Doll Bones

Doll Bones - Holly Black

'Doll Bones' starts as a last-Goonie-weekend kind of story, where Zach and Alice hear out their friend Poppy, and follow her on a quest to dispose of cursed doll at the request of a dead girl. Zach has been facing a lot of pressure from his Dad about playing imagination games with two girls, and using dolls to do it, as well as his own fear of his friends on the basketball team discovering what he does after practice. Zach's motivation is the only one to get significant attention and nothing else elevates the plot that hinges on Zach and Alice going along with Poppy's dream about being cursed by a doll. In the penultimate act 'Doll Bones' does a complete turnaround.

There is a creepy element to the book, dolls are not for children to play with anymore, apparently, and the days when girls could bribe other girls to be friends with them for the chance of doll talk are even further in the past. Other than the blatant creepy description of the doll, the gripping shame of being seen with a doll, and the revelation that "adventuring turned out to be boring", I was surprised this book had been given so much positive critical attention. Then, near the end of the story, we discover the book is less about a dead girl and more about witnessing childhood die.

Well, damn. Holly Black you got me, and undoubtedly you got a whole lot of already cripplingly self-aware post-millennials, too. The postscript includes some nice historical information about Lotus Ware, the American porcelain phenomenon, and the Ohio ceramics industry in general, something I knew nothing about.