Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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. "
Everyone remembers the evil Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, but who was she before she became the notorious queen? She was simply Catherine. Cath loves to bake delectable treats and her ultimate goal is to open up a bakery with her best friend, but unfortunately she is destined to marry the King of Hearts, whose company she doesn't enjoy. She can't help but be interested in the court's newest joker, Jest, who is the complete opposite of the king. But her marriage isn't up to her as her mother plans Cath's every move as she is of royal blood and can't just marry anyone. What will become of Cath? Marissa Meyer's Heartless is an interesting tale that fans of Alice in Wonderland as well as fractured fairy tales will enjoy. Even though it had its flaws, I still was glad I read it.
First of all, Cath is a straight up awesome baker in Heartless. The descriptions of her desserts had me craving them something fierce. Also, I appreciated her struggle between doing what she wants versus doing what is expected of her. I think this is a common theme in literature, but one that many readers can appreciate and maybe even relate to. Cath's mother has a plan for her and Cath's station in life requires more of her than to just open a bakery and date whomever. Obviously, Cath grapples with this dilemma as well as her feelings towards Jest.
Now onto Jest. He was an interesting character for sure, but I couldn't feel the chemistry between Cath and Jest. At all. It was such a slow, slow burn that it practically went backwards at times. This was my one main gripe with Heartless.
On the other hand, I thought Meyer's world building was fantastic. If you read the Lunar Chronicles series, you know what she is capable of and how she can build a world that readers are truly immersed in. Meyer accomplishes the same thing with Heartless. However, because I am not a huge Alice in Wonderland fan (in fact, I think it's a truly strange story), I really didn't warm up to it like other readers may have. So, if you are a fan of Carroll's wacky original story, you will definitely appreciate the parallels more than I did.
Ultimately, I think Heartless lacked the something special and unputdownable-ness that the Lunar Chronicles possesses; however, it was still an entertaining read and one that I think many teens will enjoy.