Heartless by Marissa Meyer
★★★★ — 90%
What even did Marissa Meyer do to me this time???
I want to reread Heartless, but I also know better than that. Villain origin stories are sad enough already…I don’t need to read one twice knowing FULL WELL what cruelty is coming my way. ASDFJKLASJK HELP ME.
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 was agony and tears and pain and happy squishiness AND YES, SO MUCH MADNESS. It felt like Wonderland and I need moaaar. (Ignore the fact that I have no credibility whatsoever because I haven’t even read Through the Looking Glass or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to really know. HA, LIFE. I also probably missed about 9659.3 references, but everything’s fine EVERYTHING’S FINE !!! I forget to read a classic and all it does and haunt me and bite me like a bad dog.)
Heartless hit the spot between four and five stars. It was visceral and affected me the way only five star books can do. (CRYING. MOANING. OUT LOUD.) But it was also disappointingly slow, and the shallow part of me that is really 98% of me cares a lot about that. I am that kind of reader. Yes.
The world of Heartless definitely keyed into my love of the story and felt like how Caraval’s world was supposed to feel. It was playful and whimsical, but still sophisticated and serious. I savored every moment I spent there and I really want to complain about something but I CAN’T. (Also, there were no hatbox-shaped, candy-colored shops that made me want to smash vases, so that’s a plus !!!)
Probably the only thing better than Meyer’s world-building was her ability to write male characters, which makes everyone happy until it makes everyone cry. 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. But I’m always looking at you, aren’t I?? #creep) 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. ABSOLUTELY. SPLENDIDLY. I need to see a therapist now, though.
The writing of the female characters, unfortunately, fell flat. Catherine’s characterization was nothing like the characterization of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, or even Winter. Her development 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. Oh, and I also almost hated her. So yes.
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 because PLOTS! Plots are very necessary. For three hundred pages, the biggest conflict was whether Catherine would accept the King’s proposal or not and I was not the happiest camper. But sure enough, something plot-like did show up about halfway into the book, and even though some of the plot points didn’t make logical sense, the last hundred pages sped things up, which made me very forgiving. :)))) (See? I smile too. I’m nice. :))) As things began to connect, I thoroughly enjoying seeing the threads come together to introduce the Wonderland we all know.
- The writing felt pretentious at first, which was weird for a Marissa Meyer book, but once I got used to it and realized it fit the story, I was a-ok.
- The romance was bad.
- I wasn’t a fan.
- But still, JEST
- The ending was mean
- REALLY MEAN.
All in all, Heartless was delightful + painful + adorable + I LOVED IT. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it or my favorite brand of tissues.
D–ning is used once.
Some mild, wonderlandish violence. Characters fight the Jabberwock (!!) and some characters get hurt in the process. One man is murdered.
Characters flirt and kiss.
Characters drink wine on occasion.