Title: Heartless
Author: Melissa Meyer
Rating: 2 stars

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: 2016
Pages: 464
Possible Censorship Issues: Violence, some magic, some thematic material

I wanted so badly to love this book. In fact, I would have been happy if I had just liked this book. Being a huge fan of Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was genuinely excited to read her latest novel dealing with the origins of Lewis Carroll’s character the Queen of Hearts. But unfortunately, by the final chapter, “heartless” adequately described how I felt about the characters, the plot, and the writing.

Beautiful aristocratic Catherine Pinkerton is singled out by the King of Hearts as the woman he wishes to marry, but not only is he undesirable, marriage to him would forever destroy Cath’s dream of opening a bakery with her best friend. One night at a ball, Cath meets the mysterious and dashing court jester, Jest. It is love at first sight, and the pair ultimately must decide whether to escape Wonderland’s constrictions and make their dreams come true in the distant land of Chess, or stay and protect Wonderland from the mythical Jabberwock.

To begin, all the characters were extremely shallow and two-dimensional, lacking any sort of originality or genuine interest. Cath is by far the worst of the lot. She is represented as a tragic character that is prevented by society’s rules from pursuing her dream of opening a bakery.  And if she had actually made more than a half-hearted attempt to do that instead of whining about how horrible her life was, I might have drudged up some sense of sympathy for her. Furthermore, Cath seems to posses an outstanding talent of being unable to make any sort of decision and to stick with it. She literally causes every single problem in the book and leaves everyone the worse for knowing her.  I couldn’t even support the love story because I could never understand what Jest saw that was attractive about her.

In addition to the poorly written characters, I was further “disheartened” by the utterly predictable plot. In a 464 page book, I accurately called the entire end of the book a third of the way through. The one part of the book I thought was clever (the origins of the mock-turtle) was ruined by the characters’ reactions to the event. Consistently throughout the book, characters remained ignorant of plot points that are painfully obvious to the reader. Instead of giving an air of mystery to the book, it simply made the characters seem hopelessly foolish.

Finally, the writing in Heartless just wasn’t comparable to Meyer’s other novels. The book’s pacing was sporadic—sometimes charging ahead, other times trudging along. The characters were extremely inconsistent and often acted in a manner at odds with their personality simply because the plot needed an action accomplished. Even plot and character development leaned toward nothing-at-all or everything-at-once—especially in the final chapters of the novel when multiple key characters exhibit complete personality transformations without prior intimation.

All in all, I was severely disappointed with this book. It had so much potential, yet fell short on almost every account. It’s far from being the worst book in the world, but it’s not one I will ever read again or recommend.



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