Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones

Title: Doll Bones 
Author: Holly Black
 Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publishing Date: May 7th 2013
Pages: 244
Genre:  MG Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audio


Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

I read the Curse Worker series and loved it and I have also read The Spiderwick Chronicles and very much enjoyed them. I decided to give Doll Bones a go. It sounds like a very creepy middle school book and the summary peaked my interest. It was a pretty good book. I was a bit disappointed with the creep factor… I was hoping for so much more in the chills department. I think I was probably asking a bit much for a middle school book and it probably has just the right amount of creepiness for the age group it is written for. I loved the writing style. Holly Black is an amazing writer. I liked the characters. I felt they were easy to connect to. I also liked the story. Again not quite what I expected but it was a fun story.

Three Children who are in middle school like to play with action figures. They love to make up their own stories and live them as they go with the dolls. They are each growing up and within in that revelation Poppy is very fearful they will grow apart, especially after Zach decides he doesn’t have time to play with the dolls anymore. Poppy gets really concerned and decides to break into a china cabinet and steal a very old china doll. Not soon after she starts to hear things and feels she is being spoken to by the doll. The three friends set on a mission to accomplish what the doll asks them too. Along the way the learn a bit about themselves, each other, and growing up.

The book was written with a mixture of supernatural, adventure,mystery and realistic fiction, so I guess it is a very adventurous, supernatural, coming of age mystery. I really thought this book would be more along the lines of a pretty creepy ghost story because any book that has a china doll haunting just has to be creepy. The book didn’t really hold creepy for me but it was still very entertaining. The book was short and quick and would be a great story read aloud to the older children. I really do enjoy Holly Black’s writing.

The story was more of a coming of age book for the middle school age. The time where every child wonders if it is time to put away the toys and hang out like a teenager. I really don’t think there is an answer or a time for this but I am sure every child goes through it. The story is also about friendship and loyalty , family issues, and of course an adventure. I did enjoy the friendship part of the story. It was a very realistic friendship with realistic issues. The three children grew up together and have played with dolls for a very long time. The imagination in this group of kids was just amazing. I loved the idea of sitting around and making up stories then acting them out. I mean isn’t this what live action role playing is except without dolls. Looking back on my childhood my friends and I were never this imaginative and now I feel like I really missed out on something great. I am sure these children were authors in the making. Their friendship was strong but was starting to struggle. Each of them were growing up at a different rate and going through some things individually. Zach’s father has returned after years of being gone. He walked out on his family and left them to fend for themselves a couple of years ago and now he decides he wants his family back. Zack is struggling with this and it is because of his father why he must stop playing with dolls. Alice is finding that boys are meant for more than just friends and seems to be experiencing her first crush and jealous feelings. Poppy is feeling alone, pushed out of the group. She just wants the three to them to stay close and have nothing change. All these problems are very real problems that kids this age struggle with and they were dealt with realistically…. Well except for the adventure part. The adventure the three set out on was fun. I loved listening to them figure out the clues and where to go next. They worked together very well and found ways around the issues at hand… like a closed library…. It was exciting to see where the adventure would take us next and how the story of the china doll would end.

The characters were very relatable. Zach was my favorite but I think only because the story is told from his point of view. I really felt for him and his struggle with his home life. His father could be a real Meany at times. I wanted to hug Zach and slap his father. There is a lot of growth with Zach and his father, separately and together. Their story was the story I felt the most. Poppy was a brat at times, but knowing how she felt in the end made her actions understandable. Alice was the quiet one and I connected with her the least. I did like her. She seemed to most put together for me. She had a real sense of responsibility and wanted to make the right choices, even though she always seemed to cave in.

There was a bunch of good in this book and it was put together and written seamlessly.

Good story but I do wish there would have been a bit more creep. If you are looking for a creepy story pick up another book, but if you are looking for a bit of an adventure and a great coming of age book…. this one is good.

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