I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I laid eyes on it. That cover? So awesome. I was also promised the possibility of assassins. Assassins. “Assassins” is basically a automatic sign me up word. I went in expecting some really epic fantasy murder-mystery-eque kick-butt awesome fest with a heavy dose of assassins.
This was nothing like I expected. I adored it.
Okay, so I didn’t get the epic fantasy adventure book I was expecting, but I did get a book with an amazingly determined young heroine who makes mistakes, but always works to correct them. I got a beautifully intriguing, if somewhat sad world with “whodunit” murder mystery in which I had no idea who the culprit was. And I got an incredibly adorable, loyal, and simply amazing new cat friend in Jerrit. Seriously though: JERRIT!
The world: The world was beautifully inspired by Asian culture. In a world with a limit on children, The City of a Thousand Dolls was built for unwanted girls. Within this city are multiple “houses” to teach the girls apprenticeships so that they can be bought in the future for their skills. The houses include music, pleasure, healing, nobility, combat, and beauty. Add in a history of magic, spells, and shape-shifting and you have a harsh and beautiful world.
Nisha is simply a heroine you can root for. She would make some rash, emotional decisions, but ultimately worked hard to right her wrongs. She is incredibly determined, curious, and loyal. She’s just got such a good heart! And Jerrit. How I adore him. He’s a talking cat. A talking cat! I’m not a cat person (#DogsRule) but I love books with talking cats. And he is just incredibly sweet and loyal and brave. I adore him.
At its core, this book is a murder mystery. I have to say that it was incredibly well done. I had no idea who the culprit was. This is what kept me glued to my seat because I had to know! Ultimately, while I was somewhat disappointed by the actual murderer (I wanted it to be magic-y – crazy psycho villain anyone?), it was also incredibly believable, albeit petty.
Standalone or no? Technically. There is another book, but it is more of a prequel. It’s about Nisha’s parents so it will include information relevant to this book, but this book does work well as a standalone (if you don’t mind not having all the answers). So far as I know there is no direct sequel in the works.
Though I adored it, 2 things bothered me:
I loved it. I really did. But it is more like a light fantasy murder mystery. I adored the characters (read: JERRIT) and was intrigued by the world she created. It’s also lush and simply beautifully written. However, my biggest issue is the lack of depth. Especially considering the fact that the potential is there. Lots of pieces are given, but never developed. If there was a sequel, I’d most likely be okay with this. Since there is not, it leaves me wanting. However, this book does easily work as a standalone. You get enough information to at least feel closure about Nisha’s past. Any holes in her story will most likely be filled in during the second companion/prequel novel. The world, though, is another story because my interest is in its future, not its past.
Despite these misgivings, I’m so glad I read it. It really was a captivating and beautifully written book with wonderful characters and talking cats.
You know those books that you pick up and don't expect to be touched by and, after finishing, you realize you were poorly mistaken? This is one of those cases. But "City of a Thousand Dolls" won me over with its charm, however juvenile it may have seemed for other readers. I went in expecting another typical YA novel but boy was I mistaken.
"City of a Thousand Dolls" is unique with its premise. Few books come to mind that can be compared to this one in terms of level of originality. Forster created a world however that was not only spectacular in its history and diverse characters and details but she also did so with great confidence and authority that is very respectable to see in a writer. The stories of the houses, the world building and the explanation for caste rule as well as the ideas that spoke against the regime were all well interconnected with the story of our main character that it was seamless. Not too many books have been doing that lately so it was very enjoyable to read a book that finally does so.
Despite the presence of your standard YA romance I was soon proved to be wrong in this department. I predicted who the killer was but couldn't piece together the "justification" for their actions myself, and the explanations for that as well as about Nisha's past and her background were all so enjoyable to read and all so logical that I couldn't complain about them either. And the cats...ah such an adorable touch! They truly were sweethearts that made me smile whenever they came into the story.
Nisha is one admirable heroine. She has the balance of bravery and a questioning, weaker underbelly that makes for a well-rounded and realistic protagonist that I think many YA novels lack. Here however it was so difficult not to sympathize with her and want to know the answer to the questions as much as she did.
It was wonderful. Truly enjoyable and light. It's by no means the next great work of literature and I think people who criticize this book do so somewhat unfairly. This book proves that there are still authors out there who write their books with good intentions, who don't just decide to jump on the bandwagon and start writing books that follow the stereotypical YA formula. This book covers diversity and the concepts of hierarchy and freedom in a way that is noticeable yet not in-your-face. It's truly admirable, and I wish more people would give this book a chance. It's a unique little gem that I'm glad to add to my personal library so I can revisit it over and over again.
I have waited two years for this sequel and I wasn't disappointed.
From castes, to shifters called Sune. From frienships formed to a traitorous coup. This magical series is fantasy at it's finest.
The ending is a heartwarming and brilliant twist that beautifully sets up what is to happen in the next book........which I really hope I don't have to wait another two years for!!!
If you've been looking for something fresh in the fantasy department, pick up City of A Thousand Dolls and roll right into Empire of Shadows.