SOURCE: ARC sent by Publisher
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
RATING: 5/5 Stars
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favourite 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.
What I Liked:
- Let's take a look at Wonderland itself: a world, I feel, is pretty hard to get right. Most of the characters are supposed to be a little odd, yet while this weird behaviour works in Carroll's novels, it can be difficult to apply in modern-day YA without getting picked apart. Meyer struck the balance between creating weird and wonderful characters perfectly and still allowed for a fresh take on each and every setting while paying homage to it's original inspiration. I loved getting a deeper look into certain areas of Wonderland and how the social, political and historical contexts come into play.
- As I said, the characters were great. In particular, I enjoyed their complexities and the fact that they didn't necessarily fall into an easy YA Fantasy trope. The synopsis points towards a love triangle but it is not in the sense that you usually see in these kinds of books. I loved the fact that despite KNOWING how the story is going to end (this is after all an origin story...so not happily) I still felt like I could get attached to all of the characters and immerse myself in their stories. Not only did we get to see how the Queen of Hearts came to be, we gain more insight into the Mad Hatter (or Hatta here), the Duchess, the mock turtle, and of course the King who is never given much attention elsewhere.
- Meyer picked a good story for this book. Not too complicated but able to provide explanation for pretty much everything that we know about the Queen of Hearts (a fondness for baking, hatred of white roses, and need to decapitate everything and everyone she encounters, as well as some of her relationships with other Wonderland residents). It felt like a very well thought-out prequel to Carroll's stories and honestly could easily become a gorgeous movie. Meyer's wrote wonderfully as usual and her vivid descriptions of food certainly made me hungry!
What I Disliked:
- Really I can only write about minor quibbles here, such as the fact that while I enjoyed the whole book, the second half was much more engaging than the first and it took a little long to get to the point where I was totally hooked and chatting about it. Also, no one can say that knowing how the story will end didn't make everything I read sadder and those glimpses of hope more of a shot through the heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, while reading the final half, I spent the entire evening explaining to my poor boyfriend exactly what was happening, what that meant and how clever it was in relation to 'Alice In Wonderland'. Meyer put a lot of thought into expanding upon Wonderland itself and the characters that Alice is to meet later, while retaining it's original unique style and oddities. I totally shipped the romance in it too! It took a little longer to build the pace than I would have liked and it's known ending made me wary to get too attached at first, but in the end I just couldn't help myself! Another gorgeous addition to the fractured Fairy Tale genre where the original work serves as an inspiration so that Meyer still used her imagination and turned it into an almost original work that can be enjoyed outside of Carroll's works.