Khanh the Killjoy

The Dolls - Kiki Sullivan
This is one of the most shallow, insipid YA paranormal books I have ever read. It is filled with descriptions of clothes, descriptions of beautiful, wealthy people, meaning-filled loving gazes, and not much more than that.

I might get more complexity from the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.
He looks up as we pass, and for an instant, our eyes meet, and it feels like the world slows on its axis.
Most voodoo books I've read have been, well, doodoo. This book totally sucked, too, but here's the difference. It's still a steaming pile of poo, but it's shit that doesn't stink. It's shit that has no personality. Instead of a fresh, steaming pile of crap, this is fecal matter that's been dried, dunked in bleach, and then encased in plastic because all the character (however stinky) that made the poo interesting in the first place has been completely removed from it.

This book is as whitewashed as voodoo gets. It's an insult to the original religion.

It has:

1. A special, different main character
2. Insta-love
3. A love triangle between a mysterious (and light-skinned black boy!) and a nice, sweet boy-next-door type (shocking!)
4. The most flavorless Southern atmosphere I have ever encountered within a book. This is the South, but don't worry, there's nothing that resembles it in our town, because it's a fucking magical town that looks like a picturesque New England town, y'all
5. Voodoo that has been sanitized within an inch of its life. It's closer to a bastardized version of chanting underneath the moonlight Wicca than anything remotely like the original African/West Indies religion.
6. More clothes than magic. More brand-dropping than paranormal. Chanel. Bling. Furs. Bring on the wealth.

Don't bother.

The Summary:
“Look, I’m all for the idea of bringing a bunch of hot college guys to town, but are you sure we should be opening the gates if a bunch of magic-haters are out to kill us?”
We're the Dolls and we are. Fab. U. Lous.

We are the Queen Bees of Pointe Laveau high school. We are the descendants of Voodoo practitioners, our families rule the town, and we do anything we please.
We can have anything we want. Good grades. Fabulous clothes. Immunity from teachers’ punishments. Control over everything. Lust and love from whatever boys we choose. It’s all ours. Doesn’t that interest you?”
We are stunningly beautiful, all of us.
Across the group of mourners, two impossibly beautiful girls are staring right at me. One is a beautiful honey blonde with perfectly tanned skin. The other, who’s even more stunning, has glistening cocoa skin, a perfect model’s body, and mounds of wildly gorgeous ebony curls.
They’re surrounded by three guys and two other girls, all of whom are also gorgeous
We rule the school. Pointe Laveau is within Carrefour, Louisiana, a town for the ultra-rich. Even among the wealthy, we are the elites.

We wear the most stunning clothes, and we hope you like seeing clothing descriptions because they are on practically every page. But we're worth it, our clothes are all designer, and they deserve to be shown off.
She’s paired her oxford with a set of Chanel pearls featuring a diamond-encrusted, interlocking double C. Her high-heeled Mary Janes are studded with what look like diamonds, and her hair is artfully mussed.
The school has a dress code? Oh, you don't say. Guess what, we don't give a flying fuck.

Fuck classes. Fuck the drinking age. Alcohol in school? Why the eff not.
“Gin and tonic?” Arelia asks eagerly as she smoothes a corner of the blanket. It’s cashmere, I notice. “Or would you prefer champagne today?”
Our lunches are catered. We don't eat in the cafeteria like the bourgeoisie. Everywhere we go, we are trailed by an adoring crowd of admirers.
Not only are they undoubtedly the most gorgeous girls in school, but they’re being trailed by a crowd of adoring-looking guys as they sweep into the cafeteria in a cloud of expensive perfume.
Our version of Voodoo involving dancing around a circle to open the protective gates of our community in order to meet boys.
“Dandelion and mojo beans, sandalwood and lemon balm, we draw your power. Spirits, open the gates of Carrefour on Saturday night.”
Eveny, we welcome you to our circle. First on the itinerary to become a voodoo queen: a makeover.
"We’re getting you a haircut and a makeover on Thursday after school. We’ve already scheduled an appointment for you at Cristof’s Salon.”
The thing is, I’ve always felt a half step different from everyone else.
Meet your main character, Eveny. About to turn 17, she is your typical special, different main character with immensely powerful power who doesn't do jack shit to earn it. A descendant of a powerful Voodoo Queen, Eveny holds tremendous powers...powers of which she doesn't have a fucking clue. Powers that she has never learned. Power that she has never earned. Powers that comes through her only through the lucky accident of her birth. Give me a break.

I hate characters who have no merit. I hate characters who inherit everything by the basis of luck. Eveny is wealthy because of who she is. Eveny is powerful because of her bloodline. She never fucking has to earn anything. She never works hard for anything. I have zero respect for her. She knows The Dolls are shallow, and yet she feels a connection to them anyway, she slums with the poor kids, she can similarly chill with the rich kids. She dangles a guy along while lusting after another. Eveny is a character without character.

The Setting:
“It’s like one big country club,” I say.

A half-dozen shops that look like they belong in an Atlantic seaside resort town—not middle-of-nowhere Louisiana—extend down the left side of the street.
Expecting an authentic, drowsy, languid, atmospheric Louisiana setting? You're shit out of luck.

You want hot weather? Swamps? Fuck you. The privileged gated community of Carrefour in which Eveny lives is magically climate-controlled. There are flowers and temperate climates year-round. There are McMansions everywhere. Designer boutiques. French bakeries. It's like fucking Beverly Hills. There is no local flavor, unless our precious precious fucking Eveny decides to slum it out and go into the slump for a crawfish boil. And even then, the crawfish is frozen. What kind of self-respecting Louisianan eats frozen crawfish?

There is almost nothing of the Southern atmosphere that I love so much. The gated community of Carrefour might as well be anywhere, and indeed, it is described as looking like an "Atlantic seaside resort." Fuck that, seriously. The town is so tremendously wealthy, and the wealthy areas, not the actual, realistic South, is where we spend most of the time. There was no fucking point to this book being in the South, besides the fact that the setting is used as an excuse for the fuck-up sanitized version of "Voodoo" within this book.

And speaking of "voodoo."

"At one time our ancestors were very powerful practitioners of voodoo. But in 1863, they, along with Peregrine’s and Chloe’s ancestors, struck their own deal with the fates because they felt voodoo was getting too commercialized."
This is what passes for voodoo in this book. It's practically Wicca in its cleanliness. It's herbs, dancing, a few cute little voodoo dolls. Now, I know that voodoo isn't the bloody sport that it's portrayed as in the media. I know that it's not all animal sacrifice. I know it's a peaceful religion, I don't expect gore and magic and screaming. I, however, expect more than....
...some sort of sorority ritual.
And more than...
“There are a few things to know: First, all charms have to start with asking Eloi Oke to open the gate so that we can talk to the spirits. Second, they all have to involve herbs or flowers, because we channel our power from them. Third, they always have to be specific. Like you can’t say, ‘Make all the boys fall in love with me.’ Instead you’d have to ask for your own beauty enhancements, or ask for the love of a specific guy. Or both.”
The Romance: There is insta-love. There is a love triangle. Eveny falls into insta-love with a...
“But I mean the one with the blue eyes,” I mumble.
“The light-skinned black dude?” Drew asks.
Are you kidding me? Can't you just make the love interest, you know completely black? Why does he have to be light-skinned? Why does a black guy have to have blue eyes? Oh, I get it, it's striking, but I can't help but feel so severely disappointed that what feels like copping-out on the issue of a person-of-color love interest.

Oh, and the love triangle. That fucking love triangle. Between the light-skinned black guy Caleb whom every girl in town lusts after, and nice guy Drew, whom she just can't bring herself to care about, despite the fact that he's obviously in insta-love with her.
I wish I weren’t thinking about Caleb. I wish I hadn’t spent the last twenty-four hours daydreaming about being pressed up against the solid chest I’d collided with outside the library.
As if I didn't make it quite clear: so not recommended.

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected review copy subject to change in the final edition.