A Superficial & Slightly Shallow Gothic Tale | Review of ‘The Dolls’ (The Dolls, #1)

By Cynthia Ayala

‘The Dolls’ by Kiki Sullivan
Balzer + Bray

Eveny Cheval has gone from the big city, New York, to move back to her childhood home in Louisiana with her aunt Bea, a place she hasn’t seen since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago. But her home town has a dark side, one that is connected to her mother’s death and the popularity of the Dolls, the pretty powerful girls at her new school. Something is wrong in her hometown and it’s up to her to fix it and save lives.

The Dolls is the first novel in The Dolls series, a young adult southern gothic tale by Kiki Sullivan. Published on September 2, 2014 by Balzer + Bray the novel follows one young girl as she goes traverses life between magic and high school.

Where to begin. Okay, so it’ not as though this is a badly written story, it’s easy to read and east to follow, but the problem lies in the characterization. The Dolls – Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre and their clique – are all so vain and have a very small moral compass. There are moral guidelines that guide the characters, or at least Eveny, but the rest of them are incredibly superficial. Especially Peregrine. Sullivan has the perfect opportunity to create the bad girl that everyone loves to hate, or even just love. What fails her is the fact that this character is so completely shallow, so completely superficial and very two-dimensional. This is not a likable character who does everything at the risk of others. She’s not a villain, she’s just the stereotype of the popular girl who has money, is pretty and steps on everyone else. There is no angst, no shadow over her to make her at least somewhat interesting. Chloe on the other hand has a soft and gentle side to her that overshadows her superficial beauty. She’s really one of the few characters that has a developed personality, something that is more than two-dimensional. This goes for the main protagonist as well. Eveny is annoying. Granted she has this perfect girl moral compass but, much like Peregrine, she has a very two-dimensional personality. They are parallels, and while that is creative concept it was carried out poorly because at the end of the day, Eveny is a “Mary Sue” character.

Now, the story is interesting, especially when you have kids dealing with voodoo and the ramifications of what they have done while a group of people who believe that magic is evil hunt down these mostly innocent kids. There is a darkness to the novel that makes reading it tolerable, and coupled with the mystery and all the minor characters, the novel is somewhat interesting. Even that isn’t enough to really give this novel a good grade because the syntax isn’t very good. It’s very simplistic and cliché as far as the romance scenes go. There are innumerable amounts of moments were the characters eyes meet and the world slows down. That is bad writing; it is clichéd and could have been done in ways that are more creative. Imagination, that’s all this novel needed to raise the level of the paranormal and mystery within the novel.

At the end of the day, this is a mediocre novel at best. (★★☆☆☆ | D+)

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