Puppet by Pauline Harris

Posted January 9, 2015 in Book Review / 0 Comments


I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Puppet by Pauline HarrisPuppet by Pauline Harris
Published by Patchwork Press on October 24th 2014
Genres: Retelling, Science fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 246
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

Penelope lives in a world of advanced technology but many claim society has yet to catch up. Marionettes have advanced in the form of robots; lifelike creations remote controlled to perform super human tasks.

When Penelope makes a deal with Jed, a marionette-obsessed scientist, she doesn’t fully realize what she’s getting herself into. In order for Jed to take her away from the orphanage she lives in, she must first agree to undergo his experiments and tests, ultimately creating something no one ever dreamed possible; the first living marionette.

As Jed shows off his scientific creation to the world, concerns arise surrounding Penelope’s abilities and what she’s capable of doing. ordered to somehow lessen her abilities, Jed makes a desperate attempt to change Penelope to make her more human, more vulnerable. After Penelope lies to the officials about her past, Jed makes sure it’s the last one she’ll ever utter. The truth is now the only thing she is capable of telling.

As Penelope struggles with her past, her disturbingly new present, and her uncertain future, she is thrust into a magically twisted world of mayhem in search of the one thing she wants, but knows she can never have. The chance to be just a girl again. To be normal. To be real.

Main Points
Writing Style:
The only big complaint I really have is that it was rushed a little. The concept was great and I feel like it could have easily been drawn out into a sequel or perhaps even a series with the addition of a few more details or scenes. A few things I felt that were lacking were Jed’s feelings- I felt like there were a lot of missing conversations between him and Pen (especially after Pen’s capture), even though there were plenty of good ones. Another thing I didn’t really feel was the romance between Pen and James. I did at the beginning and I knew it was coming (and was excited) and when it finally happened I was happy, but I still felt like it was rushed. For James’s part, he did a fine job. But with Pen, it was different. There wasn’t any romance on her end (on either end, really, but she didn’t even think about it while I got the feeling that James did) and she never really thought about her feelings for him except, well, once, and even in that thought process she didn’t come to the conclusion that she loved him. It was like she wouldn’t have even considered it unless he brought it up first, and then she was like, oh I guess I do, huh would you look at that? Well, it wasn’t really that indifferent from her end. And the whole lying thing actually made it kind of exciting. Like…she couldn’t have known how she really felt until she tried to say something out loud, whether it be a confession of love or the opposite. More on the lying later.
And from there I thought the romance went fine until James almost betrayed her. No real spoilers here. But it was so unlike him and so unrealistic that I really just couldn’t believe it. He loved her for so long, finally got her and then…to turn on her so easily like that? Okay, so we could see it was hurting him, but the fact that he would even be capable of it given how he felt was astonishing. That’s when I kinda stopped caring about the relationship, no matter how it turned out.
But I feel like it was equally about her relationship with Jed and how he was supposed to be a father figure, and he totally was albeit a strange one. And he did some really messed up things. But for some reason I never doubted his authenticity. So…that was good, I guess.
Another big theme was control. There was a lot of good internal dialogue about how she feels as a puppet and good comparisons and things. Like the strings motif that runs through the story in different ways. Very good for the retelling aspect.
And the things they did to her were abominable. Not just the bad guys. Although the plot shifts so suddenly towards the end, it’s like who’s who? What’s really going on here? And I’m still not entirely sure of the ending- I felt like there must have been some kind of massive deus ex machina, but I’m not sure what it was. Maybe I missed something because I was reading too fast, but that’s not usually the case. Hm.
The world-building could also have been a little better. I felt like there was such stark contrast between the science part of the world and the rest of the people that knew of science and called it magic. And the purpose of marionettes- the robot ones- was never really elaborated on. I also feel like it didn’t help that we started in the middle of the action- in media res- because some straightforward background, not just of her but of the world- would have been nice.
Anyway. One of the things I really did want to talk about was the concept of lying. See, that’s one of the big things- shall I say strings- tying her to Pinocchio. But it’s also a really curious thing. Her ability to lie was taken away. No, her nose doesn’t grow, but she simply can’t say words that are lies. It’s interesting because then you find out how many things you say naturally that you don’t mean, how many white lies, and you find out things about yourself that you didn’t know. In my opinion, it would also be useful to find out things you could otherwise have no way of knowing, but that’s never really explored. Well, once it is, when she says she’s going to be all right after an accident. But with that kind of predicting power, she could have tried to say ‘I will be caught by administrators’ before making her escape. And she’d know whether that was a lie or not. Man, that could have changed everything, if that’s really how that works. But oh well. The story would have been quite different, would it not? That wasn’t the point, however. It goes back to control. It was the choice to lie that was taken from her, and as she told Jed, it’s the choice that determines whether you are good, not the ability to only tell the truth (and be trustworthy).
Now, I know this story was a NaNoWriMo project and that may explain its hastiness, but I would still have liked it to be longer in editing.
Good vs. Bad
  • concept
  • most plot
  • characters
  • writing
Less than perfect:
  • length
  • romance
  • some plot
Bottom Line
While this could definitely have been longer, the concept and writing were great. The characters were pretty good even if the world-building was lacking. The romance was good at some points, but not others. Would I read more by this author? Yep. Would I recommend this book to others? Eh, I guess.

About Pauline Harris

Pauline C. Harris is the author of middle grade and young adult science fiction novels and published her first book at the age of fourteen. She’s currently working toward a degree in English. Other than writing, her time is consumed mainly by reading, playing the violin, watching old black and white movies, and trying to survive her college classes.

Overall: three-stars


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