Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Heartless, by Marissa Meyer

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4.25 stars

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 is one of the most imaginative, well-written, and likable books I have read in awhile. And twisty, very twisty. I’ve been in a bit of a ‘disliking streak’ throughout March, as I’ve rated nearly every book 2 stars or 3 stars. I feel as though none of the books I’m reading lately are truly wowing me, but this one definitely did up until THAT SHITSTORM OF AN ENDING. More on that later, y’all. I’m still kind of rage-y.

Heartless is essentially a re-telling of Alice In Wonderland, which follows Catherine Pinkerton, the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, who lives in the kingdom of Hearts. Cath is constantly courted by the King of Hearts, and prodded by her parents to fulfill their dreams by marrying him, but Cath is far more interested in finding her own destiny and finally opening up the bakery she has always wanted, along with her friend and servant, Mary. After meeting Jest, the new court joker, at the royal ball, she feels a strong attraction toward him and they both become closer and closer in secret. But, Cath’s destiny is already much more planned out than she had ever imagined as she gets wrapped up in wave of intrigue, magic, and mystery.

The perfectly atmospheric writing: Meyer’s storytelling is as effortless, fun, and beautiful as ever. It’s incredible how every single moment of this novel is perfectly and intricately described, from the event, emotion, and expression. This aspect doesn’t even make the book boring or overwrought with details because of the way Meyer combines more serious writing with true entertainment. She gets the balance between darkness and light, imaginative and realistic, so right. I honestly came into this book thinking it was mainly a forbidden romance that equal parts speaks of 19th century societal issues, and while it is and does just that, there are tons of darker, more mysterious elements to up the plot and action. None of these aspects out-do each other, managing to not only create a perfect story, but a perfect retelling. There are many original characters of Alice In Wonderland incorporated into the story, including Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and even a reference to Alice herself falling down the hole. While the story doesn’t surround Alice, the same whimsical and imaginative vibe is present in Heartless. 

The most likable yet flawed cast ever: Meyer’s characters never disappoint, so I’m not surprised that the characters are my favorite part of the novel. Every single person in this book, even the minor characters, are so well-described and defined. From the snobby Margaret Mearle to the childish King of Hearts, none of the characters feel wasted or lacking in identity. Everyone has a realistic presence and contain so much life. The main characters are so likable and honest despite their flaws. I loved Cath’s ambition and passion, as well as her subtle haughty, petty attitude. Her struggles toward following her dreams and defying society’s roles were so realistic and relatable, especially concerning the time period she lives in. She tends to be a bit too spotlighted throughout the story, but remains likable due to the masterful character writing. Jest is one of the most charming male leads ever, you can’t help but fall for him, and Hatta’s complexity and overall nature is also well-done.

That adorable romance: Heart eyes, y’all, heart eyes for this couple. They just fit together so perfectly, and you can sense it right off the page when they first meet. Their actual romantic relationship develops later in the book, but their subtle flirtations, witty banter, and overall charm is so abundant that I partially wanted them to stay in that “I think I’m falling in love with you” stage. There were moments, of course, that dealt with their angst and their discussion concerning the fact that they couldn’t be together, that were frustrating in the best way possible. What is also frustrating, in not a good way though, is the end result of their relationship, which I cannot expand on because spoilers. But nonetheless, FAVES.

*sighs* when everything turned to shit:

Marissa Meyer,

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Those last few chapters were such a 180 from the original atmosphere, and while Cath’s character development is to be acknowledged (in a good way or bad way, I honestly don’t know how to feel) during those taxing last pages, but there was absolutely no resolve to it. I can’t spoil things for you guys, but I’ll just say that I was nice in docking only 0.75 of a star. That ending destroyed everything for me, but I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the rest of the book so I held back. I’m still hella angry though.

Overall, Heartless was a thoroughly enjoyable story, and I can definitely see myself re-reading this in the future. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an entertaining yet mysterious retelling, Marissa Meyer style.

-Haven

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