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Heartless Review – Alice in Wonderland Retelling by Marissa Meyer

Out of 10

Heartless Review – An Alice in Wonderland Retelling by Lunar Chronicles Author, Marrisa Meyer

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Lewis Carroll would likely be shocked at the sheer number of Alice in Wonderland iterations that exist in the world today. Many try, many fail.

Marrissa Meyer, author of the highly praised YA Scifi series The Lunar Chronicles, performs this feat marvelously by spectacularly capturing the voice and style of this beloved childhood story. All your favorite characters are there, the cadence synchronizes near perfectly, and her nuanced nods to Carroll’s expert. However, Meyer disappointingly trips at the finish line with vexatious insta-love, so often found in modern YA, and a disappointing plot climax choice.

I admit, I expected more from a favorite young adult author. I was not, and likely never will be, disappointed in her writing style – which is elegant yet concise and enjoyable to read.

Meyer begins this retelling with the introduction of our future Queen of Hearts as a teenager, dubbed Catherine, her family and our familiar cast of characters. She capably interweaves her version of the tale and expertly eludes to multitudinous moments, humor, and asides from the original story.

It would be a mistake to read Heartless without first familiarizing yourself with Alice in Wonderland. Without this exposure, the reader would miss out on a myriad of humorous recollections, references, and subtle jokes.

Voice and cogent references aside, any great villain backstory leads with one question: Why?

What happened to this person to make them behave so badly? What awful event turned them from human to villain?

It is Meyer’s answer to this essential question which leaves the reader feeling fleeced.

Her explanation, instead of adding fuel to the well-known Queen of Hearts fire, throws on a wet blanket, diminishing flame to barely a smoke signal. Were I able to speak to Meyer (or her editor), I would have suggested a more honest ending. One in which the pain and subsequent anger could be understood enough by the reader to explain the Red Queen’s infamous fury. I found the plot climax and resolution an astounding disappointment and well… wishy-washy.

The true shame in this ending is that I adored the book until the last 75 pages. I formally request that they be removed and rewritten. YA is for young adults, yes, but it should still reflect harsh truths – especially in the case of this world famous brute, our Queen of Hearts.

Curious to find out for yourself? Click the cover to learn more:

Good Things

  • Fantastic references to the original
  • Meyer's undeniably enjoyable writing style

Bad Things

  • Insta-love
  • Bad choice of plot

The Breakdown

Writing Style

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