DNF Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard


by A.G. Howard
 Splintered #2
Publication Date: 7 January 2014
Harry N. Abrams, Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Library

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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.

Rating: ★ (DNF at 51%)

I actually picked up Unhinged some time back, but I wasn’t able to finish it as I had to juggle schoolwork and I had very little time to read (do note that I also borrowed the book from the library, and I couldn’t finish it before the due date). Now that I’m on a semester break from school, I decided that it was a great time to begin reading it. I wanted to give it my full attention, especially since I loved the first book. Yes, I actually gave it 5 stars and couldn’t stop fangirling over it for a long time. I mean, I love Wonderland and all its weirdness, and being able to find a retelling of it was like opening a Christmas present and finding that it’s the exact same thing at the top of my Christmas wish list.

You might be wondering: Is JZ out of her mind? Who on Earth drops a book when they’re halfway through it? Shouldn’t it be in the thick of action?


I certainly hope I’m not out of my mind, but I really couldn’t continue reading it mainly because I was just really, really confused. I couldn’t really comprehend what was going on. Let me break it down into a few parts to make explaining simpler:

1. Alyssa’s argument with her mum – this happened after an unplanned meeting between Morpheus, Jeb, Jenara, Alyssa’s mum and Alyssa. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure why Alyssa was so angry at her mum. I remember something along the lines of Morpheus and Alyssa’s mum lying to Alyssa, but I wouldn’t exactly call it lying… Sure, her mum was partially at fault, but I felt that Alyssa made too-big a fuss out of it and was being rather unreasonable and childish by holding a massive grudge against her mum after that.

2. Morpheus – Apparently Morpheus is disguised as a human (he had stolen a body and dumped the poor boy’s soul in Wonderland), but I couldn’t really see him as a guy filled with piercings and tattoos. Somehow the idea didn’t stick, and I kept imagining him in his regular blue-haired form, and kept wondering why no one was running off in the other direction screaming in fear as they had just seen a winged guy with really blue skin.

3. Alyssa’s dad revealing his past – Alyssa had just woken up from a good night’s sleep when her dad walks into her room, sits down and decides to have a little chat with her. First she desperately tries to cover up for her mum breaking a mirror in her room (it was for a Wonderland-related reason, but since her dad is a mundane human, he can’t know of it) with really bad lies, and then her dad suddenly brings up a sports car (which belongs to Morpheus, and Alyssa had borrowed it from him since her car broke down) and his tragic past where he had lost his memory. Now, I didn’t get that part about memory loss. Not only was it really random, but I couldn’t link it to anything much in the story.

With all that going on, I began to wonder: when will Alyssa be heading down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland? That was when I checked my progress and realised that I was already halfway through the book, and there’s barely any progress with the story. I understand that not everything can happen in Wonderland, but isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of the story? Alyssa going back because Wonderland is falling to pieces? Doesn’t she need to become the hero who saves Wonderland and take the crown from Red?

Another thing which got me pretty annoyed was the fact that Alyssa was so wishy-washy, with her emotions jumping from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in seconds. First of all, she can’t even decide whether she hates Morpheus or not, with her darker side getting all aroused when he touches her and then hating him for pushing her up against the wall and pressing his body against hers, which is supposed to be a really intimate gesture. And along comes Jeb, dragging along his drama with his client, Ivy, and getting Alyssa all jealous since Ivy wants to get real close and personal with Jeb.

Did I mention that Alyssa has serious issues with her emotions? They’re all over the place.

Seriously, what’s going on? There’s too many things to remember, too much beating around the bush, no clear direction as to Alyssa’s mission (there can be some drama alongside the real mission, but it’s a whole other story when it interferes with the actual mission and deviates the main character from her initial plans). I couldn’t even see where Alyssa was heading.

I apologise for being extremely rambly in this review, but I’m truly disappointed in Unhinged. I wanted to—and was ready to—love the book and shower it with affection and fangirl about it, but if I can’t even begin to understand it, how am I supposed to do so?


2 thoughts on “DNF Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

  1. kara

    I. Completely. Understand,
    I couldn’t finish this & I’m starting to question myself. . . did I like Splinted? The writing was a strong point in this one. I agree w/ your points. All of the characters had tragic flaws. On the bright side , , If we pull through w/ this one. . . Alyssa is supposed to go crazy in the next. I think that’s what I’ve been waiting for since the first book.



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