Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Porcelain Rage

For me, listening to Nick Podehl's reading of Doll Bones was like visiting an extremely creepy graveyard--while driving along in the safety of my car.
Doll Bones by Holly Black has already won a Newbery Honor Award, but I can’t resist adding a short review to the pile.

First off: This is a book I listened to while driving, and it’s as good an audio book since Jason Isaac’s reading of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Doll Bones reminded me of another chilling audio book, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, read by Jason Isaac.
Nick Podehl does a fantastic job of reading Doll Bones, bringing the three main characters (Zach, Polly, and Alice) to life. I found myself wanting to drive more than usual, which is just plain crazy when you live in the Boston area.

At the heart of Black’s novel is a portrait of rage so convincing it makes your heart race. Early in the book, Zach’s dad throws out some toys he feels are “to young” for his son.

But to Zach those toys are a solid connection to the ephemeral world of imagination. Zach savors the stories he and Alice and Poppy spin, using old action figures, modified Barbies, and a spooky antique porcelain doll locked in a cabinet.

Zach’s rage over losing his action figures exposes unsettling currents of change—of friends growing older and growing apart, of old games giving way to new pursuits, with some players left behind.

There are real chills in Doll Bones, which explains why libraries in my area are divided in where to shelve it: juvenile, young adult, or both.

Spot illustrations by Eliza Wheeler make the book seem younger and feel a bit like false advertising. They’re also completely unneeded. The cinematic quality of the writing brings forth images you won’t soon forget.

Whether in print or on audio, this is a story you’ll want to experience for yourself, before deciding whom to share it with.


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