At the end of the year, we always get some of the most anticipated releases! And I think that for most YA fans, Heartless by Marissa Meyer is right up there. We fell in love with The Cinder Chronicles and now she is back, taking on Alice in Wonderland in her own unique way.
Heartless is the story of Catherine, a young girl who lives in Wonderland and dreams of becoming a baker. However, Catherine's parents believe she is too good to work and needs to marry an eligible bachelor - and no one is more eligible than the king. During their courtship, Catherine meets the court joker, Jest, and the two start a secret relationship. Trying to open her own bakery, finding out how to be with Jest and living in a kingdom that is fighting the Jabberwocky is enough to make anyone go mad...
Heartless started off for me in the same way as Cinder did: cliché and slow. However, just as with Cinder, this works amazingly for the story in the long run. When you start reading the story, it seems like another cliché reworking with Alice in Wonderland characters and I was so sure I could predict exactly how Catherine's storyline would go. Shame on me for not knowing Marissa Meyer better than that by now. Just as with her other novels, Heartless is a rollercoaster from beginning to end and I really enjoyed the twists that were included.
It is no spoiler to say that Catherine becomes the Queen of Hearts (it is mentioned on the back of the book and the cover makes it pretty clear) and having that knowledge made this book very interesting to read. Catherine begins like any other girl from Wonderland, just one who happens to be an amazing baker and dreams about opening her own shop. Passages about her future dreams are heartbreaking, because as a reader, you know that it will never come true.
While I enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland references (I'm a huge Alice fan), I sometimes wished there was more description of them. On the one hand, it worked well to make Wonderland, which is a normal world for the characters, seem so ordinary. On the other hand, Wonderland is such an unique setting and it is a shame that there wasn't more detail about it. This tale takes place years before Alice shows up and it would be nice to see how Wonderland evolved during the Red Queen's reign.
Besides that, this book was an amazing read. It is original, yet is true to Lewis Carroll's world. It is in the same vein as the Cinder Chronicles, yet shows a whole new variety of characters. It is comfort reading with enough twists to keep you guessing. Just as her previous books, Heartless isn't absolutely perfect, but the characters are so engaging that you can't help but fall in love with them. Now if only someone could convince Marissa Meyer to make this a series too!