Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Review: Ensnared by A.G. HowardEnsnared by A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #3
Published by Amulet Books on January 6, 2015
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
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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 sadistic netherling outcasts.

In the final installment of the 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 even if everyone succeeds and comes out alive, can they all truly have their happily ever after?

Fair Warning: If you haven’t read the Splintered trilogy, this review does contain mild (or major, depending on how you feel about it) spoilers. Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled. You have been warned!

I had an epic love/hate relationship with this book – and it hurts me to even say that, considering how much I LOVED Splintered and Unhinged! But, unfortunately, Ensnared didn’t hold my attention the way the first two books in this trilogy did, though that epic epilogue definitely made up for a lot of the other things that bothered me!

First of all, I was 68 pages into Ensnared before I realized that I’d read Unhinged so long ago, I’d forgotten EVERYTHING that happened, so I skimmed through Splintered (I remembered almost all of it, but the refresher helped) and then I had to COMPLETELY re-read Unhinged (again, except for two things I remembered vividly and several things that came back to me as I read, I had forgotten EVERYTHING). The re-read was nice because it reminded me how much I loved Splintered (which, I discovered, is my favorite book in the trilogy).

From Splintered to Ensnared, there’s no doubt that Alyssa has grown and changed. She’s embraced her Netherling side and she’s accepted that Wonderland will always be a part of her. But there was something off about her in this book. She was still fierce and determined, but not as fierce as she was in the other two books. She doubts herself a lot and her conflicted feelings over her human side versus her Netherling side and her feeling for Jeb versus Morpheus really started to consume her. And, sadly, the constant back-and-forth became incredibly tedious. In Unhinged, I LIKED these conflicting feelings. A lot of Alyssa’s character growth came out of her reasoning through these conflicted feelings. But in Ensnared, they consumed her. Ultimately, Alyssa came to terms with these conflicted feelings and there was resolution. But by then, the back-and-fourth had almost completely annoyed me beyond caring.

I will never not be Team Morpheus. He was brilliant in this book! He’s grown so much since Splintered, it’s ridiculous. He’ll always be a cunning, master manipulater and a sweet-talker, but he’s learning to balance that with honestly. In Unhinged, sometimes it was hard to determine when his words and actions were sincere and when he was manipulating a person or situation to his advantage. But in Ensnared, I could always tell the difference. I have to admit, though, seeing him weakened and semi-powerless in the beginning was REALLY weird and difficult, since we very rarely see him in such a vulnerable state.

My dislike for Jeb was STRONG in this book. He had moments in Splintered and Unhinged where he redeemed himself but he had VERY few moments like that in Ensnared and most of them were near the end. I couldn’t stand his attitude or the way he treated Alyssa or any of it. I know he’s been through hell, but he was so cold, distant and disrespectful. I grudgingly admit that he had some intriguing character developments throughout the book, though.

I’m really conflicted regarding the love triangle resolution. It sort of felt like a cop-out, but I also don’t think it could have ended any other way, considering the circumstances. The set-up for this ending was hinted at pretty early on (possibly even during Unhinged), so it didn’t really come as a surprise. It sort of felt like there was a lack of closure for the one ship, but maybe we’ll get that closure in Untamed.

Alyssa’s dad was pretty a pretty tough guy. There were so many revelations and character developments with him, it was pretty amazing to see. He really kept a level head through a lot of crazy things. On the flip-side, I think those scenes and revelations dealing with him and his background took up too big a chunk of this book. Yes, they were important and relevant, but they could have been shortened/condensed. Since this was the final book in the trilogy, I really wanted more of Alyssa, Morpheus and Jeb (reluctantly) and more of Wonderland and the future, etc.

I really hate to say this, but this is my least favorite book in the trilogy. The characters were all SO out of character. The tone of the book was VERY different from the first two. And it was a pretty slow read, both in plot and in pacing. Things really didn’t pick up until somewhere within the last 100 pages or so. And my absolute favorite part was the epilogue. Honestly, before that, I was going to give this book three stars, but the epilogue bumped it up to 3.5.

Overall, despite not enjoying Ensnared as much as I’d hoped to, it was still a fun read and I love that I now have closure with these characters. This is still also one of my absolute favorite trilogies, Anita is still one of my absolute favorite authors and these are still some of my absolute favorite characters (Well, except Jeb). Morpheus was my first ever book boyfriend, so he and this trilogy will forever hold a special place in my heart.

I definitely recommend Ensnared for fans of the trilogy. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to my feelings on this book. So chances are, if you loved the first two, you’ll love this one! And, if nothing else, it’s nice to see how the story ends for all the characters. Finally, if you’re interested in reading Untamed, reading all three books in the trilogy is a must, from what I can tell, unless you want Untamed to spoil the ending of Ensnared!


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