March 20, 2013

Latest Read: City of a Thousand Dolls

Here are the basics ...
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Publication date: Feb 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Borrowed from library

Summary: Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die. Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths which jeopardizes not only her own future but her own life. (Adapted goodreads.com
My thoughts…
The good: The City of a Thousand Dolls made me kind of uncomfortable. A strange way to start my review, but it's the first thought that popped into my head. The author's descriptive words made it easy to picture the city in my mind. Beautiful and colorful but beneath the surface it's a place that trains unwanted girls to be sold for a profit. The emperor has imposed a two child per household law and since most families want sons, the daughters are abandoned or worse. The city is a refuge for these girls and they do get to learn skills like medicine, dance, combat and music. But at the same time, it's very much like a brothel because the girls are typically groomed for men. I couldn't help but think of them as being trapped there like prisoners. It was a setting that definitely unnerved me.

The author introduces a lot of interesting elements into the plot. The protagonist Nisha was likable and right off the bat, you knew there was something special about her even if she didn't know it (yet). For one thing, she can communicate with cats telepathically. Spotted cats roam the city and are considered good luck. For unknown reasons, they follow Nisha around as her friends and pseudo-protectors. No one in her life knows this and I actually really loved the dynamic between her and the cats. Especially with Jerritt, who I saw as her best friend. Together, they try to solve the mystery behind the deaths of the girls living in the city. Through Nisha's eyes we learn about the different training houses, the other girls, her deep-seated desire to belong. To love and life freely. Despite the book's mystery and fantasy aspects, at the heart of it was a girl struggling to know who she was and find a family to belong to.

(Some) reservations: We know Nisha grew up in the city for ten years and even though we meet some of her (human) friends, we only get a glimpse into those relationships. I didn't feel invested enough to understand why Nisha took certain risks for them, aside from her strong sense of morality. There's also a romance in the story which takes an unexpected twist. It's strange because I had this feeling it would happen and I was disappointed that we didn't get a chance to see more of it.

Do I recommend?: I have to admit, something about the book left me wanting more. I can't put my finger on it but it was missing something for me. A little more answers maybe. I do recommend it though and I just read the author is working on a companion novel so maybe more will be revealed then.

Happy reading!

6 comments:

  1. I read this a little while back and really enjoyed it! Although I do agree with the underlying brothel tone for sure...kinda creepy. LOVED the visualization of the city. I could totally picture it in my mind and I loved how it was all divided up by specialty. And I totally didn't know the author was writing more! Awesome!

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    1. Yup! It's supposed to be a companion novel I think, not necessarily sequel. So it may highlight other characters? I want more details!

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  2. I'm so glad I got to read your thoughts on this one! I haven't really seen many reviews of it, and I agree that the concept makes me a little uncomfortable. That being said, I did pick this up from the library the other! Hopefully I'll get to it soon!

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    1. I haven't seen that many reviews of it either! Hope you like it!

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  3. Honestly, I really wanted to read this one, mostly because it's a fantasy novel, and you KNOW how I feel about fantasy. The more I hear about it, the more it makes me nervous. I'm not exactly sure if I still want to read it anymore, honestly. The premise and story sound like something that I might have problems with, really.

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    1. If you have time for it, then why not. But there are other books that I think you should read first :) This isn't one of those OMG you have to read it now books (at least not in my opinion).

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