With a Jabberwock, crazy hats, and the makings of a notorious villain, Heartless by Marissa Meyer “heads” in the right direction.
Heartless focuses on Cath, the daughter of a Marquis who catches the attention of the King of Hearts. Cath, however, does not want to marry the King. Instead, she hopes to open the best bakery in all of Hearts with her best friend and servant, Mary Ann. Cath is forced to attend all of the King’s events to ensure a marriage proposal, but there she meets the King’s court jester who sweeps her off her feet.
Overall, I really liked the characters in Heartless, even though some of the side characters were very stereotypical. Cath is a relatable main character who struggles to stay true to herself, but also not disappoint her parents and friends. Her character really develops throughout the novel in order to become a heartless villain. I really enjoyed watching her relationships with the Cheshire Cat, Mary Ann, and the other side characters within the novel.
As for the her love interest, Jest, I think there was much to be desired. Although Jest was a nice character, I never saw any depth in the relationship between him and Catherine. They fall in love at first sight and most of their relationship only consists of many longing glances and a few cute moments. Cath’s young age explains why she would drop anything to run away with Jest, but their relationship doesn’t really stand out among other YA couples.
For the pacing of the novel, the first three-fourths of the book moves slowly, but I still enjoyed it. Meyer does a great job including the best parts of Wonderland, but also giving her own spin on it, similar to the fairy tales in the Lunar Chronicles. I especially loved how she spun the “painting the roses red” aspect of Alice in Wonderland. My only complaint would be the end of the novel where it sometimes verged on too cartoonish. I could picture the sisters with the masks and the moment where whole “heartless” title comes together as a scene from a movie with bad CGI.
Even though I had some problems with Heartless, I really enjoyed Cath’s story and Meyer’s portrayal of Wonderland. I absolutely loved the last page and reread it several times before putting the book down! I give Heartless four out of five stars.