For some unbeknownst reason, we over here in the UK have to wait until February for Heartless to be released. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC, and so now my review is coming at a strange in between place – where the US readers can relate (if they’ve read it), and the UK lot – as well as anywhere else it’s not released yet – are still waiting eagerly.
I find that kind of interesting, for some reason?
Let’s talk about Heartless!
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books
Series Status: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Number of Pages: 464
(Found on Goodreads)
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.
*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review
I’m not even sure how to go ahead with this review. I have so many conflicting thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. But that’s as far as it goes. Because it was also sort of madly disappointing.
I liked the premise behind the story. Finding out people’s backstories is fascinating to me. Finding out how they became the person they are, how they reacted to certain events, which moments were important in making them who they are…that’s always interesting to me. And with this being an Alice in Wonderland retelling based around the Queen of Hearts, seeing inside the “villain’s” past…HOW COULD I RESIST?
Unfortunately though, I was a bit underwhelmed with Catherine (the main character).
And when I say underwhelmed, I mean SHE FRUSTRATED ME TO NO END.
She just complained. All the time. And I know that’s what we as humans tend to do, but like…I don’t want to read a nearly 500 page book of it? I honestly think I’d have enjoyed it so much more if it lost between 50-100 pages. OR if those pages were dedicated more towards conversations between Catherine and the King. We’re constantly told about how annoying he is, with phrases like “they leaned into each other whenever he said something particularly annoying” (not a direct quote) – and yet there never seems to be any examples or full conversations that were actually irritating? Sure, he was childish, but nothing made me hate him. It made me wonder if Cath was just overreacting.
While reading, I was coming up with so many scenarios where Cath was suddenly going to turn around and do something epic, stand up for herself or flip the situation to her own benefit. But no. We went from the wonderfully kickass characters of The Lunar Chronicles, to Catherine – a whiny girl constantly complaining about how unfair her highly privileged life is.
Though I did like how a huge part of her personality revolved around her love for baking. I always associate food with Wonderland – something about tarts and the “drink me” bottles? – and so seeing so many characters appreciate cakes, tarts, pies, cupcakes, any assortment of dessert was actually really nice.
Though her mother’s comments on Catherine whenever she so much as ate one bite of cake REALLY bothered me. I don’t think people realise how little comments can be harmful, even to readers. If you have self-esteem issues or mental health issues when it just comes to food in general, then I would say be wary of this one. It’s not a massive part of the story, but even the small comments made me uncomfortable and have stuck in my mind, so I just wanted to give this warning.
While the story was somewhat dull, with Catherine just complaining all the time, I will say that it definitely picks up about halfway through. I sped through the last 200 pages. The events got livelier, more magic and strange oddities became apparent in the world of Wonderland, and even Cath became more bearable.
I do have to say the setting of Wonderland was probably my favourite thing. Really strange happenings would be mentioned casually, as if it were normal and needn’t be questioned…because of course, it IS normal in Wonderland. There were frog people, talking animals, magical food, mad hatter tea parties, dreams that grew trees. But all this is normal, of course.
And in the midst of this magical world, the atmosphere is constantly changing. Seriously, the feel of this book in the beginning compared to the end…well, it’s a completely different story. I loved seeing how far the story had come. With it being a retelling, this isn’t the sort of book you read to find out the ending. You probably already have an idea of how it’s going to end. No, you read it to find out how the ending came to be. And it was interesting, I’ll give it that.
I think I’d have just enjoyed it more had it been a bit shorter. Less complaining, more of the actions towards actually doing things. And it would have been great. But unfortunately for me, it was just that little bit lackluster, though still a decent book.
Rated 3/5 stars
Share your thoughts!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
If you haven’t, is it on your TBR?
Which edition will you get? US cover or the UK one?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
Come and visit me!