Author- Marissa Meyer
Publisher- Feiwel and Friends
Publication date- November 8th, 2016
A little dark, a little twisted, and so very heartbreaking, Heartless was such an amazing book. Brilliantly written and fabulously executed, filled with magic, humor, romance, it had everything you would want from a Marrisa Meyer publication.
A prequel to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the book is about the Queen of Hearts- before she became the cruel and psychotic queen, who was she? Cath was the daughter of a Marquess and Marchioness, whose passion was baking- she dreamed of opening her own bakery with her best friend and servant Mary Ann. However, her parents don’t consider baking a job fit for ladies, and instead want Cath married to the King of Hearts. To Cath’s despair, the King begins courting her, and Cath can do nothing about it. Instead, she has feelings for the court joker, Jest. Charming, kind and funny, Jest is the boy of Cath’s dreams, (quite literally). But no one can change destiny, and don’t we all know how this story ends…
What I liked:
I absolutely love the world Meyer weaves. She manages to make the Kingdom of Hearts such a dark place- everything seems perfect and everyone seems happy on the surface, but not many realize the ugly layers lying beneath, where all the problems in the kingdom are ignored and all the horrifying parts hushed up and tip-toed over. Even with these flaws though, Hearts is still a wondrous kingdom with many things to admire. I love how all the magical and fantastical elements are mentioned so casually in the book- a cobbler who is a caterpillar, flying pumpkins, and an invisible cat- even such extraordinary things don’t seem out of place but are completely normal. Although it is a prequel of Alice in Wonderland, and a lot of elements are drawn from there, Meyer makes the story SO original and unique.
Coming to the characters, I quite liked Cath. Not as much in the beginning, but I did like her. She’s a girl who dreams, who wants to be happy and make people around her happy, and she’s quite eager to please. But then, that is exactly her problem. She just never voices her feelings! Her mother controls everything in her life, from her clothes, friends, behavior, even her suitors! And Cath doesn’t do anything to stop it, at least in the beginning. There were so many moments when I felt like shaking her and screaming, “GROW A SPINE.” But I think that’s how Meyer meant to portray her in the start, because it shows how Cath becomes who she was in Alice in Wonderland. Near the end, Cath starts taking a stand and making her own decisions, making her a stronger character and showing her growth.
There are so many great characters in this book! Jest, the court joker. Wasn’t he just perfect?! Charismatic, funny, kind, and not to mention DIMPLES, he was the perfect match for Cath. Though I got annoyed with him at some parts where he encouraged Cath to marry the king, when you understand why he was doing so, it all gets cleared up. You can’t not love that boy and all his foolish antics. I loved Raven, who though wasn’t a very important character, was one of my favourites. I can’t say that I liked Hatta much, I don’t know, he just didn’t grow on me. Cheshire, with his wide grin and love for tuna, was awesome. Cath’s parents were awful and quite selfish, and the King was an absolute idiot. I liked Mary Ann in the beginning, but well, she didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought she was.
The romance was slow, sweet and very very shippable. However, it wasn’t very swoony, as in, it didn’t manage to sweep me off my feet- even then, it was very endearing. There was NO love triangle (thank god), that was quite clear right from the start. But the romance was definitely not the only thing happening in the book though! There were so many sub-plots, the mission of the White Queen from Chess, the formidable Jabberwock, Cath’s bakery, and all the mad tea parties and festivals. It wasn’t an all romance book, it was so much more than that.
And oh the ending! My poor heart. It was cruel and gut wrenching and horrible, and I don’t have enough words to describe how angry it made me. I knew it would happen, after all, that’s how the Queen of Hearts emerged, but it still broke my heart. It was so cruel, that I almost hated it, except that it was perfect. I love happy endings, but this is exactly what we needed to justify the sequel and the monster Cath became. It was fitting and perfect, yet so horrible. Meyer tugged on exactly the right strings- this was a book I wanted to rip into tatters, but also a book I wanted to frame and preserve forever.
What I didn’t like:
As I mentioned, I wish the romance had been more swoony, although it was very sweet, there was definitely something lacking. And I may be nit-picking, but I think Jest was just a little too perfect, a bit too much of the flawless hero. Other than that, it was a marvellous book, one I can read again and again!
4 stars out of 5, it was an amazing book, one which I recommend to everyone. And it’s okay if you haven’t read/watched Alice in Wonderland, even if you know just the basic outline or even just the characters, you won’t have any difficulty understanding this book.