City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire #1), by Miriam Forster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller/Murder, Romance
Rating: 3/5 stars
Publication: February 5, 2013, by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover Edition (borrowed)
Goodreads Summary: An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.
I usually never pick up high fantasy books that deal with the subject matter of assassins. But something about City of a Thousand Dolls just captivated me. Although this dealt with a lot of ideas I normally would never read about, the mystery intrigued me.
Imagine-- you live in a futuristic world where girls are spilt into different homes depending on their talents and adorations. This is what Nisha has grown up during almost of her whole life. She was abandoned at the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child-- and she never quite fit in with all of the luxuries and people. As life goes on, Nisha rapidly makes her way to be Matron's assistant, but everyone believes that she's not like everyone else. She has a destiny, and in order to live it, she has to figure out, quickly, because many of the girls she's known since she was young begin to die.
So yes, this book is very different than others and in my eyes, that is a very good thing. Miriam Forster takes the idea of assassins to a whole new level and this pleased me very much. Assassins are usually combined with a medieval concept, but this author placed the idea in a dystopian/science-fiction world where everyone was safe and sound in the beginning.
If you read this book in between the lines, you'll find that there is more weirdness and trouble than what it seems. Seeing this occurring is truly magic, and Miriam Forster has done it, at least in that aspect of the novel. I am not saying that this is an amazing novel-- because it absolutely wasn't, but it was very pleasing at times and thoroughly enjoyable. It was one of those reads that you want to spend time reading, but you won't read it over and over again.
The story started off very fast, but eventually slowed down and bored me. I was afraid that I wouldn't been able to encounter each character and know who is who, but the author did a fantastic job at reminding us who is who. I knew from the beginning that this was going to be one of those books with tons of characters, mostly secondary characters, who are going to be somewhat involved with the main problem.
There were some moments where I was wondering if I should put the book down or not, but I was curious to see the outcome, so I kept going. The ending was very shocking and surprising, but that probably was the only plot twist that got me saying "wow." There was probably 100 pages that could've been taken out of the book, and it really wouldn't make a difference in the book-- yes, it did get me bored quite a lot.
I didn't like Nisha. She was too stuck-up and thought that she was so special but suffering at the same time. For a book that deals with assassins and such, the author needs to incorporate a MC who's tough and is selfless. We just got a brat who's annoying and puts her and her safety first, before her country and city.
I didn't have a problem with the secondary characters because (a) The story was about their safety and (b) Nisha basically stole the show.
In conclusion, this book was okay, just okay. I would recommend it to lovers of fantasy, especially because it's a fantasy read with a twist, but also because of the strong incorporation of the idea that everyone has a back story and a reason for everything.