Friday, February 20, 2015

Ensnared Review: Alyssa

I have gone mad with loss.
My mother, lost to Wonderland.
My two knights, lost to AnyElsewhere.

I need to restore the human world and Wonderland.
To save the people I love.
And to save the netherlings who I rule.

A battle wages in my heart.
For my human half.
For my netherling half.

I'm going to set things right.
I'm going to do the right thing.
I'm going to stop Red once and for all.

I am Alyssa Gardner.
Hey guys! Today, in a whirlwind of emotions from binge reading, I am the powerful Alyssa Gardner!

Book: Ensnared
Author: A. G. Howard
Series: Splintered series
Book Status: Book 3 (final in trilogy)
Setting: AnyElsewhere, Wonderland
Genre: YA fantasy
POV: first person, told by Alyssa

Reading: first time
Favorite line: "I'll do anything to save Wonderland--to save everyone I love--because I'm responsible. I was weak. I won't be again."
Comments: Beautiful conclusion to a beautiful series. 
Rating: 5 stars!!!

This series captured my heart from the very first book. I read the first book, Splintered, last summer, and it was so good that I immediately had to go buy it and it's sequel, Unhinged. And then I sat in eager and painful anticipation for this book to come. Though it came out in January (I know, I can't believe it--I had to wait an entire month to read it after it was released), I wasn't able to get my hands on it to read it. UNTIL NOW. I haven't whipped through a book as quickly as I did for this book in a while, hands sweaty from the fearful anticipation I felt for the characters and plot twists. I literally started this morning, and by mid-afternoon, I was still reeling from the ending, officially on a book hangover.

This is the perfect Alice in Wonderland retelling I've ever had the pleasure of reading. For those of you who don't know what this series is about, let me give you a brief recap: the story revolves around future events after Alice Liddell's (the same Alice that Lewis Carroll wrote about who went into Wonderland) descendent, Alyssa Gardner, who learns that though she's a direct descendent, it turns out that Alice Liddell actually did go to Wonderland, and that it wasn't all some crazy dream written by Lewis Carroll. In the original Alice in Wonderland books, Alice does a few things that changes Wonderland drastically (i.e. she cried an ocean of tears...meaning she randomly created an ocean that really shouldn't be there), and ever since then, the Wonderland inhabitants have been dragging Alice's descendants back to Wonderland one by one, hoping that they will fix the mess Alice left Wonderland in. And. It. Is. So. Good!

The brilliance of this series is that it addresses Lewis Carroll, saying that yes, he wrote the book Alice in Wonderland, but it also takes into account of how people always write it off as being some fantasy created from pure imagination. A. G. Howard cleverly is able to fill in the gaps of history involving Lewis Carroll and his work, such that there's a direct connection to how he went from hearing about Alice's "dream" to writing it. There's a real life connection here, and I cannot praise the author any more than I already am.

Well, if this isn't any indication, this probably is going to be a long post given that I have quite a lot to say. Meaning that the rest of this post is going to be SPOILERY, so please don't read any further if you haven't had a chance to read the series yet. Stay tuned, though, because I'm doing a cover reveal in a few hours!



Welcome to the spoilery section of this post! If you're reading this, then that means that you've either a) read the book and have come to obsess over it with me b) ruining the entire series for yourself (shame on you!) c) not too sure whether or not to read the series yet, and have decided to read about the ending first (fine...but once you know how awesome it is, I fully expect you to go read the series!).

I really have no idea where to begin with this book. Ever since the first page, I was gripping the book so hard because I was so scared for the characters. Ever since Unhinged came out and the author left me with that cliff-hanger ending, I've been DYING. Various worst-case scenarios have been playing in my mind, many of them involving very painful events. I was so, so, so scared that a few of my fantasies would actually happen.

Jeb and Morpheus, gone into AnyElsewhere? Someone please cut out my heart (haha, bad pun! The Queen of Hearts happens to collect living, beating hearts in this book!). I kept envisioning all the ways the rescue mission could go wrong. What if Thomas and Alyssa had gotten caught trying to get in there? I wasn't convinced it was going to work, but then it did. A. G. Howard expertly created a sense of relief, only to throw me back into terror once Alyssa and her dad got separated. Again, worst-case scenarios kept coming to me.

Then Morpheus appeared. Did I ever mention I have a thing for Morpheus? He's on the list of hot fictional characters that I made for Valentine's Day. Anyways. Morpheus appeared, seemingly angry. PLOT TWIST. Because that was NOT the reaction I expected him to have when he was reunited with Alyssa. But, in typical A. G. Howard fashion, everything is not as it seems. Morpheus is angry at the rock creatures that Alyssa sort of is hiding behind. But when he does see Alyssa...well, let's just say that my heart was hammering away and leave it at that.

But what I really loved about Alyssa and Morpheus' reunion was Alyssa's dad, Thomas. It was adorable. He's her dad, so clearly he's playing the overprotective father part, but as he also has a rather large bone to pick with Morpheus, it only makes his overprotectiveness of her even cuter. Let's not forget the fact that it turns out Thomas is pretty handy with weapons, and is quite capable of handing out some dangerous threats. So. Cute. I simply love their father-daughter relationship!

And then they embarked on a search for Jeb. When Morpheus told Alyssa that he isn't the same person he use to be, again, my hyper reactive imagination kicked into play. Did he lose his memories? Was he in some sort of zen-meditation state? The endless possibilities were killing me. And then...HE WAS THERE. Relief coursed through me, until PLOT TWIST. Gah. Way to kill my heart again. Jeb, painting in AnyElsewhere? Did not see that coming. Magic? Okay, I suspected that he would go through some kind of netherling transformation given the cover, but not like that. His magic being a combination of both Morpheus and Red? I did not see that coming. At all. So hat tip to the author for once again, tearing my heart out.

The rest of the book was pure...I can't even put it into words. Alyssa's confrontation with Red? Morpheus and his wedding? Jeb's torture, and then his death? Followed by Alyssa's intended murder of Morpheus? And then Alyssa's heart physically being torn in two? PLOT. TWIST. AFTER. PLOT. TWIST. Is that even legal???

THAT ENDING. I was killing myself trying to figure out who Alyssa would end up with. Part of me wanted her to be with Morpheus (yes, I am biased because I like him!), but the other part saw how Jeb was good for her. Like Alyssa said, Jeb anchors her down to humanity while Morpheus brings her up to new heights of her netherling side. And prior to reading the ending, I was in great distress over how everything was going to work out. First I though Morpheus would somehow take the throne and kill Jeb. And then Jeb sort of died. And then Alyssa, in dismay, tried to to kill Morpheus, meaning she would end up with no one. Luckily, it didn't come to that, and both Jeb and Morpheus were fine. As if that wasn't enough of a roller coaster of emotions, Alyssa then very nearly dies, meaning she would end up with no one. BUT. There was a happy ending...sort of. She got both guys in the a way. But JEB DIED. From OLD AGE. I mean, fine, he lived a full and happy life, but the thing with book endings is that though the book ends, the characters continue to live on, never dying in our minds. Until the author puts a time limit on their life and outwardly acknowledges that they die from old age. Which means a sobbing fest is in need. Though I'm happy that Alyssa got both her guys, and that I probably would do the same, it doesn't help to meld the pain of having her outlive Jeb. That''s just...

But this book...Unexpected event after unexpected event, all managing to connecting to the grande finale. A beautifully orchestrated book. And Morpheus. He says one thing, he means another. Always, always has a hidden agenda, some solution to get everyone out through unexpected events. I honestly think that he's the core of all the unexpectedness in the book. His actions are unpredictable, and thus is the catalyst for all these unpredictable events one after another. Again, kudos to A. G. Howard. Amazing work, able to manipulate my heart like a plaything so many times.

AND!!! As of today, there is news that there will be a novella accompanying the end of the series! Which means that it ISN'T OVER YET!!! Another instalment is yet to come, and until it does, I shall be waiting in eager (see: agonizing) anticipation, ready for my heart to once again be played with like putty and torn to shreds!

I'm begging you, if you haven't read this series, please please PLEASE pick it up! You won't regret it!

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