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leaning on the side of wonder

Doll Bones

Doll Bones - Holly Black

Engaging & slightly creepy, with lots of adventure, a bit of supernatural, but most of all a lot of lessons on the intermediate stage of life between childhood & adolescence. Formal review to come. 

UTA: Reading Doll Bones through the lens of its recent Newbery Honor status made for an interesting experience. I already had the book sitting on my shelf when the 2014 awards were announced, and dove in eagerly when I realized it had been given such a high honor. Because of said accolades, I found myself going in with very very high expectations regarding all aspects of the book. Doll Bones - a middle-grade story about three friends on a classic quest with a super creepy doll - was creepily satisfying. But I expected a great deal more quality in terms of the prose and pacing. However, viewed as a whole, the story is a surprisingly astute coming-of-age tale (in this case the muddled time between childhood & adolescence). What it lacks in pacing & narrative elements, it makes up for by tackling some heavy themes of familial loss, the evolution of friendships, and the disillusionments of age and what it means to believe. Despite its emphasis on adventure - Doll Bones is not a fluffy middle-grade fantasy novel. It’s a surprisingly deep, and oddly compelling book, that is sometimes lovely, sometimes heartbreaking, and often deliciously creepy.

“He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be lies.” 

“If they were real, then maybe the world was big enough to have magic in it. And if there was magic — even bad magic, and Zach knew it was more likely that there was bad magic than any good kind — then maybe not everyone had to have a story like his father's, a story like the kind all the adults he knew told, one about giving up and growing bitter. Anything was better than no magic at all.”

“It's not fair. We had a story, and our story was important. And I hate that both of you can just walk away and take part of my story with you and not even care. I hate that you can do what you're supposed to do and I can't. I hate that you're going to leave me behind. I hate that everyone calls it growing up, but it seems like dying. It feels like each of you is being possessed and I'm next.”

“He had read lots of stories where heroes succeeded in spite of long odds, where they accomplished a task that everyone else had failed at. He wondered for the first time about all the people who'd gone before those heroes, about whether they'd been at each other's throats, before everything had gone wrong. He wondered if there was a point where they realized they weren't going to make it, weren't going to beat those long odds--that in the legend that would follow, they were going to be the nameless people that failed.” 

“I thought you needed to be tougher. But I've been thinking that protecting somebody by hurting them before someone else gets the chance isn't the kind of protecting that anybody wants.”