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Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer // VBC ReviewHeartless
Marissa Meyer
Published: Nov. 8, 2016 (Feiwel & Friends)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: library

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Before she became the decapitating obsessed Queen of Hearts, she was Catherine Pinkerton, daughter of the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, and she loved to bake. In fact, her dream is to open a bakery with her best friend Mary Ann. Cath quickly learns that there’s a reason they’re called dreams when reality comes crashing down. Catherine has recently caught the eye of the King of Hearts who is currently looking for his Queen.

On the evening when it’s rumored the King will propose, Cath is introduced to the mysterious new court Joker. In meeting Jest, Catherine feels true attraction for the first time, and begins to realize that maybe she doesn’t have to live the life everyone else wants her to live, that maybe her dreams are possible.

But in the Kingdom of Hearts where monsters run wild, and magic twists and turns with delightful madness, Cath will learn that everything has a price, and it all leads her down the path to infamy.

The best thing that Heartless has going for it, and by far my favorite thing about the book, is the setting. Of course, Marissa Meyer had great source material to work with, but she does such a great job in expanding Carroll’s Wonderland. I loved her take on this “before Alice” era. Seeing early renditions of many of the classic characters and the whimsy of the magic was really interesting.

However, I found Catherine an extremely difficult character to like or understand. I think knowing her fate at the end of the book, knowing what she becomes, kept me from forming any kind of empathy for her. I don’t think it helped that I thought she put herself in many of the bad situations she found herself in. The King wasn’t some evil tyrant who forced Catherine’s hand under penalty of death, she sort of falls into her predicaments because she feels it’s what expected of her. Things then kind of begin to spiral from there, which feeds into the idea that I’m not entirely sure I’m on board with the events that lead to why Cath becomes the feared Queen of Hearts.

There was also the fact that, while I did like Jest, I felt like we really didn’t get to know enough about him. So, when their relationship begins to get serious, things just didn’t click for me. I think that had I felt that pull between Jest and Cath more, the result at the end of the book would have had a more emotional impact for me, but unfortunately that was kind of lacking.

As I mentioned above, there are quite a few recognizable characters in this story, and one of the most interesting was Hatter, of the later to be Mad variety. I thought his backstory was compelling and loved his connection to the Queen’s story. Good literature not only takes you on a journey away from the norm, but it also makes you think, and Heartless makes me think about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with slightly new eyes. It puts a nice perspective on the story we already know. While I’m not sure about the choice of the Queen of Hearts’ early life being centerstage, I do appreciate the addition Marissa Meyer adds to this universe.

Sexual content: kissing

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