I had planned on doing a summary of this book since I thought it would be another series like the Lunar Chronicles, but I don't really see anywhere to go from here after that ending so I'll be doing a review instead. If a 2nd novel does happen to come out I will definitely get the summary out there for everyone.
I knew that ending was coming, I really did, but I found myself hoping and rooting for Cath to defy the Wonderland story we all know and go her own way instead of becoming who she was meant to be. I started to put "spoiler" before that but then I realized that it's even in the dust jacket so it's pretty obvious that she's meant to become the evil Queen of Hearts.
There was definitely insta-love in this book and a lot of back and forth "you already know he likes you, stop acting like you don't" between Cath and Jest, and although it did make me grit my teeth at times I think the teen fans will enjoy their relationship. A plus to this is that there's also none of the emotionally abusive type of relationship that have become so prominent in novels these days, and instead Jest is a true gentleman to Cath with every encounter and never puts her down or criticizes her and only tries to woo her to get her affection.
The world building in the book was excellent. I loved the new ways Mrs. Meyer incorporated the whimsy of the original Wonderland into her book (*"key limes" are limes shaped like keys for example), and when any part of the countryside is described I could envision it perfectly in my mind which attests to her amazing ability in her writing. I particularly enjoyed the hatter and wish there had been a much more in-depth reveal of his persona.
I also liked the storyline of Peter's pumpkins and his wife, but I think too much was revealed too early on with the numerous interactions between Cath and the wife for this plot reveal to have come as any kind of surprise to the readers by the time the "ta-da" moment happens near the end.
All in all, I really enjoyed the book and Mrs. Meyer's writing doesn't disappoint (as usual), but in my mind Cath is definitely not as strong of a character as Cinder was which was really disappointing, as someone like Cinder with her very strong will would be more of a Queen of Hearts character in my mind than the mousy, timid Cath tends to be most of the time throughout the book.
I really don't see how someone with such a quiet disposition could make that complete 180 at the end. No matter how tragic a circumstance you find yourself in, you're not going to go from wanting to disappear into the floor into turning into a total badass in a matter of 5 seconds. That's just not very realistic, but I guess with it being Wonderland, realistic is the wrong term to use.....
Definitely pick this one up if you enjoyed the Lunar series since the amazing world-building and storytelling is there with this too, but I don't recommend reading it as a "grown-up" retelling of the child's story you loved as you'll be severely disappointed if that's what you're expecting since this is still very much geared toward a younger female audience with the romance narrative being the main focal point rather than the many incredible characters who didn't have nearly enough time in the spotlight in the book.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5