[I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.]
Mixed feelings regarding this novel: while I found the premise intriguing and a bit creepy (dolls who used to be human beings, possibly with a psychotic streak, I mean, come on, think “Chucky”), the explanation behind it all didn't convince me.
From the beginning, Ella's life is clearly on the twisted side, with a sort of Pygmalion-and-Galathea streak: she's living in the attic of a mysterious Professor, who turned her into a doll and seems to love her, but also to keep her locked inside. She cannot go out, she cannot talk to other dolls or people, and all she has—even though she seems content with it at first—is dancing, her bedroom in a chest, and a recorder that she uses to narrate adventures. So when the Professor brings in another doll, Lisa, of course our little heroine is happy... except Lisa quickly starts asking too many questions and behaving strangely, because *she* remembers what it is to be human, and being a doll doesn't sit with her. At all. No wonder she's going a bit cray cray here, I think anyone would.
And as Lisa's “madness” grows, Ella starts questioning more and more things, too, especially when Gabby, the Professor's granddaughter, comes to spend a few days in the house: Gabby is dying from an incurable illness... and wouldn't she make a pretty doll, too?
Well, as I said, I liked the story in the beginning; however, when the science part actually was revealed, it just didn't work. The Professor's goals were idealistic and positive, yet kind of naïve and unbelievable—I don't think the achievements he was striving for could be attained just like that. (Although it would be nice if they could.) This was too wishy-washy to my liking. Suspension of disbelief kind of fell and crashed to the floor.
There were a few plot holes, too, that I was hoping would be covered, and... weren't. What about the epidemics, for instance? A 95% mortality rate, and specifically targetted at O blood type people: that's quite a lot of potential victims (about 35-40% of the US population is in this group?). It was on the news on TV in the novel, sure, but like an after thought, and it was difficult to believe that people weren't more in a panic about it.
Also, the whole “she's a goth so it explains why she's psychotic (and why she used to cut herself)” was a) uncalled for, b) a stupid cliché. It may have been intended as a joke, but it didn't feel like it. (Yes, I am totally biased in that regard. There's so much more to the goth subculture than those images that, in fact, are exactly the ones that hurt, and make people bully those who embrace said subculture. Do not start me on that.)
Conclusion: good ideas in this story, and even though I found it more “OK” than “I really like it”, I may check out other works by this author later. Too bad the second half didn't follow so much with the whole “creepy dolls” vibe from the first half, as I would've liked that more...