Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Alright guys, I gotta be honest right now…I didn’t like this book. Trust me, it kills me to say this since I love Marissa Meyer SO much. She had a big part in getting me back into reading all those years ago and showing me how good YA can really be. I love everything about her writing style and the things she did with The Lunar Chronicles was outstanding. But this particular retelling was lacking the magic I once saw in Meyer’s writing. I’m not really sure why this didn’t work for me when it honestly should have. A favourite author? Check. A favourite genre? Check. Fairytale retelling? Sign me up. I tried so, so hard to like it and it just didn’t work out. Oh well.
- Honestly, I liked the world that Meyer built on here and it was probably the one thing I liked about the book. I loved how whimsical and magical Hearts felt and how it was full of so many different kinds of people and creatures. It was like humans and animals, and even cards, all coexisted but it’s not something that’s questioned or thought to be out of the ordinary. I liked hearing about the different areas of Hearts and neighbouring kingdoms and just see this one portion of, what I’m assuming is, Wonderland. Meyer is good at making or building on worlds, I’ll give her that for sure.
- I think the main reason I didn’t like this book was because I felt like it was lacking Meyer’s typical magic and it didn’t feel like she was making this retelling her own. When you look back at The Lunar Chronicles and see how Meyer took all of those fairytales and wove them into this one beast of a series you see how good of a writer she is to have been able to accomplish that. She created this mashup of sci-fi fantasy with classic fairytales and the spin she put on them really showed me that they really were her own stories. But here? I didn’t see any of that. I get that this is supposed to be a prequel to Alice in Wonderland but I just didn’t see any kind of big liberties that Meyer usually takes and it didn’t feel like a true, original retelling. Catherine was a girl who lived in Hearts who would eventually become the queen. We know this and not once are we surprised to see this be the outcome. But she didn’t have the originality that Linh Cinder had by being a cyborg, or what Harper from A Curse So Dark and Lonely had by living in modern day Washington. Nothing jumped out at me to say “look at how original I am!” Even when I look at Tiger Lily I know that Jodi Lynn Anderson made it her own by a) making it about Tiger Lily and b) bringing reality to Neverland and even a historically accurate plot line. I personally don’t feel like Meyer did the things what I think a retelling requires and it makes me sad.
- I wasn’t a giant fan of the characters in this book. I guess Jest was fine, and Catherine started out to be rather lovely, but as time went on I borderline couldn’t stand them. Her parents were some of the worst characters I’ve encountered in a while, the king was more sad and pitiful than anything and I felt like he didn’t deserve the things Catherine put him through, and the Hatter was, well, mad. But the thing with Catherine is that I knew this was going to be her big villain origin story but it felt like she got there in a nanosecond, changing her personality like the flick of a light switch. When she thought she lost Jest the first time all she did was pout and snap at people, and the second time was even worse. It seemed to me that she went from 0-100 real quick in an overly dramatic fashion. Again, I get that the point was seeing how she became the evil Queen of Hearts but was it actually worth it? Does the loss of love really turn you into that? I don’t know but I expected something more and whatever I saw between Catherine and Jest didn’t merit that kind of behaviour.
- I hate Alice in Wonderland. I really do. And I’m pretty sure that’s why I didn’t like this book, no matter how hard I tried to like it. I never liked it before, I refuse to watch the Disney movie, and I’m never going to like it in the future. Why I thought this would be different I’ll never know.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- I’m almost positive the reason I didn’t like this book was because I’m not a fan of the source material of the retelling. Not Meyer’s fault, but my own. However, that being said, I also feel like this was not Meyer’s best work and it ultimately shows me that maybe prequels aren’t quite for her, either. I’m just glad that I read this after reading all of her other books because it would really make me question reading anything else by her. But it’s ok, she’s still killing the YA game if we just ignore this one.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Pages: 453 (Hardcover)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!