Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Heartless was one of those books you seem to constantly see and hear about in the months leading up to its release. If I'm honest, I hate when that happens. I end up hearing far too much about the book and how incredible it is, the hype makes my expectations rise to ridiculous levels and then the book can't live up to them. It happened with Caraval and it happened here. Don't get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book, I just feel I might have enjoyed it more if there had been less hype and I'd heard less about it before I got to read it. Plus all the warnings about this book and how it made people feel made it all so predictable, so it never packed the same emotional punch it would have if I'd gone in blind. There was so much I did enjoy about this book, especially the world and the characters. Not forgetting Meyer's fantastic writing, she definitely breathed new life into the world of Wonderland.
First, I must talk about the writing, it is utterly glorious! Meyer really brings the world of Wonderland to life, I could visualise it all so clearly in my mind. Her food descriptions are heavenly, she basically had my mouth watering almost the entire time I was reading. I feel she added her own style to Wonderland, one which I personally loved. This is where I have to admit something... I have never been an Alice in Wonderland fan. The Disney film was always one of my least favourites, and I didn't enjoy the book either and really didn't get all the fuss over the Tim Burton adaptation either. If I am honest, the whole story is just too strange for me. So I was happy to discover that Meyer could write a Wonderland that I'd absolutely love, craziness and all.
Meyer also does a fantastic job with the characters here, ones you will recognise from the Alice in Wonderland stories and also some completely new ones. I think the best way to do this is to look at my thoughts on some of the individual characters themselves.
Cath: Of course I must start with the Queen of Hearts-to-be herself. She is a really likeable character, especially in the beginning of this book. She's funny, kind, determined, a dreamer, plus she makes delicious desserts and that just instantly makes me want to be best friends with her. I had a lot of sympathy for Cath, she was stuck in a very tough situation. Meyer has created a kind of Victorian style Wonderland in terms of the society, with a woman's future being determined by who she marries and how that will benefit her family. Making decisions for yourself isn't something afforded to the women in Wonderland, unless you want to find yourself rejected by society and wind up destitute. So I did feel for Cath, especially in terms of the pressure put on her to enter into marriage with the King. However, she does also happen to be a truly frustrating character, I found myself wanting to reach into this book and shake her on multiple occasions. Having to watch her stay silent for so long really bothered me. You understand why she does it, but it is hard to read. It felt like she brought so much on herself, so much so that by the end of the book she had lost a lot of my sympathy.
|Me with Jest & Cath|
The King: I absolutely hated the King, which is really the entire point of his character. He is just so passive and useless, the worst kind of person to be in charge of ruling a kingdom. I also found his character super creepy, as he unashamedly and doggedly pursues Cath, a young girl half his age. Not to mention that he comes across as a total idiot and at times talks like an exciting toddler. Yes, it is understandable why Cath doesn't want to marry that man.
Cath's parents: Some more characters that it is very easy to hate. These two are people of their time, strict in sticking to what society expects of them. They're so certain of themselves and that they know what is best for Cath, what will maker her happy, even though they have absolutely no clue. It's really hard to read books with a Victorian style society, as it is so horribly sexist. Reading a book where you're basically watching parents pimp out their daughter to man half her age is uncomfortable at best. I did not like these two at all, I wanted the Jabberwock to swallow them both whole.
Mad Hatter & The Cheshire Cat: I really like how Meyer decided to play with these classic Alice in Wonderland characters. Cheshire was basically perfect, so sarcastic and superior, he was so spot on and had the perfect cat personality. I am sure if my cat could taken then she'd basically act the exact same way. Hatta was less fun but I adored him as he was the only person willing to call Cath out on her bullshit, her complete inability to fight for what she wanted and for her unfair treatment of Jest. Honestly, he made me want to put the book down and applaud him as finally someone was saying what I was feeling.
Overall, I found Heartless was a really enjoyable read but I didn't completely love it. I actually really enjoyed Meyer's Wonderland and it worked so well for me. However, I did feel this book was much too long and with very little happening for most of the book. A lot of the story is Cath bemoaning her situation, but doing absolutely nothing to change it. It gets tiresome hearing her whine for hundreds of pages whilst taking no action. I did thoroughly enjoy watching Cath and Jest fall for each other though. Personally, I felt the end was a bit manic after so long of nothing happening, and a certain event felt so blink-and-you'll-miss-it that it didn't pack any kind of real emotional punch. There was a lot to like about this book, but aspects I wish were different and would have made it a much more enjoyable read.