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I didn't know much about this book before reading it. I had seen the cover before and I like Holly Black's writing so I picked up the audiobook at the library. I am often too lazy to read the back of books (plus I feel like it spoils some of the surprise) so all I knew about this book was what I saw on the cover.
This is a coming-of-age story with the major twist of a creepy doll that may or may not be possessed. The three main characters are slowly growing up, developing new interests, and changing. There was an interesting dynamic within the friend group, which was interesting. It felt very realistic. The group fights a lot, which gets a little dull to read (probably because I'm an adult and their problems don't seem like that big of a deal to me), but the other element of the story was really interesting.
I really liked Black's fantasy writing such as all of the game play. Very creative and realistic. It really reads like three pre-teens playing. And of course there is the whole doll thing. Great descriptions. I like that it was kind of vague whether or not the story was true or not. There were clues and coincidences, but there is definitely a struggle to figure out if it is all real or not throughout the book. Loved the idea of the quest.
As with many coming-of-age stories, there were some not-so-good things as well. Lying, bullying, peer pressure, leaving without telling guardians where you're going. Many of the friendship-based issues had some sort of apology/solution, but there was still quite a bit that felt like it was unresolved, especially the whole lying-to-guardians-and-traveling-to-a-different-state-without-telling-them thing. Yes, in the realm of fantasy that flies, but not so much in the real world.
Overall, a really interesting read. I especially liked the doll's potential backstory. Very creepy and unsettling. Worth the read.