Heartless | Thoughts
I'm wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one. Critically, Heartless is well-written and the story flows well; I was never bored.
But, well...let me sum it up.
This is a story about dreams that do not come true, missions that fail, love that does not conquer, courage that comes a little too late, broken friendships that are not mended, and familial bonds that are abandoned (if they ever even existed in the first place).
While I am more than fine with stories that do not have traditional "happy" endings, this one was a bit too much for me. Literally, not one pleasant outcome, and our MC is left a cold shell with no heart. Granted, this was an origin tale of the evil queen of hearts, but holy shit could one tiny thing have worked out okay? Would that have killed the story? The reason I originally wanted to read this was because I thought to get a different ending than the one we all know - other reviews raved about how Marissa Meyer only took inspiration from the original and worked her own tale from there. I can see how that is so, but as we're left with the exact same character we've always known, with every new dream Meyer worked in dashed to pieces, man was this book downright depressing.
I've never been a huge fan of Wonderland, Lewis Carroll's writing aside. It's always seemed to me to be more sad than entertaining, to be honest. Half-creatures and madness and riddles with no answers...what a terrible existence to be trapped in. So perhaps that's why I'd hoped Meyer would give us a little more hope for the characters I've always felt a little bad for - even the evil ones.
I haven't read any of Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, and unfortunately I don't see myself starting. I can tell from Heartless that she is well-written, and I didn't find much fault technically. However, there were several instances where the plot was weak, suffering for the sake of romance. After Cath's first *real* tea party, there is a terrifying event with a tragic end, and yet the two love birds actually agree to forget about it so they can have a googly-eye moment.
"'Then let us not end our night with talk of dreadful things,' she said, and though there was a sting of guilt at her words - how could she dismiss what had become of the brave and gallant ****? - it was refreshing to think back on the music and the hats and the tea that had come before."
Um, okay - let's just forget about the life your friend sacrificed for you because it's unpleasant and not suited for the moment you want to have with your beau. Isn't that one of the BIGGEST problems Cath has with Hearts in the first place? That everyone would rather turn their heads and forget tragedies and move on with silly parties instead?
The plot is stretched in order to push Cath and Jest together, and suffers serious lulls when it is not focused on their secret courtship. Then, to have the outcome be so miserable...what was the point of half-assing the events that drew them together initially?
I suppose that's my whole issue with Heartless...What was the point? If you'd like another visit down the rabbit hole and enjoy the rather mad ramblings that are classic to Carroll's writing, dive in! Just don't get too attached to any one character or dream. Also watch out for some hints to The Raven, which I actually did enjoy despite being an odd mash-in for this tale. But Meyer worked the riddles nicely, and Raven quickly became my favorite rook. *wink*
"'Good eve, fair lady, your forgiveness we implore, to come so brashly tapping, tapping at your chamber door.'"