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Audiobook Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Audiobook Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Series: Splintered #2
Published by Blackstone Audio
Published on: January 8, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Length: 13 hrs & 12 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school.

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 at school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland - where she (partly) belongs.

Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what's right? Listeners will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard's bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll's classic.

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The phenomenal cover art by Nathalia Suellen and the ALICE IN WONDERLAND angle were the two main factors that prompted me to take-up this series last year. However, I had some concerns about its staying power after the first installment because there are only so many twists Howard can make on Carroll’s original tale. UNHINGED differs greatly from book one in that this story takes place in the human world, and the focus is more on the love triangle rather than on the wackiness of Wonderland. I enjoyed Rebecca Gibel’s narration and the ending will definitely leave you reeling, but this novel just didn’t manage to hold my interest the way that SPLINTERED did.

A.G. Howard’s descriptive writing style remains the star of this series with her detailed characterizations of the countless odd creatures that make up this bizarre universe. In this installment we get to meet the Sisters Twid, lots of creepy Tulgey Wood toy rejects, and too many creepy crawlies to count. I loved the author’s depictions of Al’s skater girl wardrobe, and Morpheus’ unique buggy fashion sense; even though at times I found that they did halt the momentum of the plot. I enjoyed the THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS references, and thought that Howard did a good job of incorporating them into her world.

The love triangle was definitely at the forefront of this story which I wasn’t overly thrilled about. There’s not much meat to this book’s plot line, and when paired with heavy descriptions and Al’s romance dilemma, I found that the novel lagged quite a bit. I can understand why UNHINGED received mixed reviews because if it wasn’t for Gibel’s narration, I probably would have struggled more with this one than I did. I liked the concept of Gardner having the chance at two lives but had a hard time understanding her commitment to Jeb. I understand that he’s human and that a lot was asked of him in this novel, but he definitely didn’t win any popularity contests with me.

Rebecca Gibel is undoubtedly a talented narrator because if she can make this Young Adult / love triangle cynic actually enjoy these elements—then that’s really a testimony in itself! She does a great job of handling all of the madness that the author throws her way while breathing life into this book’s lengthy details. I especially liked her rendition of Morpheus; I think Gibel does all of the characters justice, but him especially. If you’re considering reading this series, I’d advise you to listen to it instead because the narration makes a world of difference.

It seemed as though A.G. Howard left all of the craziness for the very end because after a rather uneventful twelve hours, the last stretch is one big “oh shit” moment. There’s a pretty major cliff hanger as well which leads me to believe that readers will find themselves revisiting Wonderland in ENSNARED. One can only hope!

Splintered Series

My Review

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. This sounds good, but I hate love triangles. I really don’t get why 98% of YA authors have to use the over used “love triangle formula”.
    I think I’ll pass on this one.

    • Yeah, I hear ya. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t read a lot of YA too. However, the appeal of the Alice in Wonderland story line is what hooked me, but I totally understand if this one’s not for you.

  2. Everybody seems to agree that the first book is better than the second one. But for some reason I want to give this series a try. I’m a huge fan audiobooks so I will be listening to them. Thanks for the advice!
    Bethzaida @ Bookittyblog

    • The first book is definitely better, but this one wasn’t horrible either. Every series needs at least one so-so installment, and I guess this one’s it for A.G. Howard.

  3. I definitely enjoyed the first story and love the cover art of the second. However, a love triangle, especially one that is at the forefront of the story, does not make me a happy camper. I swear, those triangles are like weeds, pop up everywhere, no matter how much I try to get rid of them!

    • I was a victim of the pretty cover as well, but luckily for us, it paid off! And I agree, love triangles are like weeds, they are EVERYWHERE in this genre. o_O

  4. You know I love all the adaptations of anything and everything Wonderland based. So why? Why haven’t I started on this series yet? It’s been on my TBR! Gah! Going to get Splintered now and moving it up the read list 🙂

    • Haha I’m actually pretty surprised that you haven’t read this series. You’re slacking Traci! 😉

  5. I do hope Ensnared brings us back to Wonderland, that was really the one thing I missed the most about Unhinged.

    Great honest review!

    • Exactly! How can you can a book with Alice in Wonderland elements, yet the characters NEVER go to Wonderland. Seems like a huge oversight in my opinion.

  6. Yes, the cliffhanger was huge! And I agree with you—I enjoyed SPLINTERED much more than UNHINGED. I’ve never listened to an audiobook before though…

    • That seems to be the general contentious on this series so far. I almost didn’t listen to book 2, but after I read that Ensnared is back in Wonderland, I couldn’t resist.

  7. Howard’s covers are amazing. I have not read these books, but have been drawn to them because of the covers and I do like all kinds of supernatural characters. Thanks for the honest review.

    • Nathalia Suellen does the artwork for this series. I’m a huge fan of hers; you should check-out her portfolio on Facebook. She’s very talented.

  8. I totally agree Carmel, I missed a lot elements that I loved in the first booK, I also do believe that my enjoyment had a lot to do with Rebecca’s narration….And I like bad boys!..LOL
    Great review 🙂

    • Yes, I read your review and decided to listen to it anyway because of the narration.

  9. I’m a bit unsure about the love triangle, but I’m pretty curious about this series. I do have the first book and I ADORE the covers!

    • If you can deal with the love triangle, this series is great otherwise!

  10. I absolutely love this cover! I’m not too keen on love triangles so I’m not sure I’d love that aspect of it but it does sound like an interesting story!

  11. Love triangles give me heartburn but if the story is worth it…I’m game! 😉 And when bloggers say it’s TWISTED…I get the one-click twitch! Great review!

    • It’s loosely based on Alice in Wonderland so how could it NOT be twisted? 😀

  12. Thanks for the great review Carmel, but I don’t think this is a series for me at all.

    • It’s definitely not for everyone, but you have to admit, the cover is gorgeous. No? 🙂

  13. I really need to find time to fit this series into my schedule! I have been looking at these beautiful covers for far too long and read many great reviews. Even if there are a few mixed ones out there. Great review Carmel 🙂

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

    • I don’t know how you’ve been able to resist these covers for so long! You’re stronger willed than I. LOL

  14. This series has been recommended to me countless times because I’m a fan of Alice in Wonderland retellings. I’m going to follow your advice and listen to it on audio! After Unearthly and Hallowed I’m actually not as pissed of with love triangles as I used to so I’m okay with this series having one 🙂 Awesome review Carmel!

    • I hope you enjoy the audiobooks! I was surprised to read your comment about love triangles, but every now and then, I do come across one that isn’t that bad. Hehe

      • I think it’s mostly because I’m still floating from my fangirl high of Unearthly and Hallowed lol…it will past and will be back again to my usual disdain of love triangles. 😉 I’ll this series out still though!

  15. This one wasn’t as strong as the first, but i still liked it. The world building is terrific. But I didn’t like so much time was spent on the love triangle and then that cliffie…. argh!

    • That’s basically my review in a nutshell. Thanks for commenting!

  16. I never enjoyed the first book in this series, somehow I never connected with it. That’s why I gave up on this one. I’m glad you enjoyed it and needless to say the fact you enjoyed it despite love triangle and cliffhanger – it speaks volumes about it. Great review, Carmel 🙂

    • Yes, if *I* can get over the love triangle and cliffhanger (two trademark YA elements) then that’s definitely a good sign.

  17. Do you turn commenting off on your posts after a certain amount of time? Just curious cause I couldn’t comment on the SPLINTERED review which I hopped over to since I haven’t read that book yet. Anyways in regards to THAT review – I prefer my stuff on the darker side as well so I’m pleased to hear thats the direction that this series goes. Luckily i picked up the first book on a deals this month! woots

    • Yes, the comments are turned off after 15 or 30 days, not sure which because I’ve found that older comments are mostly spam, so it’s just not worth moderating them. Glad you were able to pick-up book 1 for cheap! It’s hard to turn down a good deal. 🙂

      • That’s my problem I never can freaking turn down those deals….and then the books on the e-reader just grow and grow. Its the thing I hate about e-readers you can’t just glance and quickly see in one swooop all the books you have on your shelf like you can a real book shelf.

  18. Oh lord you made me spew my coffee with this comment, “left all of the craziness for the very end because after a rather uneventful twelve hours, the last stretch is one big “oh shit” moment” My oldest loves this series. Of course they are on my wishlist and I realize book one was stronger.

    • Haha sorry to make you waste precious coffee Kimberly. Hopefully there was still some left in the pot. :p

  19. Eeek. I don’t like love triangles so that’s been my number one reason for avoiding this series .-. Love triangles end up making me rage more than anything else. It’s a pity because those gorgeous covers O_O *happy sigh*

    Great review, Carmel!! 🙂

    • Love triangles annoy me to no end as well! It wasn’t too overbearing in book 1, but book 2 is pretty much all over the romance which killed this installment a bit for me.

  20. I heard great things about the first book and I love the 2 covers, but I confess I was a little anxious about this one because I saw a lot of mixed reviews and it’s the reason why I haven’t tried the series yet. It looks like it was a mistake because it’s finally really good too!

    • I have a feeling that books 1 & 3 are gonna be my favorites, but it’s a trilogy, so ya kinda have to read book 2 too. LOL

  21. I mean I do like crazy so….

  22. Ugh! The love triangle is the reason why this is still on my TBR. I thought that was resolved in book 1 and I was happy how it turned out. Now that the triangle is sort of revived, I’m unsure because I believe it’s a bad idea to do so. She should’ve kept that tension in book 1 if she was planning to keep it, I think it’s an afterthought or maybe her editor suggested it or something. Typical YA shiznit

    • Yeah, I was hoping that Al had made her choice in Splintered too, but of course not. That would have been too easy.

  23. I picked up Splintered, because it was on sale on Amazon. I am excited to give this series a try, but the love triangle thing worries me.

    • At least now you’ve been forewarned about it going in. Maybe it’ll lessen the blow? 😉

  24. Sounds like a pretty solid sequel even if you didn’t love it as much as the first. The triangle is what I didn’t like at all from the first book – among a few other things – so it being on the forefront would likely make me not like this one so much. but it’s awesome that she at least does it well though! I’d love to see the new characters and creatures we get to meet in this one though!

    • I think the good outweighed the bad in this installment; if only it weren’t for that pesky love triangle!

  25. I 100% agree with everything you said. The romance was so much in the forefront that the actual plot got thin. I still liked this book but it was not as good as Splintered. But that ending. Wow. So excited.

    • Yeah, the plot left me feeling kinda “meh”. I love Morpheus, but Jeb has got to go!

  26. Aw, sorry to hear that it focused too much on the triangle for you and that it lacked a bit. But I’ve heard good things about Morpheus, and think that is where my heart would lie.

    • It’s hard to resist the appeal of the “bad boy”! 😀

  27. For some reason Alyssa really grated on my nerves in this story. I listened to the first book on audio and read an ARC of the second one. If I would have waited for the audio version I probably would have liked it more.

    • I actually read your review before starting this one, and I believe you mentioned that you wished you’d listened to it instead which is why I waited for the audio.

  28. I’ve never read the series (despite it being on my Currently Reading Shelf for like a year now), but I do hear a lot of its wonderful word and beautiful writing. So many people seemed to look forward to this one but was left a tad bit disappointed. I hate it when more effort is given to the romance aspect (a love triangle again?!) at the expense of the plot. A slow-moving book can sometimes work if its character driven, but if it largely focuses on the romance, I’m not sure I’ll be able to endure that. I’m still glad you enjoyed it as a whole. Look at those 4 glowing paw prints! 🙂

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    • The writing and the narration won be over, but I could have done without the love triangle. LOL

  29. I still haven’t read this series, but I’m planning to ( I still don’t know when). Love triangle? Gahhh… I hate them.
    Great review.

    • Maybe wait until the final book is out? Sometimes it helps to read ’em back-to-back.

  30. I didn’t read your whole review, Carmel, since I haven’t read Unhinged yet myself. I don’t know why! I had it on pre-order, and I loved Splintered. It’s good to know that the audio-book was good, too, though, as I’m starting to get more of those, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few.

    Have a terrific Thursday!

    • There’s no real rush to read this one IMO. After that cliffhanger, you might be better off waiting until Ensnared is out!

  31. That ending was brutal! I’m super excited for Ensnared, I have to agree, I wasn’t overly thrilled about the love triangle as well, I’m all for team Jeb though, Morpheus grates on my nerves.

    A great review Carmel! 🙂

    • I like Morpheus as a character, but I’m not sure I’d want to date him.

  32. I loooved this one…because Morpheus!! <3 But even though you weren't a fan of the love triangle, I'm glad you still enjoyed it! The ending was killer so I can't wait to see how it all ends 🙂

  33. This is one of those series I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. I’m a little discouraged that book 2 isn’t living up to book 1, you’re not the only person I’ve heard say that. But 4 paws is still pretty darn good – and I’m not a love triangle fan either, but seems like it didn’t kill the book for you – so I’m keeping it on my must read soon list!