by Holly Black
2013 • 256 pages • Margaret K. McElderry Books
After adoring her The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Ana’s amazing review of Holly Black’s Doll Bones made the next logical step for exploring Black’s back catalog obvious. I always had books at the bookstore that I would shelve and whisper “soon” to (oh, like you don’t talk to yourself in public), and Doll Bones was one.
I am kind of tempted to point you to Ana’s review and hand you off, because she, as ever, gets to the marrow of the matter. Doll Bones is the story of three friends who have played, essentially, a homemade version of Dungeons and Dragons since they were little—Alice, Zach, and their game master, Poppy. Now in middle school, Zach is starting to feel self-conscious about his best friends being girls and playing pretend so much. When his dad throws out his figurines, he, although enraged, takes it as the easy way out of the game. But Poppy is not to be deterred, and she demands that all three go on a quest to bury the creepy, antique doll that represents the Queen in their game world because it’s supposedly haunting her. As Ana beautifully writes, it’s about growing up into a strict gender binary being enforced by the various adults around them and how all three negotiate that. While Zach, a basketball player, and Alice, a theater kid, have access to prefabricated narratives that supposedly mesh with their interests, Poppy, who describes herself as the actually weird one, doesn’t.
So instead of retreading the ground that Ana covered first (and better), I wanted to focus on Poppy. Continue reading
2013 has been a pretty big year, for both me and the blog. Not only I have I graduated college, completed a publishing program, gotten my first job, and moved across the country, but I’ve also tinkered with my writing style, format, and various features here at the Literary Omnivore to build a leaner, meaner bookish machine. So, for the first time in the Literary Omnivore’s history as my live reading journal, I present to you this year in review on the last Saturday of the year.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Before picking up The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I only had two impressions of Holly Black. The first was that “When You’re a Jedi, You’re a Jedi All the Way,” the short story she collaborated on in Geektastic, was a weak execution of a good premise. The second is that she’s friends with Cassandra Clare. (According to disgruntled whispers in the fan community, Black introduced Clare to her literary agent. Remember, dear readers, networking is important! And it doesn’t have to be all cold and impersonal, either!) Sure, her Tithe is on my reading list, but it was added so long ago that I don’t remember how. (I keep much better notes now.) Neither impression scared me away from her, but neither did I go out of my way to pick up Tithe.
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd is one of those books I think everyone has read but me, albeit not in the massive numbers as, say, the Millenium trilogy. One of my cousins picked it up from my favorite independent bookstore the last time he visited my stomping grounds, a woman in my writing group read it ages ago, and other book bloggers have picked through it. The arresting cover—I’ve always loved pixel art—is eye-catching and the subject matter definitely appeals to someone who thoroughly identifies as a geek.
Part of the joy of being a geek in the twenty-first century is the community the Internet facilitates; I often look at the lady Trekkies who essentially pioneered fandom with no small amount of awe–what they had to do with newsletters and ‘zines, we do with forums and fanfiction. Fandom is a wonderful thing. Today, we’re going to look at two different books that celebrate it–a short story collection and a novel.