Fantasy

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Here’s the thing about me and unhappy endings in YA fiction – I can’t stand them. To me, YA needs to be like a Disney movie, with maybe more curses and romance and action and darkness, if needed, but it must end well to be enjoyed. That is not to say that I haven’t loved books with unhappy endings – John Green’s books are among my favourites, and I have zero complaints about the ending of the Divergent series. But. Generally, I avoid the unhappy.

This is the reason why I’ve yet to read Fairest, Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles spinoff novel, and this is the reason why I hesitated to read Heartless. However, I love Alice (who doesn’t?) and the Red Queen is an interesting character, so I decided to soldier on. I knew this book was about how the Red Queen became the person she did, which meant inevitable tragedy. I steeled my heart and started reading the first chapter… and found myself liking Cath, the young girl who only wanted to start her own bakery. All the descriptions of her pastries made my mouth water. And Cath is so sweet, so warm, so HOPEFUL, that I found myself thinking, surely nothing would go wrong, after all, this isn’t a direct retelling, the story could take an entirely different take…

And then, I was utterly heartbroken. Utterly. Heart. Broken. UGH.

I can’t recommend it to those who love their happy endings more than me, and Alice fans may enjoy A.G. Howard’s Splintered more, but I can say that Marissa Meyer’s writing is as addictive as ever, and this retelling is just as cleverly done as any of the Lunar Chronicles books. She balances the original tales and her own ideas/worlds so perfectly, and I love that this book, too, is rife with word plays and riddles and the occasional mathematical reference. And chess, of course.  Can’t forget the chess. And the Chesire Cat, he was such a jerk, I love him. And I liked the references to other works, like the nursery rhyme “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater”, and Poe’s “The Raven”.

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7 thoughts on “Heartless by Marissa Meyer

  1. Am I alone in thinking that the Alice books are not for tinkering with? Its essence is that it’s about fun and games, with wit untempered by wisdom. Alice doesn’t ‘go on a journey’ and find herself, nothing essentially changes. I found Maguire’s After Alice a huge disappointment for this reason, in that it tried to ape Carroll while simultaneously addressing ‘issues’ — which seemed totally out of kilter with the spirit of the originals.

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    1. Chris, you’re definitely not alone. While I enjoy all retellings, I don’t think any Alice retelling would ever come close to the real books – and right now I’m a bit leery of picking up After Alice.

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      1. I’d be really interested in your thoughts if you did read After Alice — it’s not all bad by any means but I was left feeling ‘What’s the point?’ after it. Have you read his Wicked? Would you recommend it?

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    2. I did enjoy Wicked, although I have to admit to liking the musical adaptation more (being a fan of musicals), and only reading three out of the four books in the series. Rather than a retelling or an extension of Oz, it just felt like a different take on Baum’s creation.

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    1. There are things I really liked about it, but I guess at the same time it’s not quite “Alice” enough? I’d still happily rec this to any Marissa Meyer fan 😀

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