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In her first stand-alone novel, HEARTLESS, Marissa Meyer enchants readers with the prequel we never knew we craved for. Having only finished The Lunar Chronicles this previous year, it’s as if Meyer couldn’t wait to get her hands on another famous storyline. I was all too willing to let her.

Unlike her previous series, where we, as readers, were going off of childhood fairytales expecting happily ever afters, this time we knew there could only be one ending. Entering Wonderland through Meyer’s writing is as natural as one would expect to enter their own home. We don’t have to go through a Looking Glass or a Rabbit Hole. We are just there, in our protagonist’s kitchen, and nothing could be more warm or inviting than the smell of freshly made lemon tarts.

Catherine Pinkerton wishes for nothing more than to open a bakery where she and her best friend will supply The Kingdom Of Hearts with only the best pastries they have ever tasted. Catherine is immediately introduced as the type of girl who would spend hours working on perfecting a single tart rather than fantasizing ways in which she could favor the King. Though, opening a bakery is easier dreamt than done. Meyer takes us through the frustrating setbacks of feminism in Victorian social norms and with a promise of a crown, Cath’s parents aren’t too pleased with Cath’s wishes.

"Meyer’s writing makes the story her own....She blurs the lines between logic and dreams, reminding readers to go after dreams...."

Following Cath, we are introduced to a gossip-loving cat, a not-yet-mad hatter and many other quirky characters. One of which includes Jest, and how does one meet the court joker and not fall in love? It can’t be said that Jest was the regular trickster archetype that we have been exposed to, and though those characteristics can’t be ruled out, they certainly shouldn’t be limited to just Jest. Meyer provides us with an experience of what it is like to live in Wonderland, where we can have tea parties with Turtles and Lions, and a White Rabbit is seemingly always around the corner, just waiting to announce our entry. All in all, it gave quite the "Narnia" feeling if you ask me.

Meyer provides us with answers we never knew we starved for. We see Mad-Hatter before he was mad.  We see where the White Rabbit got his pocket watch from. Or why the Queen only insist on having red roses in her garden. Meyer presents the right amount of details to remind us where we are, while balancing a completely new storyline at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are a lover of Lewis Carroll or not, Meyer’s writing makes the story her own, and the secret ingredient to enjoyment is imagination. She blurs the lines between logic and dreams, reminding readers to not go after dreams because they are logical, but to go after them because they are dreams. 

The setting of Wonderland provides unpredictable circumstances that never leave the reader bored. Meyer’s writing makes your being there so natural. Not once was I overwhelmed by the bizzarity of events. There’s an ostrich in the court? Yes there is. The seven of spades fell on the floor and is having difficulty getting up? Someone help him, don’t just stand there. When Meyer takes us to Wonderland, she not only takes us to Wonderland but makes it our home. Any person who isn’t afraid to dream will be captivated by the story.

It was a nervous read. Unfortunately, we all knew how the queen would have to end, and it was tiring to know that with every page turn we got closer to reading what makes Catherine choose her favorite phrase to be “off with their heads.” 

Reviewed by Sabina Z., Teen Board Member on November 23, 2016

by Marissa Meyer