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What: Puppet by Pauline C. Harris

Who: Patchwork Press

When: October 2014

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Patchwork Press for review.

Penelope never dreamed she’d become a superhuman experiment masquerading as a puppet.

She never dreamed everything would be taken from her; even her ability to lie.

Nor did she ever dream that she would become something so unreal.

Penelope lives in a world of advanced technology. 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.

I don’t think I have ever read a retelling of Pinocchio before Puppet. This fact is what drew me to the book quite a few years ago, and I finally read it in September. Sadly Puppet didn’t really hit the mark for me.

The story of Puppet was told in two parts and these two parts were so dissimilar it was hard to reconcile them as the same story. The first part of the novel was quite low key, and was mainly back story as well as Penelope figuring out some of her mannequin abilities. Most of this part was set at Penelope’s home, with some scenes of her showing off her skills at shows as well as visiting a doctor who was interested in her abilities.

The second part of the story was set in a prison/hospital ward and there were some political aspects suddenly introduced. It gave me reading whiplash to go from a story based at a girl’s home with no mention of politics to a story about this same girl being used for political gain.

I think Puppet would have benefited from bridging these two separate stories together. If there had been some world building and discussion about politics in the first half then it wouldn’t have come as such a surprise when the second half focussed so much on it. But as it stands there was no world building at all so I wasn’t even sure of the relevancy of the different political heads in the second half.

My favourite part of the novel was the middle where Penelope and James attempted to run away from the people who were after Pen and wanted to use her abilities. I thought this section of the novel was the most descriptive, and there was also a lot more development of both Pen and James’s characters as well as their relationship. I must admit I was sad that this part of the book was so short because I would have been happier if it had been longer.

I think with some work Puppet could have ended up being a really good novel, but in the end it just lacked quite a number of things. It needed more world building to set the scene for the second half. It also needed more development of Pen’s character, as well as James and Jed’s. Relationship development between the three of them would have gone far, as well. Unfortunately Puppet was lacking these things and in the end I just didn’t fall in love.

© 2020, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

human experimentation, loss of body autonomy, reference to death of parents, mild blood and gore, abduction, use of ableist language, car crash

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Posted on: October 2, 2020 • By: Chiara

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