Monday, November 28, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: HEARTLESS,by Marissa Meyer

Everybody knows Marissa Meyer for her Lunar Chronicles. I first heard about them -- at least where the title and the concept of the stories stuck in my head -- at the Realm Makers conference when Kathy Tyers (Firebird series) gave the opening lines of CINDER as an example of a great hook, to pull readers into the story and the story world.

CINDER, SCARLET, CRESS and the other books in the Lunar Chronicles retell classic faerie tales in an SF setting. For instance, CINDER is the story of Cinderella, but the heroine is a cyborg and the glass slipper is her mechanical foot ... go read it for yourself. I'm still waiting to read the first 3 books in the Lunar Chronicles. Yeah, I keep saying I'm not going to buy more new books until I've made a massive dent -- more like a crater -- in my to-be-read pile/bookshelves.

So why HEARTLESS? The Cuyahoga County Public Library regularly brings in authors to speak about their books and sign autographs -- and oh, yeah, get copies of their brand new books. So less than a week after this book was released, I was sitting in a jam-packed auditorium with a copy in my hands, listening to Meyers talk about the Lunar Chronicles, about HEARTLESS, about her writing process, and writing in general. Pretty cool.

HEARTLESS is a pre-history of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, where the Queen of Hearts is still a young girl, the daughter of nobility, whose dream is to have her own bakery, rather than become queen of the land of Hearts. You really can't blame her, after you've met the king. He is no prize. Cath is a great baker, and she is never so happy as when she's in the kitchen, covered in flour or dreaming up recipes. Unfortunately, her parents are determined she make a good match.

Hearts is a magical kingdom, populated by Humans as well as magical talking animals, just like in Lewis  Carroll's books, with playing cards and the Cheshire Cat, food that is somewhat dangerous to eat, and plants that invade Cath's bedroom as a result of her dreams. Which is convenient when she dreams up lemons and key limes, to go in her baking. Plus there's the Jabberwock. There is also warfare going on, in the neighboring kingdom of Chess, between the red and white queendoms. Cath gets tangled up with and thoroughly messed over by some spies who come through the Looking Glass from Chess to Hearts to obtain something to save the White Queen.

There were times I found it hard to keep reading because I liked Cath a lot, and if you've read the books and seen any of the movies, you know what the Queen of Hearts is like. So HOW did Cath get this way? Well, duh, look at the title. If you're looking for a happy ending and for true love to triumph ... *sigh* ... you should still read this intriguing, imaginative book that had me muttering a few times, "Wish I'd thought of that."

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