Wednesday, 25 September 2013
The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray
Author: Mary Gray
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release: October 22nd 2013
Pages: 296 (Paperback)
Pre-Order: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields--a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus--she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.
At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne's heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.
The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now "Persephone," and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.
If they play it right, then they'll be safe.
But if they play it wrong, they'll die.
I feel like I have been waiting for this since forever! (Alright, it was only since April - but my point still stands!) So when I got it in the post, I literally shrieked with excitement - and I mean full-on, wave-your-hands-in-the-air excitement. Dystopian fiction has been my favourite genre for well over two years now, but despite my love for it, the same initial idea has been done over and over again, so much so that I'm getting kind of sick of it. The best thing about The Dollhouse Asylum is that Gray's idea is completely fresh - I haven't come across another book quite like it.
After a dormant virus reactivates and spreads across the world, Teo Richardson gathers a selection of seven couples and takes them to Elysian Fields, his version of paradise. To begin with, everyone thinks it is heaven on Earth - until he begins to kill people off. Adopting the persona's of famous romantic couples, the couples must play along and fight to survive - but in the end, what's better? Teo's tyrannical rein, or the deadly virus outside?
Before I get too engrossed in the review and forget to mention it, isn't the cover just gorgeous? I try not to base the books I read on the covers, but this is by far one of the best I've ever seen! Not only does it tie-in with the novel, but it easily captures the eye. I definitely wouldn't mind having a copy on my shelf!
I know I already mentioned the brilliance of the plot idea earlier, but I really am impressed with the extent of Gray's imagination when it came to writing this book. I love literature in general, and recently I've found myself becoming more attracted to the classics - so to see Gray bring alive all these different classic couples and give them a modern twist completely fascinated me. I know you have a lot of paranormal retellings surrounding Greek mythology and whatnot, but Gray's interpretation just had that uniqueness to it that I haven't seen in quite some time.
I loved how down-to-earth and realistic Cheyenne was (though for the life of me, I cannot pronounce her name!) Gray characterised her with the same thought-processes that any real teen would have, enabling the reader to relate to her despite the slightly unrealistic scenario. The only problem I had with any of the characters was that I didn't feel the supposed chemistry between her and Marcus - on the contrary, I actually wanted her to be with Teo, despite his crazed actions and twisted mentality! Those two had something between them, whereas Marcus and Cheyenne's chemistry just fell rather flat.
I think it's for that reason that I'm giving this a four-star rating rather than a five. I honestly loved everything about this novel - apart from the ending. For me, I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a depressing ending - you know, where the psychopath actually prevails. There was so much tension throughout the entire novel - would they escape? would they not? - and then it all came to an abrupt climax within the last few chapters. Spoilers for the rest of the paragraph, but their escape was far too easy in my eyes. There was barely a fight, barely any struggle - yes, there were some deaths, but they were over so quickly that they hardly registered! It was a bad ending to such a promising book.
However, despite my dislike of the ending, I did still really enjoy it. If I had to sum the entire book up in one word, it would be page-turner - you can't put it down! This is Gray's debut, and already I am impressed! I can't wait to see what she has next up her sleeve.