Author: Marissa Meyer
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: Feb 9th, 2017 (UK)
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Marissa Meyer is an author who can definitely engage with her prose. I enjoyed her previous series, The Lunar Chronicles, and was looking forward to reading Heartless. Meyer has proved her skills with retellings, so I was sure this one would be good. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I still agree.
Before she became queen, Catherine was a girl with a dream of opening up her own bakery. Then she learns that the King of Hearts is planning on making her his queen. At a ball that is supposed to be her engagement ball, Catherine flees and meets the mysterious new court jester, who completely ensnares her with his charm. She cannot stop thinking about him and soon the two fall in love. But societal rules, a monstrous threat and a hidden agenda threaten to rip them apart. Catherine is determined to find a way to save her dream, save her newfound love and save her people all at once. But, as it seems, her attempts are futile as her fate has already been decided.
The writing in this book is good. Perhaps not as good as Meyer’s previous works, but still enough to engage the reader. At times it felt a little too forced with the pompous dictionary – like it was trying too hard to fit with the Wonderland narrative, but, in doing so, it overdid it. Still, it definitely had it’s witty moments.
I found the characters a bit flat and hard to relate. Yes, Catherine has a dream. I guess we can all relate to that. But she also kind of felt like a spoilt little brat. Don’t get me wrong, good on her that she did her best to try and open that bakery, but… Well, she’s still a sheltered, privileged girl. And a foolish one at that. As for Jester – he was easily forgettable, and so were the rest of the characters. They were all there to serve the purpose of furthering Catherine’s story rather than be well fleshed out characters with their own purpose. At least that’s how it seemed to me.
The romance is the weakest part of this book, in my opinion, which is a shame because it’s also the most prominent part of this book. There was little to no foundation to lay this supposed love on and it just made this affair all the more dull and unbelievable. I did not find one good reason why I should care whether Cath and Jest got their happy little ever after. Not could I believe for once second that these two really fell in love when we barely get anything to justify that fall. It’s a classic case of insta-love at its finest.
Overall, Heartless has a promising premise with hardly anything to back it up. The title really clues you in on what to expect, because this story really lacks a heart to make it beat. It’s a good take on Wonderland lore, but the dull characters and even duller romance spoil that.