Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 453 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Source: I bought this book myself
Buy it on Book Depository
If you read my post 5 Books Coming Out This Season That I Can’t Wait To Read, then you’ll know that I’ve been dying to read Heartless. Why? Well, first it’s Alice in Wonderland related and I guess the name of my blog speaks for itself. To be more specific, it’s all about how a young girl with a heart full of dreams became the heartless Queen of Hearts (see what Marissa Meyer did there?). And then there’s the cover. I know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but c’mon, how can you not love it? I must admit that I had some major fails before – be aware, cute covers don’t mean great stories – but Heartless did not disappointed (although there were a few things that could have been better but we’ll deal with those later).
I already gave you a brief introduction but let’s tell you more (without giving too many spoilers :p). Catherine is a young girl with the dream of opening a bakery. She has all the talent and passion required, and a friend to do the maths of the business for her, but she is also a member of the gentry and having a daughter as a baker is certainly not in her parent’s plans. Then there’s the King of Hearts, who is so passionate about her desserts that he wishes to make her his wife. However, the King is certainly not the kind of husband Catherine desires for herself and being a queen and a baker is certainly not manageable. But then Jest comes along. He’s the new court joker, someone who appeared out of nowhere. Catherine feels increasingly attracted to him, but he too has other plans for her.
I have yet to read The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and this was actually my first retelling so I read it purely because it was set in Wonderland, compiling some of my favourite characters – especially Chesire. I loved Chesire because he’s such a cute cinnamon roll, and he had all the usual and really cute cat behaviour that made him irresistible (I wanted to hug him so bad!!!!) but he was so cunning at the same time and he said such beautiful things. The best quotes in this book are actually from him – check this one out:
“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”
I really enjoyed the world building as well – although I know that a lot was taken from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, I still think that Meyer took it a step further. Behind all that Wonderland nonsense there was a beautifully built Victorian setting, from the clothes, to the balls and even to the rules of courting – I think that added quite a fun element and a bit of spice to the story, especially in the romance part since it was all forbidden and such. By the way, since I just mentioned clothes, I must emphasise that Catherine has probably one of the most gorgeous wardrobes ever, not to mention her wedding dress! I want one like that!
Nevertheless, the greatest aspect of this book is that we know the ending from the very start – we all know the ruthless Queen of Hearts, right? However, the story starts off with a happy young girl baking lemon tarts and dreaming of being a baker. It’s such a huge difference that you just have to keep on reading and reading until you find out what made her such a cruel being. It was also really interesting to discover the origin of certain things that are iconic to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, such as the White Rabbit’s pocket watch, and how the Hatter turned mad and why the Queen of Hearts hates white roses.
Well, unfortunately not everything was perfect… If you haven’t read Heartless yet then you better go no further because I really can’t do this part without revealing some major spoilers.
I do think that everything started going downhill from the time Catherine accepted the King’s proposal and then Jest just stormed into the ball and she ran away with him. From that point onwards the story just seemed a bit rushed, like Meyer herself was dying to get to the end. First of all she kind of ruined foreshadowing by having The Sisters saying exactly what would happen next. But maybe I’m being unfair cause, in a way, that did add some tension to the story because Cath knew what she was getting into but she still did it anyway. Basically it was a bit of “Don’t say I didn’t warn you”. Which was also annoying because she knew what was going to happen and she was still stupid enough to think that she could avoid it somehow.
Now, this is the REAL SPOILER so look away if you haven’t read Heartless yet. The moment I felt was most rushed was Jest’s death. The writing had been quite consistent throughout the whole book with good amounts of description, mixed with action and dialogue, but in this part it all seemed to vanish (the way Chesire does :p). I’m not saying that I wanted a more detailed description of Jest’s decapitated head, but I wanted more on Cath’s feelings. Yes, she does get really angry and revengeful after, but I wanted to know how she felt in that moment! I cared for Jest, he was a really captivating character and of course I didn’t want him to die, but his death did not make me feel as sad as it should. Taking into account that that was the event that changed Cath forever, that converted her into a cruel, revenge-seeking, heartless queen, it should have had a huge emotional impact on the reader, it should have made me cry! Meyer made us care for Jest, but not enough and she certainly didn’t make us care enough for Catherine and for her relationship with him. We might not feel heart-broken for Jest death, but we could at least cry because Cath lost the love of her life, but no – none of that my friends.
And then the book takes a creepy turn after that. Catherine kind of turns into a blood-thirsty maniac with pale skin and bloodshot eyes and then The Sisters come and rip out her heart like it’s nothing and there’ s no mention of a trail of blood spreading across her dress or the huge gash left in her skin. Catherine doesn’t even seem to care. I know that Jest’s death was shocking for her, but her change of personality was just too sudden and extreme. She never stood up for herself during the whole book (which is probably what caused all the mess in the end) but after Jest’s death she becomes soooooo sassy and bad-ass (which was actually quite amusing) and terrifyingly blood-thirsty. I guess that if Meyer had focused a bit more on Cath’s feelings at the time of Jest’s death, this personality change would have seemed less abrupt.
There was just so much angst in this last part of the book that it kind of makes us hate Cath, but I guess that was really the aim of the story – she’s the Queen of Hearts, after all.
Again, lots os SPOILERS ahead.
Some things happened in this book that left me with sooo many questions. If you have an answer or even just a mad hypothesis please do share cause I’m dying for some closure. So, here it goes…
Catherine managed to take the Vorpal Sword from Jest’s hat. Later, he tells her that “it’s been passed through the Chessian royal family, generation after generation (…) Supposedly, only one with royal blood can wield it.” Catherine wield it before she was crowned Queen of Hearts! Hatta even says later on “It has to be you! (…) It answers only to royalty, love.” But she wasn’t royalty at that point yet!!! And then The Sisters tell her that they also made a drawing of her many-greats-grandmother. Now, this is the part where I might be going a bit too far, but I got the impression that The Sisters drew people they met, therefore, people who had crossed from Chess to Hearts or vice-versa. What if Catherine’s many-greats-grandmother was from Chess (and from royalty) and then, for some reason, she went to Hearts?
I’m not sure what this would actually mean to the story – I guess that if they had even gotten to Chess, Catherine might actually get a claim to the throne, but they never did so….
Well, these are just a few ideas so feel free to add some further madness to them!