This week, I read the book Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I was so excited to read the book. I had heard such great things about it. In fact, I even bought the book instead of borrowing it from the library. I was so excited to read it, but my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.
Heartless is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It focuses on the girl who would become the Queen of Hearts.
The description on Amazon 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.”
Sounds promising, right?
My biggest problem with the book is the main character, Catherine. They say that she is one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, but I didn’t see any reason why she was. Catherine was whiney. Everything about her annoyed me. Seriously. I know that she becomes a villain, but there was nothing redeemable about her. I had no idea why the King wanted to marry her.
Well, it seems that the King wanted to marry her because she could cook. Again, I didn’t understand why he was so obsessed with her. Was there no one else in Wonderland who could make pastries AND have a decent personality?
I couldn’t believe that her baking was that good that anyone would want to marry that insufferable human being.
Nonetheless, she still wasn’t the villain of Wonderland that I had loved to hate in the original novels. I kept waiting to see what incident Meyer would create to turn Catherine into the horrible Queen of Hearts. That had to be the main plot point in this backstory, right?
Wrong. There really wasn’t anything that happened. Just all the sudden, she turned evil. It was like she just decided to be evil. There was really no explanation.
The best part of the book was Jest, the jester who for some reason falls in love with Catherine. Since he is a jester, it is quite scandalous for him to start dating a girl who is matched with the King. Meyer tried to make him Wonderland-like by giving him yellow eyes. Way to ruin a character. Even though he was the most interesting part of the book, he was still so boring that I don’t even have anything to say about him.
I loved the idea of this book. I loved Alice in Wonderland, and the thought of a Wicked-esque backstory for the Queen of Hearts. There was just something missing for this novel. It didn’t seem like Wonderland. It was missing that sort of zany setting. In fact, if I didn’t know it was a Wonderland story, I probably wouldn’t have figured it out until the middle of the book. Really, the only Wonderland elements were things taken directly from the original- the Mad Hatter, the Jabberwocky, the playing card people. Nothing was really added to the setting that made it feel like Wonderland. I had hoped for more.
The story was slow. I wanted more from the plot since I wasn’t getting anything from the characters or setting. There really was no point to the story. I had to focus myself to keep reading. Several times, I almost did not finish, but I powered through. I kept telling myself that it would get better, but it didn’t. It really didn’t.
Maybe I had too high of expectations. Maybe I should have just stopped reading when my eyes rolled when the first chapter droned on and on about how good of a baker Catherine was. Maybe it’s me and not the book. Regardless, I expected more from this book.