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BOOK REVIEWS, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, LOVELACE NOMINEE 2016-17, Middle Grade Readers, NEWBERY HONOR BOOK

DOLL BONES by Holly Black….2016-17 LOVELACE nominee Division II

doll bonesDoll Bones was not the story I expected it to be, based on my impressions of the cover art, the author’s reputation, the title and the book description blurb.  Unfortunately, once I started reading, it seemed to me that the author didn’t know what kind of story she wanted to tell.  Is this a story about growing up and having friendships and circumstances change with age and experience?  Is this a fantasy about a doll with mysterious, otherworldly influence?  Is this the mystery of a long-ago murder? Is it the adventurous escapade of three children on a quest to right a wrong?

The unfortunate answer to all of the above questions is both yes AND no.  The three main characters, Poppy, Alice and Zach,  never seem to develop enough to convey to the reader which story they ar trying to tell.  Poppy and Alice are introduced to the reader first, but when we leave their characters for the next chapter we never really come back to either of them.  Zach’s character receives the most backstory, but his character’s plot line only makes sense occasionally within the larger story arc.  There are so many holes in the plotting and the action that feel as though they should be filled with character development that it becomes confusing.

I was alternately frustrated and bored with Doll Bones and will probably not recommend it to other readers of any age.  I would be interested, however, in hearing from young readers who have enjoyed Doll Bones, and why.


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