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Among the Dolls
William Sleator
Tor, 84 pages

Among the Dolls
William Sleator
William Sleator is the bestselling author of The Beasties, The Night the Heads Came, Interstellar Pig, and many other popular novels combining horror and science fiction. Sleator divides his time between homes in Boston, Massachusetts, and rural Thailand.

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A review by Dan Shade

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Writing these reviews is just too much fun. I am finding young adult science fiction to be a place where writers feel safe to try out new ideas, possibility because young minds are more open to new things. Although, one might classify this short novel as a Twilight Zone story, I feel it was much more than that. Of course it wasn't a hard read; 84 pages can be read in less than an hour. It was the uniqueness and the richness of this story that kept me turning pages.

Ten-year-old Vicky, is crushed when she receives a dusty, old doll house for her birthday instead of the shiny, new 10-speed bike she'd been hinting about so much. She rushes to her bedroom in tears. However the doll house soon begins to draw her interest and she soon begins play with it a great deal. Vicky then begins making the doll house people behave like the real people in her life. She is unaware that doll house people become the people you make them. If you always play with the father as a mean person, the doll really develops that personality trait.

So, when Vicky finds herself in the doll house, she is surprised that all the dolls are so mean. She thinks of every way possible to get out, promising them anything they could possibly want from her as a human. They don't buy it for a second. They want to hurt her and put her through the same kind of pain they've been through. Perhaps they want to hurt her even more, there are intimations that this is so.

Vicky's battle to get back to her real world is a hard and clever one. The book carries strong messages about judging people and making lasting relationships. I recommend it to people of any age.

(This review first appeared on Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.)

Copyright © 2010 by Dan Shade

Dan Shade is a retired college professor who loves to read young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror. But he doesn't draw the line there. He also enjoys writing science fiction and hopes to publish someday. In the meantime, you can find him at lostbooks.org (under construction).


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