Heartless Review (e-ARC)

heartlessBook: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published By: Macmillan Children’s Books

Expected Publication: 9th February 2017

Format: e-book

I received this book for free via Netgalley, this in no way affected my opinion of the book.

As always, thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for allowing me to read this book.

I had my first outing with a Marissa Meyer book earlier in the year when I read the first book in the Lunar Chronicles (on the urging of many bloggers), Cinder, and I wasn’t all that impressed, the characters and world felt kind of flat to me, but as soon as I saw this Queen of Hearts origin story, it sounded so good that I just had to read it, despite my lukewarm response to the author’s previous work that I had read and I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed it! I didn’t know if I was going to, given my experience with Cinder, but clearly Marissa Meyer has improved a lot since her first book. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

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.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.

My first tip when reading this book is to make sure you have lots of snacks on hand as there are lots of descriptions of food, and I found myself becoming rather hungry especially when reading the first few chapters of this book! It’s not the fastest starter, it did take a few chapters for me to get into the book, but once I was hooked, I was hooked until the end!

I loved Cath, I wasn’t expecting to because I knew how the Queen of Hearts ended up, but I couldn’t help it. She was a sweet, slightly strange girl who loved to bake but she has her sassy moments. She is a little weak willed initially, but this makes her transformation over the course of the book even more spectacular. She’s determined to forge her own path in life even if she’s a little unsure and you can see, even in the beginning of the book, some hints of the fiery Queen she’s going to become. The fact that Cath is so likeable in the beginning just makes her transformation even more saddening.

I loved Cheshire (the cat, obviously), he had a personality of his own and was just so damn entertaining to read about, I actually wished we could have had more of him, because he was one of my favourite parts of the book. Cath’s parents were truly awful, especially  her mother, who just seemed to want to micromanage her life. I liked her Dad at first, but he did seem like he was kind of a pushover.

There was the occasional spelling mistake in there, but it was an uncorrected proof so that’s likely to happen. Other than that, I actually really liked Marissa Meyer’s writing style in this (unlike in Cinder when I felt it was rather bland), it was fun and whimsical and vivid, you could really picture Wonderland and it felt very fitting for an origin story of a Louis Carroll character.

I loved the little references to Alice in Wonderland, the story felt enough like it’s own piece that it wasn’t like reading a complete rehash (I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever read the original, but I know the story well enough), but there were nice little nods to the original story here and there which I appreciated, I especially loved the bit where Cath said “We’re all mad here”. I also liked the Poe references with the raven (and I’m glad I was actually right when I saw that the Raven was meant to be a reference to Poe!).

I loved Jest, he was smart and sarcastic and funny and charming and I loved his relationship with Cath. I thought they had a very natural chemistry and I liked their scenes together, so despite not usually liking romance-centric novels, I did enjoy this one even with the romance focus simply because I thought the romance was well done and believable. That first scene in the garden with Cath and Jest may be one of my favourite meeting scenes ever!

I really liked Mary Ann and Cath’s friendship, it was lovely and I was sad when it had to go belly up (even though I knew it would because hello QoH) because I love seeing positive female friendships in books. Still it was lovely whilst it lasted!

I couldn’t decide if I liked Hatta or not, I kept going back and forth, sometimes he was lovely, other times he was really sinister, but I did like how Marissa Meyer developed his character into the Mad Hatter that we know from the original Alice In Wonderland, his descent into madness was pitched perfectly.

I loved all of the Masquerade ball scenes, I have a severe love of balls (I included one in my own WIP YA fantasy), so every time there was a ball in this book, my heart did a little happy dance.

It did feel a little rushed at the end, there was a lot of action all crammed into the last few chapters, I would have liked it if it was paced more evenly throughout, though it’s just a small thing as I did love it for the most part.

The sexism in this book did drive me a little nutty at times, I would say that’s what you get with a Regency-type setting, and I guess it was important to the plot, but since this was a fantasy, I don’t think the sexism towards Cath and Lady Mearle and all the other women in this book was entirely necessary.

The King was a complete idiot, though I have to admit, I didn’t really understand why Cath hated him so much. Sure he was kind of cloying and overbearing and spineless……actually okay I get it. I would hate him too! His love for Cath though seems kind of unfounded, I mean aside from liking her pastries, what did he know about her? Had he even spent enough time with her to like her so much? I don’t know, I just didn’t get exactly why he seemed to love her so much when he barely knew her.

I would have liked to have seen more of Chess, where Jest and Raven came from, I get that it probably wouldn’t have fitted in the story anywhere, but I just would have liked to have seen the other side of the Looking Glass as well.

There were bits that minorly confused me, I’m still not entirely certain whether Raven is a man or a bird and I don’t entirely get how Cath’s deal with the sisters worked and the whole Margaret and the Duke thing was a little strange (though I totally ship them) but these didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I loved the end. Yes it was heartbreaking, yes I would have loved it if everyone could have had a happily ever after, but it was completely fitting. Plus there were some nice twists and turns along the way to get there that I didn’t see coming. Overall, Heartless was such a weird, wonderful and wild ride, with a fabulous cast of characters (though seriously, there only seem to be like 5 or 6 humans in Hearts?!) and I enjoyed every second of it (even the soul crushing ones).

My Rating: 4/5

I don’t know what my next review will be as this is a pre-scheduled review, but you guys will find out soon enough, I’m sure!

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10 thoughts on “Heartless Review (e-ARC)

  1. Analee @ Book Snacks February 2, 2017 / 12:20 am

    You’re right, the end was kind of heartbreaking but so so fitting, in my opinion. And omg the FOOD in this. I swear, this book was out to make me crazy with want for all its desserts. ❤ I wasn't the biggest fan of Cath's for the a while but I did love Cheshire!! ❤ He was amazing haha. Lovely review!

    • iloveheartlandx February 2, 2017 / 10:35 am

      Yes it was very fitting. YES, the FOOD! I WANTED TO EAT EVERYTHING. It took me a while to warm to Cath as well. Yes, Cheshire was awesome. Thank you!

  2. justanothercreativewriter February 2, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here. The ending was a bit rushed and unexplained and I wanted to see more of the world that was created because it felt mean of Marissa Meyer to dangle it in front of us that there were other places and then not take us there. However I loved the references and how Cath developed.

    • iloveheartlandx February 2, 2017 / 11:00 pm

      Thanks! Yes, it did feel a little cruel! Same here 🙂

  3. SERIESous Book Reviews February 3, 2017 / 12:50 am

    Glad you enjoyed it! I’ve seen mixed things about this so I wanted to know what you think.

    I’m not a huge Wonderland fan myself so I’m glad this isn’t a totally rehash!

    • iloveheartlandx February 3, 2017 / 3:52 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad my opinion means something to you 🙂 No it’s definitely not a total rehash!

  4. Michelle @ FaerieFits February 3, 2017 / 5:18 am

    Great review! I agree with pretty much all of this. The one thing I’d add, from my perspective, is that I LOVED the beginning (and yes, you need snacks on hand for sure), but as things progressed I found myself growing less enamored with the book in general. It’s like there were little things that I stopped being able to overlook because there were so many, if that makes sense? Things like “why does the king even like Cath so much?” and some of the other development things you alluded to. And then we got to the end and, well, it almost felt like Meyer wanted to do a duology or something but went “No, I’m doing a standalone!” and crammed everything in. Also, I REALLY wanted to see Chess. And we were SO CLOSE!

    I did LOVE the descent theme for both Cath and Hatta. I thought both were really nicely done, especially since they weren’t all right at once, but more gradual. Like how Cath started saying some of the phrases of the Queen of Hearts earlier on in the book, and how she progressively got more and more of a temper as she grew frustrated with everyone’s lack of caring/king’s lack of doing things. I could TOTALLY see myself doing that too! Though … maybe not going quite SO far as she did at the end?

    I LOVED the Poe references. And the Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater nursery rhyme (which I was SUPER proud of myself for figuring out BEFORE they started talking about pumpkins!). They seemed kind of random, but they TOTALLY worked.

    I have to admit I was somewhat critical of this book in my own review (just went up today too! Timing! Haha) But overall I did really enjoy it 🙂

    • iloveheartlandx February 3, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      Thanks! I have to admit I agree with that, I loved the start, things got a little dicey in the middle, but then I really enjoyed the end, so that made up for it. Yes that was very well done, and it felt like Hatta and Cath’s descents were very well done, it felt like they almost paralleled each other in a way? I have to say I agree on that, it did feel like she meant to do a duology and crammed it all into a standalone. I would have loved to see Chess too, I don’t get why we didn’t! The Poe references were great, but I totally didn’t get the Peter Peter thing! I’ll have to check out your review!

  5. lindseyhabets February 3, 2017 / 8:19 pm

    I saw a few mixed reviews for this one so I’m so glad you liked it! I hope to get to it soon as it was one of m most anticipated releases of last year 🙂

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