When I first saw the cover of Dollhouse on Netgalley I was instantly attracted to it - it was so different to many YA covers out there. I then realised that the book was by an Australian author and my mind was made up I wanted to read this book! I started reading this book with no expectations, I knew nothing about the story though I had gathered it was going to have a gothic horror vibe to it. I wasn't disappointed, while the book had some issues it definitely carried off the mysterious spooky vibe brilliantly.
The story centres around main character Cassie who along some of her classmates get caught up in the mystery of the Australian bush where many girls have disappeared over time. Cassie's best friend Aisha goes missing right under their noses while hiking and taking photo's for a school project. Aisha's boyfriend (and Cassie's crush), Ethan gets blamed for her disappearance, so Cassie, Ethan along with Lacey decide to investigate a creepy mansion they discovered near where she disappeared. Things start to go downhill for them when they discover a hidden entrance filled with carousels and end up caught in a mysterious web of disturbing secrets when they find what lies beneath the mansion.
It's really hard to write this review without giving away too much of the story. As I mentioned before the author pulls off the gothic horror theme beautifully, unfortunately though the actual plot was at times overly complicated and pacing a bit all over the place. This coupled with some poor character development is why I've chosen to only give the book 2.5 star rating.
The pacing of the book was what I had the biggest issue with. It started out well and I couldn't put it down, then there was a large part in the middle of the book that just really dragged and I found a lot of the story to be a bit repetitive and mundane. I also felt that there were some very large climatic things that were just brushed over towards the end in a rush while other parts that weren't particularly interesting or important seemed to get a lot more attention.
The characters weren't particularly likeable and also quite two dimensional - they all annoyed me at times though Cassie particularly did things often that just irritated me beyond belief. There is no real romance in this book, while Cassie and Ethan clearly like each other she falls for him before the story starts and the chemistry isn't particularly great though it probably doesn't help that Ethan is dating someone else for the majority of the book.
A lot of very interesting lore is dished out towards the end of the story and I really enjoyed this and want to find out more, the author also ended the book on a major cliffhanger so I think I will be picking up the remainder of the series just to get answers for all the questions marks I now have. I have high hopes that this book was setting the stage for some great things. (less)
I was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply lov...moreI was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply love this idea of entering into Virtual Reality that is so advanced you feel like you are quite literally in another world. Other than it’s unique and exciting concept, Elusion just didn’t really work for me.
The story centres around our protagonist Reagan who is very much in mourning after the death of her father – the creator of Elusion. Her best friend Patrick is the lead designer after her father dies on the Elusion project and the book starts with the media announcement that Elusion is being rolled out as a product across the country after a successful 3 state trial launch. From then on Regan starts trying to solve the mystery of Elusion which has some loud opponents questioning it’s very safety, and the mystery of her father’s death. With the help of a new guy at school Josh, Regan is determined to get behind the firewall and get the answers she’s desperate for.
I’m not really sure where to begin with my problems with this book so I’m just going to vent it all out. Firstly Regan, gah!!! She really annoyed me! At the beginning of this book you got a lot of inner dialogue about how close she is with her best friend Patrick. Patrick basically grew up with her and was like a son to her dad who mentored him and brought him into the Elusion project. For basically no reason at all, she goes from being devoted and loyal to him to getting more and more suspicious, yet in the same breath decides she should trust a total stranger with a questionable past with all of her secrets. This aspect of the book probably got to me the most, poor Patrick was so vilified and yet he never really did anything to deserve it in my humble opinion and to make matters worse he even stayed loyal to Regan through all of it.
Regan also starts distrusting her mother who is seriously not coping with the death of her father, yet her dad who clearly had a lot of secrets and was keeping things from her she never once seemed to question. I was completely dumfounded by the relationships in this book it just seemed totally wrong.
Josh was a very useless two dimensional character and I couldn’t really see the point in his being in the story at all other than to provide a love triangle and it wasn’t even a good love triangle :( The whole romance aspect of this book just didn’t click with me either. It was quite clichéd and I didn’t feel any chemistry between Regan and Josh or Regan and Patrick for that matter.
The world was interesting and bleak though there was lots of references to oxygen masks, something called florapetro and acid rain though no background was given to how the world got that way or what this florapetro actually is? I’m assuming that pollution got so bad that this is it for the world of the future hence the need for Elusion which provides everyone with Escapes back to how the world once was. They also had super long work days 12 hours on, 12 hours off and school kids are doing that too which I totally don’t understand either considering since many young kids can barely handle the 9-3 school day let alone double that!
The last part of the novel that I just couldn’t suspend belief over was that Regan’s dad built a firewall into the Elusion system. Now a firewall is a fairly common thing in internet security terms, what got to me is that this firewall is actually a real, physical wall in the Elusion escapes and apparently if you can find the wall you can get past it with absolutely no technical skills whatsoever. Now I never studied IT but I did work for Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies for over a decade and I quite simply found this concept completely ridiculous. If I’m honest I found the idea childish and it was a real disappointment for a number of reasons which I wont mention here as I don’t want to provide any spoilers.
I’m giving this book 2.5 stars as I loved the concept and it was a fast read. I also really enjoyed reading about the Virtual Reality and the Elusion escapes if only the rest of the story was actually plausible. It also ended on a cliff-hanger and I probably will pick up the next book simply because I want to know what happens next so I guess even with all the problems I did get suckered in! (less)