Welcome to She Said/She Said, where GGC Members from across Canada are our book reviewers who share their opinions about this month’s book choice: City of 1,000 Dolls by Miriam Forster (published by Harper Collins Canada).
She Said: Alexis Maartman-Jones
Victoria, British Columbia
I won’t ever look at cats the same, but I’ll keep judging books by their covers. My justification for the latter is that so far, my first impression of novel cover art has been an accurate barometer for reading enjoyment. And I love the cover of City of a Thousand Dolls: strong and fresh – and Miriam Forster serves up both for the reader.
Jumping into the book blind (meaning I did not read the book summary), I stuttered a bit with the number of characters – Forster’s dramatis personae are many, and the city and its surrounding environment she describes are a goldmine for the imaginative reader. All the characters and the houses within the city deserve thoughtful consideration to construct a full image in your mind’s eye, an effort that rewards the reader with an all-access pass into this unique and engrossing world.
Ironically, the freshness that I was looking for in a book threw me for a loop. I’ve been so conditioned to visualizing a Caucasian cast in a North American culture. I admit, Forster’s story took some turns that felt awkward but, in the end, I realized that it was awkward only because it was a divergence from the typical book written for young adults. It was a welcome change.
Forster gives the reader enough insight to make guesses as to “who done it”, a trait in authors that I really appreciate. Forster keeps you guessing; she keeps you on your toes; she rocks.
But I bet you’re intrigued about my cat comment, am I right? You’ll just have to pick up the book and dive in. You won’t be disappointed.
She Said: Cassandra Calverley-Johnson
Set in a foreign word rich with powerful monarchs, masters of beauty and music, and murder, City of a Thousand Dolls, by Miriam Forster is captivating from start to finish. No matter your genre preference there is something here for everyone. From the coming age tale of a girl trying to find out who she is; to the interlaced back story of the world she lives in: its’ rules, customs and beliefs. This novel is truly a worthy read.
We see the world through the eyes of Nisha Arvi, a girl quickly nearing her 16th birthday. Nisha is the errand girl for the Matron of the City of a Thousand Dolls, abandoned at the city gates when she was 6 and deemed too old to start any formal training in the city, so the Matron took her in. Nisha has many friends in the city, most of which are the city cats, because she has a telepathic connection with the cats, (something she keeps secret as no one else seems to have this ability).
This story is action packed from page one. Nisha is constantly in the middle of things, whether it is seeking out her future or discovering her own mysterious past. If that wasn’t enough, girls in the city are being murdered, and when Nisha tries to find out who is the killer she finds herself in even more danger.
This book is packed full of strong powerful women, whether they be a master of medicine or dance, the girls are all seen to be very strong. One part for me that wasn’t so great was that at the girls 16th birthday they essentially get sold to the highest bidder, sometimes to further their career. Sadly, not all the girls were destined for wonderful purchases. Throughout the course of the book though there remains a stirring sense that the principles of the school may not be as sound as first thought, and Nisha in the end sets aside her desires to better the world around her. Overall I found this book to be a positive role model for young girls, and have recommended it to my unit.
She Said: Katie Etzl
A City of a Thousand Dolls is a fantastic book for teens. Nisha, the main character, was abandoned at the city as a small child where children are apprenticed in different fields, such as musicians, healers, and courtesans. When one of the girls dies there is a lot of mystery surrounding the situation as to how it happened, and who did it. The description of life in a faraway land is very interesting and very well done. The facts are real as to how people live and think in other countries and are very well portrayed. Sometimes you even find yourself being pulled towards the ways other people think – that is so very different from your own. I would highly recommend that everyone read this book and I would read other books by this author.
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