My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Actual Rating: 3.5
I used to review books right after I finished them. I don’t do that anymore, and it’s because of books like these. The first half of Heartless was slow and didn’t seem to have much relation to the plot; it focused mainly on the romance. But the second part was action-packed and captivating.
The story takes place in Wonderland, long before Alice’s arrival. Catherine’s only dream is to open a bakery with her best friend, but her parents won’t let that happen. Not when she has the potential to become Queen. When Cath meets the royal joker, Jest, she feels, for the first time, love. But there are countless obstacles standing in her way; as Catherine struggles with her own identity and emotions, it feels as though her own fate is slipping out of her hands…
Like I said, the second part of the book had a lot of plot, but when I look at the book holistically, it almost seems as though the plot wasn’t even the main point of the story. It seemed like a device to get to the ending the author was shooting for.
At the beginning, when I was reading chapter one, I was already doubtful about whether or not I would like this book. Catherine’s lines were a little cringeworthy and it seemed like she talked about nothing but food. I did like how this meant we got a glimpse of her personality at the start, but I also have to say that I didn’t like her much. She seemed spineless and indecisive.
The characters in this book are definitely very unique in terms of personality (which makes sense considering that the setting is Wonderland). At the same time, however, I wish that I could see more of them. For example, the King was ditzy and mindlessly naïve, and I hoped that I would be able to see why and see more of his backstory. Unfortunately, in the long run, I don’t even think he had a significant part in the book and it seemed like he was there only as a plot device, to advance Catherine’s own character arc. Characters like Cheshire also had so much potential, but it just wasn’t explored enough. Mary Ann and Cath’s parents seemed to also just exist as motivations or pushes for Catherine to do something and move along; the way they acted seemed even a little repetitive, and they seemed like props, not like people who had their own stories to tell. And what about Margaret Mearle and the Duke? It seemed as though there was something to them getting together, but in the end, nothing really happened.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews complaining that the book was hard to get into, and I have to admit that I felt the same. In the beginning, I felt like Jest and Catherine just didn’t seem to have the sort of spark that I looked for in fictional relationships, but I pushed till the end, and it was so worth it.
Of course, Marissa Meyer herself is the queen of retellings, and I enjoyed how she ties together different rhymes and riddles into the story. The writing style definitely was engaging, but because of the slow part, it was hard to get into it.
I also want to point out just how much I love the ending. It was mind-blowing and so ingenious – although it did break my heart into a million pieces. And for that reason, I rounded up to four stars.