So exam week is here and unfortunately, I have no choice but to pick the only book I’ve been able to read this week and that is : Heartless by Marissa Meyer.
Now, I’ve read Marissa Meyer’s work before and to be honest, I found the series Lunar Chronicles really entertaining. The interpretations of the classic fairytales were brilliant and it was just the right amount of science fiction and fantasy. Not to mention, it totally reminded me why I love YA.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that I expected a lot out of Heartless , Meyer’s take on the story of The Queen of Hearts from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.
Here’s a brief summary:
Heartless follows the story of Catherine Pinkerton, daughter to the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove of the Kingdom of Hearts. She’s an innocent, kind little lady who dreams to open a bakery with her best friend and handmaiden, Mary Ann. She, unfortunately, is also the subject of the king’s affections, and that changes things in her life. We see her fall in love with a lowly court joker, Jest, a mysterious and amazing jester with a dark secret, while she’s being courted by the King against her wishes. She’s left in a dilemma where she can neither disappoint her parents, nor can she give up on her dream and her heart. In the midst of all this, there’s the Jabberwock, a nightmare from a fairy tale come to life in the little kingdom of Hearts.
The theme of the book is interesting enough and to add to it, when you first pick up the book and turn it around, there’s this one line there:
‘Before she became the Queen of Hearts, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love…’
And boom! there goes the hook.
If you’re a person who frequents the genre of YA like I do, this is all you need to pick up the book and dive right into it.
The first thing I noticed about the book was the writing style. It was different from what Meyer had done before, and yet, it was absolutely fantastic! You can literally take the book and use it as a guide to help you out with the nuances of the aspects of style and plot in creative writing. It was textbook. It was captivating. It is unlike books like When the moon was ours, where the poetic style of prose is what’s captivating. The style in Heartless is absolutely prose-like and yet, it has a brilliant rythm to it.
The characters were another plus to the book. I liked how Meyer played with certain characters like those of the Hatter, the Jabberwocky, and the Hare and left some of the most iconic characters like the Cheshire cat true to their identities. The mixture of the old and the new is what kept the book interesting. Also, there is a mild arc with every character that was slow enough for it to seem like nothing, yet, wide enough for you to be able to discern the differences. The best part, though, is that each and every character is absolutely flawed and a bit weird. And that’s what makes them so relatable and human. There’s no one in here that I would call ‘good’ and, for once, I liked not having someone like that in the story.
The plot of the book is quite interesting, overall, although it did seem a little draggy in places. The overall pace of the book was also a little uneven and not very impressive. The side arcs in the story were interesting but somehow, I didn’t really feel like they added to the beauty of the world of Hearts in any way. After Lunar Chronicles, I was really waiting to be knocked off my feet and I was left slightly disappointed.
While there were parts I enjoyed a lot, and to be honest, the whole ‘Murderer. Martyr. Monarch. Mad’ arc at the end was absolutely brilliant, I felt like there was something missing in the whole experience.
I felt like the whole was slightly lesser than the sum of its parts.
That being said, I enjoyed the dark turn the story took in the last couple of chapters much more than the rest of the book, though, it was, I admit, a little sad. I also loved how Meyer kept to the tradition of word play that made Carroll’s Wonderland so much more awesome.
So, all in all, it wasn’t a great read. But it wasn’t bad either. To quote Meyer herself, it was just mostly right.
So if you’re bored and if you like YA or if you’re in the mood for some fantasy, I’d say it’s not a bad book to choose.
After all, who doesn’t like to hear the Mad Hatter innocently ask the question: Why is a raven like a writing desk?