Romanticised abuse | Jeb and Alyssa in SPLINTERED (novel)

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- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please use discretion. These subjects could be triggering.

jeb and alyssa abusive relationship in splintered novel

Today I'm drawing attention to the romanticised abuse in Splintered by A.G. Howard. It's a YA novel - the first in a trilogy - and a contemporary retelling of Alice in Wonderland. 

Check out the Goodreads synopsis HERE.  

Specifically, I'm going to focusing on one character from the book (Jeb) and his relationship with the heroine (Alyssa).   


Jeb and Alyssa are childhood friends, but although it's clear they both have feelings for each other, Jeb is dating someone else. When Alyssa is sucked into the alternate world of Wonderland, Jeb comes with her. Jeb's father was abusive, and so Jeb also has that stereotypical bad boy complex where he's so tortured you're meant to forgive his over-protectiveness because he had a bad childhood. 

The following passages are examples of Jeb's relentlessly romanticised abusive behaviour. I have tried to include as much context as I can without making this post too long, but I have included page numbers so you can find them for yourself in the book if you have a copy.  I don't want you to think I'm showing Jeb's behaviour out of context - so please feel free to check the references for yourself.  

(Pages 12-13 - Alyssa has had a minor skateboard accident and is hurt. Jeb carries her) 

'"Jeb, I want to walk.".......
Jeb cradles me tighter, which makes it hard not to notice how close we are: my hands locked around his neck, his chest rubbing against my ribs....those biceps pressed to my shoulder blades and knee.

I give up fighting as he steps off the cement onto the wood planked floor.'

This is the (subtle} kind of controlling behaviour we can see in Twilight, too, with Edward and Bella. Like Edward, Jeb treats Alyssa like she's a helpless little kid and acts as if it's his responsibility to do what he thinks is best, disregarding her own feelings. Sure, Alyssa is injured, but she tells him to put her down and he ignores her and clutches her tighter. I also hate the "I give up fighting" phrase; Alyssa just gives up trying to resist, and Jeb simply expects her to because he's stronger than her. 
It's uncomfortable and revolting.  

(Pages 13-14 - following on from the previous passage, Jeb and Alyssa are now outside in the car park and discussing her accident)

Jeb: '"I told you to replace your gear. Your strap's been unraveling for weeks.".....
"Actually," I say, "I should be grateful you and dad allow me to come here at all. Seeing as it's so dark, and all sorts of scary, bad things could happen to my helpless little self."
"This has nothing to do with your dad. Other than the fact that he owns a sporting goods store, which means you have no excuse for not maintaining your gear. Boarding can be dangerous."'

She's hurt herself, her knee's bleeding, and he's lecturing her on how it was totally her fault. It's patronising and bullying and it's victim-shaming.  

(Page 15 - Jeb and Alyssa are discussing her desire to move to London. Jeb doesn't want her to go).

Jeb: '"I'm trying to be your friend. You're not ready to move so far from your'll have no one to look out for you."
"You'll be there."
"But I can't be with you every second."
"I don't need someone with me every second. I'm not a kid."
"Never said you were a kid. But you don't always make the best decisions. Case in point {referring to her skateboard accident}".....
"So I'm not allowed to make a few mistakes?"
"Not mistakes that can hurt you."'

Jeb acts as if every decision she makes has to go past him first. In this scene, he has decided she's not allowed to go to London and that means she needs to listen to him. I can understand her dad not wanting her to go, but Jeb's a friend - he has no right to tell her what she can and can't do.  And reminding her of her accident and how it's her fault? Not cool.

Jeb's making Alyssa feel small, stupid, and helpless in order to get her to do what he wants. That's not loving.  

(Page 83 - Jeb has come over to Alyssa's house after hearing that she's been interacting with a dodgy guy in the neighbourhood, called Hitch).

'"Al...I want you to put a stop to this Hitch thing. Whatever's going on, it's not worth..." He pauses. "Losing an important part of you."
Unbelievable. He thinks I'm such a prude he won't even say the word.
"You mean my virginity?"
"You deserve better than some one-night thing. You're the kind of girl who should have a commitment from a  guy who actually cares. Okay?"'

(Alyssa is then distracted by the appearance of a magical moth, and they don't continue the conversation). 

Oh my word. It's her body, Jeb! How dare you - how dare you have the audacity to tell her that she shouldn't lose her virginity to this guy! Who the heck do you think you are? What gives you the right to decide what she shoul and shouldn't do with her body? 

(Page 103 - Alyssa and Jeb have just arrived in Wonderland, and Alyssa wants to follow the white rabbit that has suddenly appeared).

'Jeb...grabs me before I can follow the creature into the hallway.
"Jeb! He's getting away!" I thrash like a wild animal.
"No." Jeb crosses my arms over my chest, then lifts me against one of the curtains on the wall so my feet dangle, pinning me there like a butterfly to a corkboard. "We're not going anywhere."'

Again, like the first example I showed you, he's treating her like a object and taking advantage of the fact he's stronger than her. 

(Page 155 - In Wonderland, Jeb and Alyssa meet Morpheus, the 'villain').

'Jeb straddles Morpheus and cinches his fingers around his neck. "I told you not to touch her {Alyssa}."'

(He then punches Morpheus) 

Jeb has anger issues and the author makes no secret of it. It's part of his charm, apparently. He once '"threatened to turn Brett {his sister's boyfriend} into a smashed pumpkin if I {his sister} don't get home by midnight?"' (Page 55).

It also seems like the author's chosen the fact that his father was abusive as an excuse for Jeb's behaviour. I'm sorry he had a terrible childhood, but if Jeb has anger issues he needs help. His fury is not excusable and he shouldn't be acting on his anger, whether it's understandable or not. 

(Page 185 - In Wonderland, Jeb and Alyssa talk about Morpheus).

Jeb: '"Did he touch you?"'.......
Jeb: '"He had you in his room?" A dark cloud crosses Jeb's face. "Do you swear he didn't try anything?"

Jeb, she's not even your girlfriend (or a family member). And she's not your possession. Give her a little credit, and trust her. She doesn't belong to you, and what she does with her body is none of your business.  

(Page 189-190 - Jeb and Alyssa discuss Morpheus).

'"Stop humanising the guy, Al!" Jeb slams his palm against the mirror wall'.....

Jeb: '"We're not going to argue about this, Al. That's what he wants. I won't let him do it."
Alyssa: "Do what?"
"Come between us."'

First: There's that anger again. It's frightening.

Second: Jeb admits that the reason he's so against Morpheus is because he feels personally threatened. He thinks he already has a claim on Alyssa, and he doesn't want Morpheus messing that up.  

(Page 194 - Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus are all talking, and Morpheus is trying to convince Alyssa to help Wonderland).

'Jeb drags me behind him. "She's not having this conversation with you."'


'"Change of plans," he {Jeb} says. "Al's not going to help you play out this little game....You're sending us back {home}. Now."' 

Jeb's not even letting Alyssa speak for herself! He's treating her like a 3 year-old! 

(Page 202 - Morpheus and Alyssa and Jeb are talking, and Morpheus touches Alyssa's temple with his thumb).

'Jeb catches Morpheus's wrist midair. "No touching," Jeb snarls.' 

'No touching?' She's not a doll, you piece of garbage. She's a human being. Don't you dare say 'No touching' as if she's an inanimate object you want to keep perched on your bedroom shelf.

(Page 208 - Alyssa participates in a feast that Morpheus hosts, and Jeb watches from the side. This scene, like the rest of the book, is from Alyssa's pov).

'There's heat behind me, too, from Jeb's gaze......He warned Morpheus not to touch me.'

'He warned Morpheus not to touch me' - yeah. Like you're a part of his art collection or something. It's just gross.  

(Page 239 - Alyssa and Jeb talk and reveal their feelings for each other).

Jeb: '"I dated Tae {Taelor - his girlfriend} try not think of you {Alyssa}. Hoping that it might get you out of my system..."'

Ew. Seriously, how is Jeb not the villain of this story? He admits he dated another girl to try forget about Alyssa! How sick is that? I feel sorry for Taelor. 

Splintered romanticises an abusive male character

Splintered romanticises extremely unhealthy behaviour in favour of creating a supposedly swoony love interest.  In reality, the main male character treats the heroine like dirt. Jeb's relationship with Alyssa is toxic.  

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