Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Your Geisha On

"She wanted someplace to belong,
someplace where she could be free"
--Miriam Forster, City of a Thousand Dolls

Genre: YA Fantasy and Dystopia
Publisher: Harper Teen, 361 pages
Publication Date: February 5th, 2013
Source: ARC won from Epic Reads

Goodreads Description

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.

My Thoughts

Gah!!!! This was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013 and if all of them are like this I will be one happy reader! I loved this book. We all know I geek out over a good fantasy book and this was absolutely no exception. So, in this story, there is an enclosed city where only young girls live; they are trained to be experts in different areas depending on their skills or interest. The city is divided up into different houses and each house is the home for a specific set of skills (anyone else hear Liam Neeson's voice in Taken when I said that? "I have specific set of skills..." haha, sorry, sidenote) such as healing or combat, etc.. 

To begin, the opening of the novel has a list of all the different characters and which house they belong to, as well as a hierarchy of the different castes of this society. Whoa. I am such a dork but the moment I saw this I had a feeling I would like this book. I love when authors do this. They give a a glimpse into the world they have created and while it makes absolutely no sense to you because you obviously haven't read the book yet, it still makes me way excited to start reading. And it provides a reference point. AND each section is opened by either a song or short story or legend from their culture. AMAZING!!! I think this is so cool! You know the author totally made this up just for their world, but you know it wholeheartedly belong to the story and the characters. Gah! 

The main character is Nisha; in love with a nobleman's son, talker to cats in her head, and assistant to the Matron aka headmistress of the entire system of girls. Oh no, you read that right, she can talk to the cats that roam the ground. She hears them in her head. Wicked cool. Nisha was abandoned as a child outside the city walls so she has always felt like an outsider. She yearns to be loved and have a family to call her own, but she has found a makeshift family with the cats as well as a few girls in the city. She is a great character. She is strong and smart and brave in her actions but inside she is also vulnerable and hungry for affection. I loved this about her. She was so complex and I really understood where she was coming from. She was very relatable and I love when characters are like this, makes the book that much better.

So like I said before, Nisha's primary job is as the assistant of the Matron...and then girls start dying. Nisha's role is then evolved into finding out why these girls are dying. And I must stop here because if I keep going I will give away most of the plot and confuse you all. BUT so much happens in this one book. Oh by the way, it's a stand-alone. Holla!! The plot twists and turns and there are so many hidden side stories and secrets that I wanted to just keep reading in order to figure out what the heck was going on.

The themes of this book are beautiful. Loyalty, family, honor. This book has it all. The relationship between Nisha and the cats was my favorite! They love her so much and are there for her no matter what. So ador. And the world building! Gushing. I loved it. All the different houses. How girls are trained. The schooling. The history of the city itself. The hierarchy of the castes. I loved it all. The writing is incredible and Forster really transports you to this beautiful yet mysterious world.

Overall, loved this book. World building was fantastic, the main character rocked and the the relationships were real. It was definitely a great choice to start off the year with and a great pick for a debut of 2013.


  1. I nominated you for a Liebster Award! :D Check it out:

  2. This is a book that I'm really excited about reading. First of all, I'm completely sucked in by that beautiful cover. I'm such a cover snob and that one is gorgeous. Second the summary sounds really interesting. Yours is, I think, the only review I've read and you make it sounds really great. I love that you liked it so much because we *seem* to read similarly, I think. Also, I was wondering if this was a standalone, but I never took the time to research that so thanks for clarifying!

    Anyway, just yesterday, I put this book on hold for me at the library. So when they get it in, I'm first!! YAY!!! That's pretty exciting to me because (sidenote) just this week is the first time we've ever been able to put things on hold for books that aren't released yet, and it isn't open to all the books yet. So I literally spent like two hours on the library system yesterday scouring for books. (end sidenote)

    Also, I chuckled at the Liam Neeson part in the beginning. Great review!

  3. I am dying to read this one. I am so interested and excited now, I think it's awesome that each chapter has a short story or something from the culture of the book. Now I am even more excited about it! Awesome review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven


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