This is my first review this year. So, let's make it an angry one, shall we?
The Dolls is, without a doubt, one of the biggest wastes (of time, paper,This is my first review this year. So, let's make it an angry one, shall we?
The Dolls is, without a doubt, one of the biggest wastes (of time, paper, money, etc.) I've read in my entire life. I'm trying to remember a more spectacularly insipid, preposterously vapid, profoundly shallow and endlessly frivolous novel and I simply can't. By the end of this self-imposed torture, I simply could not understand the why: why I have chosen to read this book or why had possessed me to pick it up and buy in the first place, and I, especially, could not understand why this book was even published in the first place.
Harsh, I know, but seriously, this is the type of idiotically pointless, flat and hollow and trivial crap that flooded shelves after Twilight. You know which type I'm talking about: super special, perfect, clueless girl is abruptly moved somewhere else where she meets a perfect stranger who seems to hate her for no reason, because it turns out she's strangely connected to some bizarre thing that only happens in this particular new, mysterious town, and there's some stuff going on in the background (usually an endless parade of murdered girls) and there's some paranormal crap that's supposed to be guiding the plot and some generic antagonist that threatens everyone's existence, but who cares because Makeover! Love triangle! Mean girls! Prom! Longing gazes! Stolen kisses! Taciturn, borderline bipolar love interest who is forbidden to love the main character for some half-assed reason that usually has to do with some selfish notion of honor or self-restraint!
The Dolls ticked every single item in that checklist. The paranormal aspect was nothing but a flimsy excuse to disguise, not even subtly, what is simply a "forbidden romance" cliche between one-dimensional perfect people who are remarkable in no way whatsoever and yet so, so special. Every single character in this novel was painfully forgettable, the plot dragged on and on, meandering with no clear direction in sight, the twist was entirely too predictable and, I kid you not, 75% of the entire novel was spent describing "fashionable" clothes. And it is so. freaking. boring. Repetitive to the point where I actually had to look at the page numbers several times because I actually thought I was going back and reading the same part over and over instead of moving forward.
Forgive me for thinking that YA had grown out of this stagnant, painful phase of vanity, shallowness and total meaninglessness. It's not that every book I've read since has been fantastic, but at least the criticism I leveled against them didn't go straight into the basics of simply being so utterly pointless and trivial and flimsy. This is outright generic, uninventive, and insufferably mediocre. The Gothic setting and atmosphere and theme are wasted, because nothing else matters in this story besides the contrived forbidden romance.
Another thing that bothered me immensely about this novel is the racial politics at play here. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this book is profound enough to deliberately present any sort of racial message, but, being the impressively dumb and senseless thing it is, this book actually does accidentally represent how racial politics still work in YA.
In this book, we have a New Orleans setting, a voodoo theme and a link to slavery, and not only is the main character extremely white, but she's also the leader "Queen" of a circle that deals in a branch of voodoo. And out of the three members of this circle of voodoo practicing "Queens," 2 of them are white, both described as having strictly white European characteristics. Only 1 (ONE!) of them is black. Think about that for a second and tell me it is not preposterous to even imagine a voodoo legacy story set in New Orleans where only 1 out of 3 characters is black, and where this single black character is not even the most powerful or central one. Look at this book and then dare to tell me this book doesn't perpetuate the terrible tradition of stealing culture from minorities and giving them to uninspiring white characters who are still better than every other colored character in the novel itself.
And there's the romance. It is particularly upsetting for me that interracial romances in YA are exceedingly rare, and it's even worse to think that most of them do not happen outside of "issue" novels where the races of those involved is crucial to the point of the novel itself. So, trust me when I say that interracial romances usually earn the novel I'm reading a lot of brownie points in my book. I know it was the intention of the author to showcase an interracial romance in this novel, but I personally didn't see it like that because of how whitewashed the love interest was. Do not give me a "black" guy with skin so light he passes as white with sky blue eyes, a guy people actually refer to in the novel as the "light-skinned black guy," and then pat yourself in the back for your progressiveness and openness. And this is not the first time I've encountered this type of love interest. Quite frankly, most of the times I've encountered a colored love interest, it was under the same description, because apparently, you cannot conceive the idea of your precious lily-white main character kicking it with anyone of color who is not an exception to the rule, who is special precisely because of how little he resembles his racial group and how much it resembles your own.
This book is so bad all by itself that its mediocrity almost overshadows the problematic elements it presents. Ultimately, there's little to no redeeming elements that make this novel worthwhile, much less that would make me even consider picking up whatever sequels this storyline can vomit into existence. It's one thing to offer a generic, mediocre story, but it's another entirely to present a product so unnecessary, so pointless and unremarkable, that is nothing short of a waste in basically every aspect possible. ...more