Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review - City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062121301
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine for Review
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is Forster’s debut novel and it was an excellent one. The blurb on the back compares this book to Graceling and The Girl of Fire and Thorns; that is a pretty apt comparison. I got a copy of this book through Amazon Vine to review; so thanks to Vine and HarperTeen for making this book available. I really enjoyed the characters and interesting world in this novel.

Nisha was left the City of a Thousand Dolls at the age of six. An age considered too old to start training in the City of a Thousand Dolls. Nisha lives in a world where parents are only allowed to have two children, as a result many parents abandon their female daughters. The City of a Thousand Dolls was created to take in these abandoned girls and teach them a skill that will make them Redeemable and allow for their placement into new lives.

Nisha was considered too old to train and has been a messenger for the Matron since she arrived, but now girls are dying and if Nisha cannot figure out why her own freedom will be at stake.

This was very much a fantasy mystery. Don’t come into this book expecting to read something that is action packed. This is a deliberately paced mystery as much as anything. There is some romance thrown in here as well, although it is definitely not what drives the story.

Nisha is an interesting character. She is definitely in a tight spot, she doesn’t have any family around or anyone who loves her. She does however have some important friends, the foremost of which are the talking cats that inhabit the City of a Thousand Dolls. Nisha isn’t an incredibly rebellious or outgoing heroine. She spends most of her time trying not to be noticed and makes a number of mistakes throughout the story. She does however stand up for what she thinks is right when the time comes.

I enjoyed the cats, which spoke to Nisha telepathically. Initially they are just very fun to have in the story, as things continue they end up being part of something much bigger. There isn’t a lot of magic in this book, it is mostly present in the various people and races throughout.

The world is very well built. There is definitely an Asian influence to this world. The limit on the number of children per family echoes that. A somewhat apocalyptic event in the past is hinted at but never fully explained.

The plot is well done. Nisha ends up the sole investigator of a series of murders, her freedom ends up being the price if she can’t solve these mysterious murders. There are a number of twists and turns to the story that I found surprising, yet they never came off as contrived.

The book takes a look at a number of interesting themes including what happens when you impose a child limit on families and women’s rights.

The book was very well written and engaging. I found it hard to put down and it was very easy to read.

Overall an excellent young adult fantasy mystery novel. Nisha makes a believable heroine who is easy to engage with; she isn’t all that assertive but she is strong in her own way. The mystery and world-building were both well done, and I also enjoyed the telepathically speaking cats. I would recommend to those who enjoy fantasy mysteries.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- YA/MG Fantasy Reading Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

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