Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Lady Catherine Pinkerton is the daughter of a Marquess and a member of Wonderland’s nobility. She has caught the eye of the King of Hearts and could be his Queen, but she does not want this life. Catherine is a talented baker and dreams of opening the finest bakery in Hearts — a most unsuitable occupation for a young lady. On the night of the King’s impending and unwanted proposal, Catherine meets Jest, the King’s new and mysterious Joker. Torn between what she desires most and what is expected of her, Catherine must choose loyalty to her family and the King or to follow her heart. Before Alice comes to Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is just a young woman filled with dreams and love.
I was so excited to hear about his book. I’ve not read The Lunar Chronicles, but I do know that Marissa Meyer is kind of the undisputed queen of YA fairy tales. I love Alice in Wonderland and have a particular fondness for the Queen of Hearts. With my expectations high, I plunged right into Heartless — which clocks in at 450 pages with tiny type. I ended up quite disappointed for a number of reasons.
I think the biggest issue for me was Catherine herself. I love a good villain and the Queen of Hearts is a personal favorite. I expected a strong-willed, stubborn, and fiery girl who could turn into the somewhat ridiculous, mad, decapitation-happy Queen. Instead, Catherine is weak-willed and spineless –she’s just so soft. I get it, she’s sweet and that should make her story all the more tragic. I’d be fine with that, but there’s just no hint of what kind of person she would become — she doesn’t even an anger management problem. Her transformation in to the Queen of Hearts happens in the blink of an eye. A gradual transformation would have probably been much more effective and would have suited the story much better.
Similarly, the love story just didn’t do it for me. Jest, a man who is enigmatic and unlike anyone Catherine has ever met, is honestly just so boring. He has absolutely no charisma. This is a man Catherine dreams about — he takes her on adventures and ignites desire in her heart, but is just a boy who makes doe-eyes at Catherine. The romance also goes from zero to 100 really quick. The pair meets, they kind of flirt a bit, and then they’re suddenly both willing to throw away their lives and futures for each other? I don’t think so. There was no buildup to the romance and I feel like there must have been a couple scenes cut out that would have helped this along.
Okay, I’ll stop ragging on this book completely because there were some parts that I really did enjoy. It’s always a joy to revisit the weird and wonderful world of Wonderland. Meyer is obviously a fan of Carroll’s because the book is filled with references to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The world she builds fits in so well with the Wonderland we know — it’s silly and mad, but with a hint of darkness that is appropriate for this story. Also, the last 50 pages or so of the book were absolutely fantastic. Catherine’s fully-realized Red Queen is a force to be reckoned with and I loved every minute of it. The way the book wraps up is just so perfect and was very satisfying for me.
I feel like I have so much more to say, but have already toed the line of spoilers with this review. Have you read Heartless? What did you think? I know that this is a popular one, so tell me what you liked!