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Prequel fails to fulfill expectations

Anna Mason, Staff Writer

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The principal problem with “Heartless” is its protagonist, who fails to give readers anything to cheer for.

I had high hopes for Marissa Meyer’s newest book, “Heartless”. As the best-selling author of the “Lunar Chronicles” series, Meyer has proven her creativity in reinventing classic fairy tales. However, “Heartless”, the fantasy genre novel which is meant to be a prequel to Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland”, lacks ingenuity, an absorbing plot, and above all, a compelling protagonist.

“Heartless” is meant to depict the events that transformed Catherine, a sweet, simple teenage girl, into the vengeful Queen of Hearts. In the very first chapter, we learn that Catherine’s one dream in life is to open a bakery. Her parents, on the other hand, wish her to marry the ridiculous King of Hearts, a fate she desperately wishes to avoid after she falls in love with the mysterious court joker called Jest.

The first 300 or so pages are completely tedious and monotonous, doing little to advance the plot, besides the few mentions of a fearsome beast known as a Jabberwocky terrorizing Wonderland. Cath attends balls, falls in love with Jest, and meets some of Wonderland’s more whimsical characters, including the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat.

“Heartless” would have done better to focus more on Jest’s mission, and the war occurring in the kingdom of Chess, rather than on superfluous details such as what ball Cath is attending next.

Meyer’s descriptions of Wonderland are imaginative and outlandish, but leaves readers yearning for more. Cath’s dreams leave lemon trees and roses growing in her room, and the characters partake in a delightful game of croquet involving flamingos and hedgehogs. Meyer also delivers on mouth-watering descriptions of Cath’s desserts, but missed countless more opportunities to exhibit her originality.

Cath’s most irritating feature by far is her inaction. She constantly complains about having to marry the King, while simultaneously remaining passive and doing nothing to control her own destiny. She is not strong-willed at all, and even accepts the King’s proposal at her parents’ urging.

“Heartless” finally becomes engaging towards the end, as tragic events culminate into Cath, driven by a desire for revenge, becoming Queen of Hearts and beginning her reign of terror over Wonderland.

The vindictive Queen of Hearts is a far more intriguing character than the naïve Cath at the beginning of the story who spends her time baking cakes and dreaming impossible dreams.

Rating:

 

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