Heartless by Marissa Meyer
ARE YOU READY, KIDS?
If you didn’t just go, “Aye, aye, captain,” you clearly didn’t grow up with a yellow sponge named Bob who wore square pants. He was not very clever – and neither was the show – but people still loved it. I was somewhere between meh and eh for it (don’t hate me!!)
Anyway, that has absolutely no bearing on the book I am about to review. Be prepared, because I’m about to throw down some major fangirl musings – and then actually a few critiques (le gasp, I know!) – and then probably more fangirling. The Book Princess has it bad for Meyer’s writing.
Let’s start off with the basics: Heartless is a book about the Queen of Hearts before she went all nutty and off with their heads. Alice is nowhere to be seen in this book, since we’re taken back to when Catherine – the Queen – is just a young teenage girl with a dream to become a baker and open a shop with her maid. But those dreams may be interrupted with the new fact that she is being courted by the very lovable yet very stupid King of Hearts. When Catherine goes to one of the King’s balls, she accidentally stumbles upon Jest, the new and very mysterious court joker who is pulling more than just rabbits out of his hat. They soon begin to develop romantic feelings for each other in the midst of Catherine’s courtship to the king, Jabberwock attacks, the lurking Peter Peter, and so much more. Will these two ever make it through? And just what happens to make Catherine the Queen we all know and despise?
I’m not going to lie – I’ve never been a fan of Alice and Wonderland. I haven’t seen the
Tim Burton movies, I haven’t seen the cartoon version of the Disney one in ages since I was not into it as a kid, and I’ve only skimmed parts of the novel. Wonderland has never been my wonder, yet this book had me enthralled and wondering why I never got into Wonderland sooner. It’s a place of impossible things, and I was dazzled by the creativity Meyer had and the original creativity Lewis Carroll had. I’m still not a major fan of it, but I will be more than willing to pick up another book featuring Wonderland now.
I saw a few reviews so far that this is a mainly character driven novel – and that would be correct. Besides the Jabberwock attacks that happened throughout the book, there are really no major plot points. There are events and activities but are they essential to the storyline to progress? No, but what was were the characters. Meyer creates such intricate characters that you get invested in their story, their background, what will happen to them (and their romance??) that you don’t feel the need to have a strong plot that is moving the story along. It focuses on them, which is perhaps why the beginning can be seen as a bit slow, but by the time you get invested in the characters, you’ve begging for more.
While speaking of the characters, I suppose I should get my one giant critique out of the way here. I know, I know, shut the front door, the Book Princess actually has a sort of negative-ish comment about the goddess Marissa Meyer? I do, sadly, and I am ashamed of it.
My comment is that I didn’t get into the characterization as much as I wished I had for Catherine. I liked her well enough, but I didn’t exactly want to root for her as much as I did the other characters. I just felt some sort of disconnect from her. Perhaps she was too aloof? In Meyer’s other novel showing us the villain’s side of thing, Fairest, I did feel much more Levana aka the Evil Queen than I did for Catherine – and I actually liked Catherine. I just felt like I couldn’t get fully behind her as the main character and it wasn’t even in the parts where I was supposed to start not liking her, I suppose. I just wish I didn’t have a barrier between us, and I’m not entirely sure why it was like that. And I think that’s the main reason that while this book is a five star, it won’t go down as a favorite.
I will say, though, that the romance between Catherine and Jest was one of the best parts of this book. The feels hit me so bad. I loved the interactions between these two, and I would whip through the pages just to see if I could get a glimpse of the joker. He was absolutely amazing, and I just want to get one of my own Jests. I’ll even take him with that stupid hat on – those jingles would irritate the pants off me. He was easily the best part of this story, in my opinion.
As I said, the characters were the overriding factor of this book, and you do get most of your favorite Wonderland characters – and even a few more from other fables and works (the raven from Nevermore by Edgar Allen Poe threw me for a loop but I was into it). You just don’t get Alice – which I was totally fine with – and it’s an interesting way to see how all of these characters developed into who they are in Alice’s book. I loved seeing how Meyer made them all dynamic, so they were consistently changing so the final part would be how they needed to be for Wonderland.
As usual, Meyer’s writing style was amazing. So was her imagery, characterization, and plot ideas. I never questioned anything – although it got super crazy at the end that I honestly did ask myself, what the heck am I reading right now?? – and there was a logical flow. If you love her work, you’ll be pleased. And don’t compare it to The Lunar Chronicles. I didn’t do that (due to my terrible time with the Grisha triology which I constantly compared it to Six of Crows), and truthfully, you can’t do it since it’s so different than her other works.
As I said, this is definitely a five crown book, it did just miss a little something – perhaps my investment in Catherine fully – to get me into it all the way. It is a book that lives up to its hype, and I can’t wait to see what Meyer tackles next. If you have not read any of her work, you should, and this is a fantastic addition to the Wonderland genre. This isn’t TLC, but it still is great. Lastly, this book definitely shows why Meyer is one of the reigning queens of YA.
Check it out:
What were your thoughts? Have you read Heartless? Is there someone out there to just fangirl over Jest with me?