Length: 453 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
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.
What I Thought
The best place to start any story is at the beginning.
It has been many, many years since I last watched Alice in Wonderland, and I’ve never read the books. I picked up this book not knowing what to expect from the story, but I love Marissa Meyer’s fantasy re-imaginings, so I thought it was worth a shot.
I think the fact that I didn’t remember much of the story improved my enjoyment of this book, because the pieces of the Lewis Carroll stories tugged slightly at my memory (enough to be fun), but not so much that they overshadowed the new story.
I enjoyed seeing characters that I already knew along with some that I didn’t, but overall I felt that the character development was very narrow. This is the main reason I took some stars off my rating. Events within relationships seemed to happen pretty randomly with not a lot of build up. There were some character traits that I really would have loved to see more depth in, and some where I felt like the lack of depth impacted the story line negatively. The love story felt very forced and sudden. Not in a “love at first sight” kind of way, but a “in love for no reason” kind of way.
I did not like either the protagonist or the love interest much. For a quick, light read, fine. But in terms of strength and depth, they had zero. Cath (protagonist) is a good baker, and at first we get delicious descriptions of cake and macarons (yum), but then that stops and she just becomes whiny and weak. And Jest (love interest) just keeps encouraging her, acting like she’s this super strong female who is so awesome, even when she is decidedly not.
The only character I really enjoyed was Hatta. It was fun to see him in a different light, and have a unique explanation for his madness. I felt that his character had the most understanding and depth of any in the story, and that he had a lot of intricacies going on in the background without overtaking the spotlight.
In terms of integrity with the original stories, I felt that Meyer did a good job. The elements of Heartless matched up well with the elements in Alice in Wonderland, and I loved how Meyer wove some new things into the familiar pieces. I think my favorite new detail was her discussion of Chess constantly being at war that would start over again and again…as if Chess was a real game being played by someone somewhere, and the pieces were leading real lives in upheaval due to it. There’s a book in that story line if you ask me.
Despite my rather negative review, I think this book is worth a read, especially if you are a fan of the original Lewis Carroll stories. It’s not deep, but it was a fun and easy read, and brought back a lot of childhood memories. Read it for the madness, but don’t expect much else!