Monday, December 19, 2016

heartless: stardust reviews


Marissa Meyer



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.

full review under the cut! 

 Obviously, a new Marissa Meyer has been on my radar since the very day that it was announced, so I was so excited to pick this book up when it finally came out! I love the cover oh so very much, and the hardcover has amazing designs on it as well! A gorgeous book to be sure! I'll admit, I am not the absolute biggest fan of Alice in Wonderland and its retellings, but I loved the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer so much, I knew that I had to give this one a chance.

I was definitely not disappointed. The world of this novel is so much more than just an Alice in Wonderland retelling. It is an entire land of magic and mischief. Everything about this book was so clever, and I loved the way Marissa Meyer wove in references to the original work, nursery rhymes, poetry etc, making the world altogether more satisfying. This book takes place in the Kingdom of Hearts, where the King of Hearts is unattached, looking for someone whom he can make the Queen of Hearts. Basically what this is is an origin story for the villain of Alice in Wonderland, and I just loved how clever all of the connections were. Hearts is a small kingdom that is populated by humans, talking animals, and hybrids. It is whimsical and fun, but the flip side of this is that the residents of Hearts don't know how to deal with hardship very well. They would much rather ignore anything unpleasant in favor of tea parties and balls. Within this gilded world of fashionable gentry and sparkling parties there lives a girl named Catherine, or Cath for short. She is the daughter of the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, part of the nobility. Her parents, especially her overbearing mother, wish only the best for her, a future that involves marrying the king or someone almost as high ranking and settling into a life of balls, parties, and simpering social involvement. Cath, on the other hand, who has a passion for baking, wants to open a bakery, something that would scandalize her parents. 

We open on this scene, and over the course of the novel, Cath realizes that she cannot stand court life, but that she also cannot bear to disappoint her parents. The book highlights the constant war between what Cath wants and what everyone else wants for her. She has very little freedom to make her own decisions, which was frustrating, and that's why it was so great when she meets Jest, the impossibly talented, handsome, and magical new court jester of Hearts. When we first meet Jest, I was expecting a ridiculous caricature of a person, something like the typical court jesters from a renaissance fair or whatever, but Jest was so much cooler than that. He is a magician and natural born performer, and he and Cath have an instantaneous connection. I really really loved the character of Jest. I thought he was mysterious and alluring, but not to the point where I was annoyed by his mysteriousness, if that makes sense. I liked that there was an instant connection between him and Cath, but that they didn't act on it until later in the book, once they had been around each other a few more times. I liked that there was conflict on both sides of the relationship, his and hers, and that he had his own backstory and worldview. I almost wished there was a little more romance, though, which is probably my only complaint with the relationship. Not that there wasn't any, I just felt like there was all this romantic tension, which I really enjoyed, then they admitted their feelings for each other, then there was the huge conflict at the end. We didn't get much chance to see their actual relationship play out before the end of the book, which I would've liked more of! 
I liked Cath as a main character, though there is a quality about her that is sort of unlikable. I like unlikable heroines, though, which is why I was content to struggle through life with Cath. She's pretty indecisive, and waffles throughout the book between asserting her independence and going along with her parents wishes, but I think that is understandable. As someone with a good relationship with her parents, I totally get not wanting to disappoint them. I loved reading the descriptions of the things that Cath would bake, that was mayve my favorite part of the book.  I thought Meyer did a great job of characterizing Cath through her baking. She was adventurous and most herself when she was in the kitchen, and through her creations we got to see the person that she really wanted to be, though she didn't really get the chance to be that girl. I was rooting so hard for Cath to get what she wanted, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a villain's origin story, so I knew the ending wasn't going to turn out the way I wanted it to. I mostly just ended up feeling so bad for Cath in the end. Her parents frustrated me to no end, and I loved the line that Cath said to her mother at the very end, about her happiness. Cath basically got blocked at every turn, by so many different people in the book, and I kept on thinking that if I were her, I'd probably turn evil too!! I guess that is why the book was awesome, because it made me truly understand why Cath turned out to be the Queen of Hearts that we all know. 

I thought all of the secondary characters in this book were SO GREAT. Even if I hated them, they were so well done. The weak king who I got so annoyed with, Cath's parents who sucked, Lady Mearle who also sucked, the Duke of Tuskany who broke my heart, Mary Anne who also broke my heart, Hatta who I had a love/hate relationship with, etc. I think that to effectively create the world of Wonderland, you have to have a ton of characters, some of which have to be recognizable, who are all super unique and different, and I thought Meyer did a great job of this. This book would not have been as colorful and would not have jumped off the page if it were not for the secondary characters, so I super appreciate them. 

Lastly, I felt like there was a ton going on in this book, sometimes I could barely keep up. There was the drama with the King wanting to marry Cath, the drama with Cath being in love with Jest but not being able to do anything about it, the whole catastrophe with the Jabberwock, the mystery about Sir Peter and his wife, the drama with the Duke and Lady Merle, and Cath and Mary Anne wanting to open their bakery. There were a ton of subplots, and I applaud Marissa Meyer for being able to keep up with them all and not let one take extreme precedence over all of the others. I do wish it had been a little less difficult to keep up, and that is one of the reasons that this is a low four star to me, but I do appreciate the difficulty of writing something like this. Another reason this is a low four star for me is because of the end. I felt like it was a little bit rushed and really sad, and while I know it had to be like that, it didn't stop me from hoping for the best haha! I definitely really enjoyed this book, and I could see Marissa Meyer's touch and extreme care in the story, but it wasn't as amazing as the Lunar Chronicles to me, which is one of my favorite series! 


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