You know those books that you pick up and don't expect to be touched by and, after finishing, you realize you were poorly mistaken? This is one of those cases. But "City of a Thousand Dolls" won me over with its charm, however juvenile it may have seemed for other readers. I went in expecting another typical YA novel but boy was I mistaken.
"City of a Thousand Dolls" is unique with its premise. Few books come to mind that can be compared to this one in terms of level of originality. Forster created a world however that was not only spectacular in its history and diverse characters and details but she also did so with great confidence and authority that is very respectable to see in a writer. The stories of the houses, the world building and the explanation for caste rule as well as the ideas that spoke against the regime were all well interconnected with the story of our main character that it was seamless. Not too many books have been doing that lately so it was very enjoyable to read a book that finally does so.
Despite the presence of your standard YA romance I was soon proved to be wrong in this department. I predicted who the killer was but couldn't piece together the "justification" for their actions myself, and the explanations for that as well as about Nisha's past and her background were all so enjoyable to read and all so logical that I couldn't complain about them either. And the cats...ah such an adorable touch! They truly were sweethearts that made me smile whenever they came into the story.
Nisha is one admirable heroine. She has the balance of bravery and a questioning, weaker underbelly that makes for a well-rounded and realistic protagonist that I think many YA novels lack. Here however it was so difficult not to sympathize with her and want to know the answer to the questions as much as she did.
It was wonderful. Truly enjoyable and light. It's by no means the next great work of literature and I think people who criticize this book do so somewhat unfairly. This book proves that there are still authors out there who write their books with good intentions, who don't just decide to jump on the bandwagon and start writing books that follow the stereotypical YA formula. This book covers diversity and the concepts of hierarchy and freedom in a way that is noticeable yet not in-your-face. It's truly admirable, and I wish more people would give this book a chance. It's a unique little gem that I'm glad to add to my personal library so I can revisit it over and over again.