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Friday, July 4, 2014

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Book Review: Doll Bones

Fresh off my first adventure into Middle Grade with Counting By 7s, I decided to keep up the trend and hop on over to Doll Bones by Holly Black. Although technically under the same umbrella genre of Middle Grade, Doll Bones is a completely different type of story than Counting By 7s

Doll Bones, is a coming of age adventure-horror that reminds you of how scary the idea of growing up can be.
Zachary, Poppy, and Alice are best friends. They have been so since a very early age, and what holds them together is their imaginations. They play pretend with their dolls and action figures creating unbelievably complex stories of adventure and loss and love. And one doll reigns over all, The Queen. An antique china doll that has been locked in Poppy's parents' cabinet sits above all others and rules their imaginary land. She is beautiful and creepy, as the doll's eyes are forever shut.
All is well in their imaginary land until Zach's father decides it's time he grew up and throws out all of his toys. Too heart broken and embarrassed to admit what he's lost to Poppy and Alice, Zach tells them that he never wants to play ever again. But late that night, Poppy and Alice appear at his window saying he cannot leave the game. The Queen has come alive and opened her eyes. Poppy says the ghost of a girl claiming her bones are inside the china doll visited her and told her they must find her grave and bury the doll where it truly belongs.
Intrigued and a little freaked out, the three decide this will be the climax of the game. They will follow the clues and bury the doll. But Zach and Alice begin to wonder if the Queen is really haunted or if it is all Poppy's desperate attempt to keep them together and away from the inevitable cross-roads of growing up.

It's a really interesting premise. And just like Zach, you aren't sure whether the doll is haunted or not. Strange and inexplicable thing happen that make you believe that something more sinister is going on, and yet you also wonder if Poppy is desperate enough to do such strange things in order to keep her friends together. But it's not all spooky. It's a fun and difficult adventure for the characters and the reader. There's a late night buss ride, a stolen boat, a night in a library, and so much more that keeps the story moving.

But what is really great about the book is how it makes you remember that stage in your life. Being on the precipice of young adulthood is an awakening in itself. You like the games and toys of your childhood, but for the first time you are concerned about what other people think about them. Is it cool? Is it childish? What am I supposed to be interested in now? You start developing crushes, your interests change, and you may find yourself leaving the old games and old friends behind forever. It's a scary time that the three characters must come to grips with. They may be dealing with a doll that may or may not be haunted, but they are really battling the haunting prospect of change.

I highly recommend this book for a wide range of ages. It's a Middle Grade book, but it's a whole lot of fun for everyone else. It's well written, a little scary, a lot of fun, and has so much heart, there's nothing not to love.
Title: Doll Bones

Author: Holly Black

Genre: Middle-grade, Contemporary adventure-horror - yeah we'll go with that

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Male and Female readers from age 10 and up

Final Rating: Four out of Five mugs of hot chocolate 
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