Book Nook — Young Adult book reviewI was not prepared for how heartbreaking the beginning of this book would be. As the story begins, we learn about Alyssa and her family—particularly her mom, who's locked up in a mental hospital. It's devastating. A.G. Howard is a genius with emotion-dripping pages. Who knew I could be so close to tears during the "background info" stage of a book? I didn't! Alyssa's pain, worries, and the weights she's been carrying on her shoulders all these years all feel so real. Falling into this world and treating Alyssa like a real person instead of a fictional character was completely effortless.There are so many different sides to Splintered. It's a work of masterful prose, a knee-weakening romance, an imaginative recreation of Wonderland, a teen's journey to paving her future, a mystery with so many twists and turns, and a story about families falling apart and coming together.The romance... Oh my god, the romance. The romance in Splintered is SPECTACULAR! It had my knees weak, my heart racing, my eyes popping out of their sockets.. It's perfect. It's slow brewing, it's taunting, it's electrifying, it's satisfying. It's everything I love to read about! And Jeb. Jeb is a sexy beast."I'm not wasting another second drawing you," he whispers against my lips, "when I can touch you instead." He presses his mouth to mine."Don't break my heart.""I'd cut mine out first."However, there was a love triangle in Splintered and I wasn't a huge fan of it. In general, I don't like love triangles unless there's a clear reason for it and it makes sense. But in Splintered I didn't feel like Morpheus was a good third corner of the triangle. He was weird and creepy, and I could have handled him coming onto Alyssa, but Alyssa's feelings for him just seemed a bit off. I just kept asking myself "What's the point?" Jeb was obviously the main guy here, so why does she have feelings for Morpheus at all? I guess maybe it has something to do with her bloodline, but I just wasn't feeling it.I only have two other main issues with the book. The first is just that I honestly did get a little confused towards the second half. There's so much going on, so many different motives, so many twists and turns, and so much new information. On the one hand, that's what makes the book really exciting. But sometimes I did find myself losing it a little!And finally, I did have some problems with the ending. The ending was very sweet and happy, and in that sense, I loved it. I actually didn't realize my issue until afterwards when I was reflecting on the book. The whole story of Splintered is about Alyssa setting out to save her family—in particular, her mom—but the end of the book felt totally about Jeb. Alyssa's mom and family problems do get wrapped up, but it felt extremely quick and fleeting. I wanted to see more of a reunion for Alyssa and her mother. I wanted a tear-jerking "running into each others' arms" scene. I wanted us to see Alyssa tell her mom her story while they reunited and bonded over it. I wanted to see more of Alyssa's father brimming with happiness at the thought of his wife's recovery (we do see a bit—but not much). It's just that the beginning of the book was so heartbreaking and spent so much time telling us about her family, but then the end wasn't equally heart warming. I wanted contrasting bookends!But overall, Splintered was a very strong, creative book with a terrific romance. This is the first Alice in Wonderland spin-off I've read, but I think it's a fantastic example of what one should be like. It's creepy, weird, totally crazy, and absolutely overflowing with imagination. If that's what you're into, I couldn't recommend this book enough!