February 12, 2015

ARC Review of Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books
Page Count: 384
Format: ARC
Genre: YA/Fantasy
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?
*this ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*

If I had to sum up this review of Ensnared by A.G. Howard in one word (even though this is just the beginning) it would have to be AMAZING! Last year when I read Splintered and Unhinged I was absolutely amazed at how well A.G. Howard had written the books but as I read Ensnared I was blown away to a new level. The last book in a trilogy is seldom easy to write but I'd say she pulled off Ensnared to such a high degree that it is easily my #1 book of 2015 as of the moment.

As I almost always say, the setting and world building in a book is the crucial base of the book for me, build it weak and the whole book comes tumbling down. This has never happened with Anita's other two books (and novella) and certainly didn't happen with Ensnared. We got see more breathtaking scenes from Wonderland and of course the looking-glass world and all it contains. From start to finish even when revisiting scenes from before Anita managed to amaze me time and time again. Don't even get me started on the cover, whoever the cover designers are I would like to personally thank them for their great work. They portrayed Jeb exactly as I had in my mind and filled it in with all the shades of red scenery to make it work seamlessly (but of course Unhinged will be my favorite cover out of all three since #TeamMorph forever!). Wonderland itself is a wonderful template to work with and Anita manages to take full advantage it.

The characters were just as well-written as before if not better and in turn I couldn't stop myself from reading Ensnared, I just had to know what happened. I have to admit that even before I read Ensnared I was emotionally attached to the series, so the feels were definitely real while reading this book. While Jeb isn't my favorite character I liked him MUCH better in Ensnared than I did in Splintered or Unhinged. I was pretty torn on how to feel when he didn't want to leave the looking-glass world. On one side I was pretty happy that Alyssa would be left alone to be with Morpheus but on the other hand even Jeb didn't deserve to be left there. Despite all that it's easy to see how much he's changed since Splintered, always being the rock steady side for Alyssa despite the allure of power. He had temptations in Ensnared and almost let Alyssa (let's be real here, he did) down but in the end was there for her. Morpheus on the other hand was at his most cunning and manipulative form here, and it made my support for Team Morpheus even stronger. Basically everything he did was for Alyssa or Wonderland, his methods may not always have been liked but they got the job done in the end.  Despite all that by the end of the book even Alyssa mentions that Morpheus has changed for the better (?). Compared between book one and three I wouldn't be able to say he's a completely new netherling but I couldn't say that he hasn't changed at all. Morpheus has been my favorite character since day one and that will never change. Alyssa continued to be stubborn but at the same time finally fully embraced her netherling side and held her own against Morpheus. All the other characters, from Alyssa's parents, to Queen Red were some of the best characters I have had the pleasure of reading about and I would love to see another novella sometime. As I mentioned before because of my attachment to this trilogy I've teared up several times but the epilogue was what really struck me the hardest and moved me the most:

"Even when death claimed my family members -one by one-there was happiness in its wake, a wash of treasured memories and laughter hanging like priceless art on the walls of my heart"

Ensnared was everything that I had been hoping for and more, I still can't stop thinking of everything that was a part of it. I'm extremely happy at how amazing the trilogy was but also fairly sad that there won't be any sort of novella or sequel series at the moment. I would LOVE to read more and I'm sure all of Anita's fans would as well. One of the best fairy tale retellings I've read, I would recommend this trilogy to everyone that reads YA.

5/5 - AMAZING book

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