Author: Holly Black
Rating: 2 Stars
Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.
But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .
Zach, Poppy, and Alice are three kids who have been friends their entire childhood. They have played a game of piracy and adventure for years. Then Zach's dad gets angry, tells Zach that, at 12 years old, Zach is "too old to be playing these games," that it's time for Zach to grow up, and then he throws away Zach's action figures. Keep in mind that Zach is 12 YEARS OLD!
Ok, so this leads Zach to shutting himself off from his friends - oh no, wait, just Poppy. He still thinks Alice is the shit and wants to hang with her. But Poppy and her friendship and the insistence on playing the game are just too much for him.
So, after a few days, Poppy says that the Queen, this bone china doll in her home, has been sending her dreams that the person she was created from needs to be buried and given a proper funeral so she can stop haunting people. This leads to Alice, Poppy, and Zach leaving their home at like 2 in the morning to go running off on a bus to some town hours away to bury a doll. And they are 12 YEARS OLD!
Anyway, rambling about the fact that they are 12 aside, let's talk about what I thought.
I wish that Poppy would have been the main protagonist. She drove the story, but Zach was the narrator. Everything they did in the story revolved around Poppy, though, and she was the one who made everything they did happen. She should have been the narrator.
The romance in this story was small, but it was there, and it was completely unnecessary. About 3/4 of the way through the book, Zach suddenly decides out of nowhere that he wants to go on a date with Alice, who's wanted to date him for a while, and again I feel I must point out THEY ARE 12. This little snippet did nothing for the story and plot and the nothing would have been different in this book had the romance not been there.
I found it hard to believe that these kids just took off and nobody was looking for them while they were running around god knows where trying to bury a doll in some cemetery in East Liverpool. Don't you think there parents would have had people searching for them?!
The ending, to me, was just a bit too convenient and wrapped up a bit too nicely. Poppy and Zach spent a lot of the books fighting - I still don't really know why, but from what I gather it was just because Zach was annoyed that she wanted to play the game, and even though he did too he pretended he didn't because his dad threw away his toys.... So, like he was sort of just annoyed with his dad and taking it out on Poppy. Anyway - the ending! THE ENDING! It was just off to me. They get to this graveyard after sneaking out of the library (where a librarian conveniently showed up on her day off and forced the kids to call their parents.) So, anyway, they are out of the library, they find THE GRAVEYARD they've been looking for. And in a span of just a few pages, they bury the doll, their parents show up and DON'T SAY A DAMN THING TO THEM, and everything between Poppy and Zach is wrapped up nicely by the simple act of burying a doll. In fact, one of the things that happens on the last page is one of them asking the other "Wanna play?" And the other agreeing. Like no talk about all their tension, all their anger towards each other, nothing. I mean, it's been a long time since I was 12, but I just think there would have been more talk about them being mad - I don't know that they would have gotten over it that quickly.
Anyway, this book ended up being a bit more of a dud for me than I thought it would be. If you've read it, let me know what you thought in the comments!