Awkwardly Literal Heartbreak, or my review of Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared (Splintered, #3)

By: A.G. Howard 

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication Date: January 6th, 2015

Format: Paperback


After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world–a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

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3 star (dragon)

If you read my earlier review of Splintered, you know that I bought the rest of the series JUST so I could have those gorgeous covers on my bookshelf. Although I almost regretted this with Unhinged, I’m glad to say that Ensnared made me feel somewhat better about my impulse buy.  I still think that Splintered is the best book in the series, but Ensnared scraped by to earn 3 stars.

Part of the reason why I disliked the previous book, Unhinged was that it was suffering badly from middle-book syndrome, where nothing much happens. In contrast, Ensnared had a lot going on–it did not suffer from too little action. The stakes were also pretty high, seeing as basically everyone Alyssa loved was trapped in Wonderland or AnyElsewhere (which I still didn’t really understand, but I rolled with it).

As with Unhinged, there was a big reveal of ‘this parent is somehow connected to Wonderland’, and I appreciated that Alyssa’s dad, too, got his moment of awesomeness. But after the initial quarter of the book–after they made their way into AnyElsewhere–he became just a plot point. His only use in the rest of the book was to add tension or distract Alyssa from something else, which irked me a little. We didn’t see any of Alison, either, except to learn she had miraculously been saved from her own mistake. The book was so clearly about Alyssa and her boys that I wondered why her parents were in it, and whether they served as anything besides momentary plot points.

I did really appreciate that Jeb and Morpheus had become friends in the interim, and were even working together, with varying degrees of success. It reduced, a little, the amount of pissing contests that happened–although they still did happen with varying degrees of annoyingness. What annoyed me was, if Howard had already introduced this concept of a way out of choosing, why were both boys utterly unable to wrap their minds around the concept, and why was Alyssa still reluctant to take this magical third way out? Also, why were they BOTH alternately horrible and seductive to Alyssa?

I did dislike both of them at various points in the book. Jeb, for a large amount of the time, is just a real arse to Alyssa, and remains so until she promises him her virginity (maybe a hint they shouldn’t be together). Morpheus is equally annoying, basically trying to seduce Alyssa at every possible point, and lying the rest of the time. BUT, these are old complaints–Em and I both agree that the entire series would be much better if both boys were gone from the equation and Alyssa found someone actually nice to be with.

In light of this, I appreciated that Alyssa’s awkwardly literal heartbreak wasn’t ENTIRELY caused by the boys. That would have been too cheesy (although it was plenty cheesy already).

Especially considering how much Red had been built up to be this near-invincible enemy, I was surprised how quickly the big bad fight was over. Admittedly, Alyssa had found the weapon to defeat her at the beginning of the book, but it was still a little disappointing. Also, considering all of the lessons about ‘use your powers wisely or you’ll turn into Red’ at the beginning, I wanted Alyssa to be given more than just a slap on the wrist after the last battle/massacre. I feel as if with that buildup, there should have been real consequences to her actions. I also wanted the last battle to be more than just one of Morpheus’ overly complicated, almost theatre/like tricks (with the exception of the massacre).

I really just could not get over the cheesiness of the awkwardly literal heartbreak, though. I may have physically winced at the whole scenario, and skimmed the whole drawn-out scene to try to minimize the eye-rolling. This probably meant I didn’t feel anywhere near as much of the dramatic tension as I should have…but literal heartbreak? Really?

Overall, though, the ending wrapped up nicely. You know, family reunited, warring love interests at peace, everyone totally aware that Alyssa’s taking the third way out and spending a lifetime with each (cue more eye-rolling), Wonderland all pretty again. There’s even an engagement…which I have lots of problems with, but that has everything to do with feminist friends and a feeling that seventeen-year-olds shouldn’t make such permanent life choices, and not much to do with the book.

I’m not sure how much my 3 stars are actually considering Ensnared a decent book, or relief that I didn’t have to slog through as much bad romance as the second one. In any case, stay tuned–there is one more book in the Splintered series, a companion short story collection, which I plan to read for next week.  

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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