Book Review · Young Adult

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

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The ‘re-imagining’ of classic stories isn’t a new, but recently the surge in this genre is noticeable. The popularity for old stories to be deconstructed and made into something fresh is strong. And you can bet every medium in media has taken notice.

The masses want to see the ‘new side’ to the popular story, get a beloved character’s backstory, or get a modern coating. Geez, the craving is so strong that Disney is now just translating animated classics to live-action.

Speaking of Disney, the current wave of popularity seems to stem from the show Once Upon A Time, which is pretty much the whole genre on speed.

The show on the whole is a mixed bag for me (sometimes I just hate watch it), but I have to give credit to some of the creative ideas Once Upon A Time has put forth, especially in regards to villains and how they are shaped.  Figuring out the inner workings of an iconic villain can be a lot of fun, while heartbreaking at the same time.

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Which leads me to Heartless, Marissa Meyer’s new book about Catherine, the woman who would become the infamous Queen of Hearts from the Carroll Lewis’ Alice in Wonderland.

I’ve been avoiding the high fantasy and fairy tale reimaginings over in Young Adult land, but I decided to get a taste of what all the buzz is about. I’ve heard about Meyer’s popular series The Lunar Chronicles and was on the fence about trying it out, so I decided to start with Heartless.

I was very optimistic going in, as I thought Heartless was a great opportunity to see what the author is about in one book, the story is centered around a pretty juicy villain, and the cover is beautiful, damn it.

What could possibly go… ah shit.

I know I’m going to break some hearts, but my honest opinion is that this book is boring. The first two hundred and fifty pages are pretty much a slog with just a couple of highlights. For a book that is set in such a whimsical world, I couldn’t believed how dull the experience was and how much I was just powering through chapters.

For me, another reason why Heartless was a snooze is I wasn’t on board for the main romance. This plot is ‘run of the mill’ and has been used over and over in other popular retellings, like Wicked and Once Upon A Time. Catherine’s character and journey is just so uninspiring.

Not that seeing someone fall from grace can’t be interesting, but this wasn’t it. I didn’t care about Catherine, your standard YA heroine, or the guy she falls insta-love with, Jest. The first character I found interesting was Hatta and he didn’t show up for… 200 pages!

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The best part of Heartless was the last fifty pages, and I wish Meyer was able to spread that energy throughout the book. With the ending I was both overjoyed and pissed: overjoyed because I didn’t waste hours of my life for nothing, and pissed because it is evident that Meyer has the chops and the potential to write something brilliant, but opted for mediocre.

Dang, the ending was so good that I bumped my score up a whole point because of it.

I really wished that I liked this book more. With everything going on in my country I needed a solid get-away, but sadly Heartless just wasn’t it for me.

Score: 5/10

In The Margins:

  • The score was also bumped up because it was better than the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie. That movie legit pissed me off.
  • Update (11/21): I’ll be taking the whole week off for the holiday! I don’t think my family will appreciate me typing away on Thanksgiving 😉 
  • With this book I completed my Goodreads challenge of 52 books! If I can get to 58 by the end of the year that would be totally awesome.
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