Heartless by Marissa Meyer
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—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.
Heartless has been a book that has sat on my TBR list for years. I have admired the beautiful cover, imagined how Meyer could create a spin on the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. I loved Meyer’s ability to create a story after having read the Renegades series. I was unable to find excitement in the Sci-Fi adaptation of Cinder. But I thought this standalone may be worth it.
Had I not read this book on Audible, I would have gotten to my breaking point, closed the book, and more than likely sat it on a shelf to be forever a DNF. The audible reader made the book somewhat able to be stomached, however her fake British accent was often unsettling.
Lady Catherine is an incredibly talented and aspiring baker in the kingdom of Hearts. Where she would rather own a bakery and live a simple life, her mother has other plans: marry the king and become Queen of Hearts. Catherine’s parents are absolutely unreasonable and honestly written unrealistically; typical cliché of unreasonable parents in stories and movies that leave you rolling your eyes.
The King is a flat character, poorly developed – but I suppose that was the choice given you are not meant to like him anyway – and acts like a complete oaf.
The Joker. Ah, I found myself craving for more development of his character. He is the obvious character that you want Catherine to be with, however there are outside forces (her parents and their class status) that will not permit so. He is the mysteriously introduced character that captures Catherine’s heart, has earned a quick spot next to the king, and has more tricks up his sleeve than one can imagine.
There are numerous plots within the story that are left poorly inserted or leaving the reader pining for more. There was such a strong focus on stupid baking and Catherine wanting a bakery, that classic aspects of the Wonderland world that were added were poorly supported. The Jabberwock appears to be the overall antagonist of the story, however it is given but a few chapters and forgotten for great lengths of the story where a monster of is magnitude should be given at least half. The three sister-witches-I can’t remember what they were called, were given but a small introduction, and yet they apparently have the ability to predict everything perfectly? A character from the White Queen’s Kingdom is sent to Hearts on a mission to steal the heart of the Red Queen before she can be queen. But why? This is poorly explained, even though it practically bypasses the Jabberwock problem, taking center stage of Catherine’s stupid attention over other issues.
Common characters from the world of Wonderland are the Cheshire cat, Hatter, Caterpillar, the Knave, and many others. I appreciated the connection Meyer made with Heartless and the poem of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.
There were small moments in this book that I found enjoyable. But the action in the book was not really given until the last maybe quarter of the book. There was more focus on baking, Catherine not getting the bakery she dreamed, not wanting to marry the king, woes about her parents not understanding her, woes of her heart pulling towards the Joker.
The ending was a decent conclusion to draw Catherine to the Red Queen we know – to bring her character to her sad villainous persona. To give an answer to her infamous line, “Off with his head!”
Overall, a 2.5/5 stars but rounded up.
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Have you read Heartless? Do you have a favorite Disney retelling? Or perhaps one that brought you disappointment?
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