First of all, I apologize for the late review. I’ve been trying to stick to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and well, I totally messed that up this week!
With that out of the way, I’m so excited to vent my thoughts on Heartless with y’all, so here goes!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. 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 a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
“Fascinating, isn’t it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same.”
Heartless was nonsense and magic. It was delightful and strange. It felt like Wonderland. I’d wanted to read Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before to have a reference point and to compare accuracy, but I eventually decided against it so I’d have an excuse to read Heartless again. (I have my priorities straight…obviously.) In any case, I’m excited to catch everything the second time around!
Heartless hit the spot between four and five stars. It was visceral at times and it affected me the way only five star books can do. But at the same time it was disappointingly slow—a four star kind of characteristic. I decided to be kind and push it up to five stars, and hopefully by the end of my review I’ll have shown you why!
Heartless felt like what Caraval was supposed to be. It had an air of whimsy and impossibility without sacrificing seriousness and elegance. Does that make sense? The playfulness didn’t take away from believability or sophistication. Granted, the plot was weak, but I’ll get to that later.
Meyer’s ability to write male characters remains her strength. Jest and Hatta were fully realized characters with authentic personalities, flaws, sorrows, and mystery. They didn’t feel like caricatures when they could’ve so easily been made into them. Personally, I thought Hatta’s arc was stunning, but I always feel that way about the characters who walk the line between hero and villain. (Kaz Brekker, I’m looking at you.) That didn’t minimize the excellence of Jest’s arc or role, though. He was the main male protagonist, after all, and he was written splendidly.
The writing of female characters, however, fell flat. Catherine’s characterization was nothing like the characterization of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, or even Winter. She wasn’t a character I wanted to root for. I didn’t feel like she deserved the good that happened to her, which sounds harsh, I know, but it was how I felt nonetheless. Her development as a character was put on hold until a climatic event suddenly pushed into a very sudden, striking change that was a little too sudden and striking to be believable. It was necessary, though, to turn her into the character she was supposed to be eventually (she is the Queen of Hearts, after all), but it could have happened slower, smoother, and more naturally.
The only other aspect of the book that was disappointing was the plot. Which is kind of a big disappointment when I think about it. I’m okay with slow paced stories, but I still like a plot to be…existent? For three hundred pages, the biggest conflict was whether Catherine would accept the King’s proposal or follow her heart and be with Jest. It was maddening. (No pun intended.) I was looking for a larger overhead theme or problem…something. Some other plot points didn’t make logical sense, and I didn’t see how one incident especially would motivate Catherine to make the choice she did… The last hundred pages sped things up, though, as things began to connect, and I thoroughly enjoying seeing the threads come together to introduce the Wonderland we all know.
I know I always talk about it, but I have to take a second to write about the worldbuilding here. Because it was AMAZING. It’s not my favorite fictional world, no doubt, but it was beautifully crafted and so well done. The aura of the world blended perfectly with Carroll’s, and was a treat for the imagination. It had a distinct feel and unique quality and I savored every minute in it.
The romance was sweet and heartrending. I never felt like one character deserved the love of the other (ahem ahem) but overall, it was a beautifully crafted
torture for the reader romance.
At first, the general tone Meyer used in her writing came across a bit pretentious, but after a while I got used to it and really enjoyed it. It fit in perfectly with the needs of the story.
All in all, Heartless was a delight. It wasn’t particularity enchanting, but that’s all right. (Or should I say, mostly right?) It wasn’t meant to be an intense ride; instead it focused on the pain and consequences of heartbreak. It was beautifully done.
Is it okay for me to read?
Language • • • • •
D**ning is used once.
Violence • • • • •
Mild violence. Characters fight the Jabberwock and eventually slay it; some characters are injured in the process and one man is murdered mercilessly though little to no detail is depicted.
Sensuality • • • • •
Characters flirt and kiss.
Substances • • • • •
Characters drink wine on occasion.
For more about my content ratings and what they mean, click here.