Monday, November 7, 2016

ARC Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 464
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Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. 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 an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

I'm going to be honest - I almost didn't read this book. Some friends had read it and really didn't enjoy it, especially in comparison to The Lunar Chronicles. But one day, in the mood for fantasy, I decided to give it a try and I knew within 20 pages that I was going to love it! I will warn you, this is not The Lunar Chronicles. (It's better.)

Catherine is the leading lady of this story and all she wants is to bake with her best friend and maid. Unfortunately, her parents have other plans for her. Catherine meets Jest the joker on the same night that she finds out the King of Hearts intends to ask for her hand in marriage. Together, Catherine and Jest manage to strategically delay the king's advances while they unintentionally grow closer together.

I loved Jest and Catherine, together and separate. Catherine is a strong, independent woman who is determined to live her life in a way that makes her happy. While she does have some issues with indecision, her goal never really changes. There were a few times when Catherine got under my skin. She made a few decisions that were absolutely ridiculous. I know this was done in order to get her from innocent baker to ruthless Queen of Hearts, but there were still some moments that were difficult to read. Jest is mysterious and magical and wholly unselfish. I swooned. The two of them together are so adorable it hurts!

I also adored several of the secondary characters, not least of which was Hatta (the hatter) who was as perfectly (nearly) mad as you'd expect. The Cheshire cat is also there along with the White Rabbit and the Hare (spelled Haiga). And, of course, a Wonderland story wouldn't be complete without the Jabberwocky. Each of these characters is familiar although they all have backstories you probably haven't heard before.

My absolute favorite thing about Heartless is that it is Wonderland. I felt like I had been dropped right back into the world I love so much and Marissa wrote it flawlessly. The world had just the right amount of madness and whimsy that made me want to crawl back to it every single time I got a chance. I loved the world of The Lunar Chronicles but this one surpasses it, in my opinion. Somehow this is the Wonderland we know while also being something unique and exciting with something new around every corner. Although we never get to see it, I also loved hearing about Chess and the war between the Red and White queens.

But let's talk about the plot. From the very beginning I wondered how in the world Catherine could possibly become the Queen we all love to hate. As the story went on and I got more and more invested in her and Jest, I became increasingly nervous about where it would all end up. Although I knew how things must end, I was still shocked more than once. Let me just say this book ripped my heart out but I enjoyed the journey so, so much! Marissa Meyer did a fantastic job of giving this villain a backstory that made her entirely sympathetic, which isn't surprising at all after reading Fairest.

So in case I haven't made it clear, I love this book. I could go on and on and on about all the things I loved, but I don't want this to become a fangirl post! Suffice it to say this is a book I will most definitely be reading multiple times, just to go back to Wonderland and see Jest again. I highly recommend Heartless to any fan of Wonderland who wants to know more about where the Queen of Hearts came from. Don't go into this expecting The Lunar Chronicles though! This is is a whole different animal!