Zach, Alice, and Poppy have been friends as far back as they can remember, to the point where practically every one of their most notable experiences are interconnected with one another. Now though they’re caught between the joys of childhood and the expectations of adolescence with their formerly perfect friendship on the rocks and the ever evolving world of make believe they created years ago threatening to deteriorate with it. In a last ditch effort to escape the mounting pressures imposed on them Poppy lures her friends into a cross state border quest to put the ashes of a murdered girl to rest. Any journey of such epic proportions is bound to have a few stumbling blocks though, and as time goes on the pals begin to wonder on the very basis of their friendship. Middle grade lovers rejoice, Doll Bones is full of swashbuckling adventure, daring heroism, and offers up a very true to life representation of pre-teen growing pains. All of course, wrapped up in a deliciously creepy package.Not to be blunt, but my first few dips into Holly Black’s writing have left me disenchanted and unimpressed with the fruits of my labor, willing me to turn back the clock and go back to a time of blissful misconception where I thought Black could be the author for me. Alas, I just don’t think it’s meant to be as after one too many tepid reactions to her books (all of which are practically fabled as masterpieces among the fantasy circles) I’ve finally soured to the idea of reading any more of her work, breathtaking cover, rave reviews, enveloping plot lines or otherwise. They’re a lot like lackluster dates in a way, not bad per se but frequently lagging in any real direction and genuine interest to the point where there is really no reason for me to pick up the phone and set up another meet up. Case closed, end of discussion. While that statement is indeed very harsh know that Doll Bones is not a bad book in any sense, it’s just very confused about the kind of book it wants to be and as a result I was easily disjointed by the narrative. Themes and messages are often muddled through because the many concurrent story lines running at the same time to the point where I found myself unattached to all of her ideas and with none leaving the desired impact on me. At certain points I believe Black wanted it to be a coming of age tale mixed with a dose of the supernatural, but then in a matter of pages she would flip that right on its head and suddenly the story of this horrifying doll was at the forefront of the book’s subject matter. When even an author seems unsure of their ultimate goals and target audience, it will surely never bode well for the effectiveness of the content, thus is the case with the matter of who exactly would really adore this book. Surely the subject matter, a murdered girl sealed for eternity by her father in the body of a bone china porcelain doll, would be far too unnerving for a child under the age of ten. On the flip side even if the protagonists are twelve they often present much younger with their preoccupation in dolls, role playing, and action figures, along with the snap of a finger quick epiphanies and character 180’s that occur many times over the 200 page course of the book.
Of course, it’s been a long time since I’ve been near the target for this book and it’s very likely that I read the story from a clouded standpoint that dulled my ability to see Doll Bones for what it really is. And what is that? Well, a story for kids at a crossroads in their life. For a time when they feel drawn to the familiar light of childhood but our no less allured by the mysteries of our adult world. Maybe Zach, Alice, and Poppy are the characters middle grade readers want, no need, to read so as to rest assured that everything will work out exactly the way it’s meant to. So what, the narrative is at times stilted but it always had the best of ambitions; aiming to delight readers with a taste of the supernatural, but likewise allow them to learn a lesson everyone faces at some point. What do I really know? Let the ten year olds of the world be the final testament to Doll Bones. Is it really a book worth reading? If you have a middle grader in your life let me know their thoughts.
you have a middle grader in your life let me know what their thoughts were on this creeptastic Halloween read.