battle is brewing in Wonderland and he insists that Alyssa is the only one who can quell the sinister forces bent on his home's destruction. Can Alyssa trust him or is he only manipulating her to fuel his own selfish desires?
Unhinged had everything I loved about the first book, but added some new complex layers. The course of true love never did run smooth and Alyssa's relationship with Jeb will hit some rocky terrain. The devotion these two have for one another will melt your heart, but their disagreements sent me into full panic mode. There are so many elements that could force these two apart, but I keep rooting for them to triumph over the odds. Morpheus poses the biggest threat to their happiness. I typically hate love triangles, but for some reason, the one in this story works for me.
Alyssa is growing into her strength. She isn't the meek, quiet girl I met at the beginning of Splintered. She still struggles to balance the lightness and darkness in her soul, but she also is beginning to embrace the magic that lurks within her veins.
There are so many elements I'd love to gush about, but I don't want to spoil the read for anyone. I will say that this novel's setting is mainly the human realm. I missed the landscapes of Wonderland, but plenty of its inhabitants manage to sneak onto our side of the looking glass. Fans of Splintered will enjoy this installment for sure. Secrets are revealed, danger is experienced, and romance swirls throughout Unhinged. Howard's world and characters would make Lewis Carroll proud.
One Last Gripe: Holy cliffhanger, Batman! I'm seriously supposed to wait until 2015 to find out what happens next? So. Not. Fair.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I enjoyed finding out more about Morpheus.
First Sentence: My art teacher says that a real artist bleeds for her craft, but he never told us that blood can become your medium, can take on a life of its own and shape your art in vile and gruesome ways.
Favorite Character: It's still a three way tie between Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus.
Least Favorite Character: Sister Two
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.