Doll Bones – Audio Book Review

By Holly Black
Published on: April 14, 2015

This is a 2014 Newberry Honor winner. For whatever reason Newberry selections aren’t typically books I enjoy, but I didn’t know that it was a Newberry Honor story when I selected the audio book from the library. I was just looking for another potentially spooky book since this is October and Halloween is around the corner and a doll with actual bones definitely sounds like it falls within the creepy category.


Discover the Newbery Honor winner Doll Bones, from Holly Black, the cocreator of the Spiderwick Chronicles. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book. A School Library Journal Best Book. A Booklist Editor’s Choice Books for Youth. A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book. A NYPL “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.” A People Magazine “Best New Kids Book.” Six starred reviews!

Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.

But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.

Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?


Soooooooo much middle school drama in this audio book. Honestly, it was too much drama. I am caught between wondering if the cause of my dislike is because the narrator did too good of a job or if it is the story in general. I’m leaning toward both. I usually love narrators that really act out the scenes, who give different voices to different characters and is able to pull you into the drama of it all. However, I think it may have worked against me for this book. I believe it was during the 19th argument scene between the three kids that I said to myself “I did middle school once. Do I really want to subject myself to this again?” But I continued listening – mainly because I wanted to know about the doll and if there really was a ghost inside it.

What I Liked or At Least Thought was Well Done

  • I really liked the characters of Alice and Zach. Alice’s gentle nature and both of their budding crushes on each other was cute and nice to read.
  • Although I didn’t enjoy any of the drama, I did find it authentic. If I remember correctly, middle school was full of drama and these three kids portrayed it in all of its glory. Telling secrets that you weren’t supposed to. Sniping at each other.
  • I also found the illogical decisions that were made fairly authentic too. As an adult, I can easily see that it might make more sense to give yourself a little planning time when you are about to have a serious adventure. Perhaps give it at least a week of planning so that you have time to get everything you might need? However, I don’t personally remember being that mature at that age. What I remember is making some rash and thoughtless decisions like these kids did.
  • I also really enjoyed the relationship growth between Zach and his father. This was very nicely done, in both the story and narrating.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • All the drama. While listening it sometimes felt like there was non stop fighting and bickering, which to be honest wasn’t all that fun to listen to in an audio book.
  • Although I enjoyed the characters of Alice and Zach, I didn’t really connect with Poppy. I know you need a Poppy-type of character in a book. One that doesn’t like to bend or give in, or someone who will manipulate the situation and others to get what she wants. But she was so singularly focused that it was frustrating for me. This was especially apparent to me when she promised Alice something, but then later has no regard to keeping this promise or Alice’s feelings or concerns regarding the matter.

In the end, I’d love to say this Newberry Honor book was a winner for me too, but it just didn’t work for me. It was just too much drama and not enough of a spooky or creepy element to help me overlook the parts I wasn’t enjoying.

Rating: 3 stars

5 thoughts on “Doll Bones – Audio Book Review

  1. Definitely creepy! The doll with bones got me! Can’t believe all the rave reviews. I enjoyed your fair and honest review — laying out the pros and cons. But, I can see that the drama would appeal to teens. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I’m also not much into a lot of drama in MG books—but I’m not the intended audience as they usually get into it more. The plot and characters you described are intriguing enough I will add this one to my TBR list. Thanks for featuring a creepy story for this Halloween week on MMGM.


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