The debate was whether we get the title for a lit set or not. The cover, though relevant to the story, makes one think the book is "girly" (even if the doll looks a bit creepy). That sadly enough nixed the book--in which case, I had to read it because I wanted to know what it was about. The actual plot of Doll Bones by Holly Black--three middle school friends embark on an adventure to find out the truth about the mysterious doll known as the "queen." Zach, Poppy, and Alice turn the story from imaginary kid play to a full-on traveling adventure.
What helps balance the story is that its 3rd person perspective follows Zach, a middle school boy, struggling between playing a game using imaginative stories through "doll play" with his friends, Poppy and Alice or taking on a more stereotypical middle school boy persona and hanging out with his basketball teammates. There's a moment of harsh reality when his deadbeat father trashes his dolls telling him it's for his own good. I could feel Zach's anger radiate off the page...that's descriptive character writing.
The story progresses into an adventure because of Zach's secondary reaction to his dolls being destroyed, which is to tell Poppy and Alice he doesn't want to play the game anymore. The next thing you know is that Alice and Poppy are standing underneath Zach's window telling him the ghost of the "queen" has spoken to Poppy and she wants them to bury her in her lost grave. The journey the three friends find themselves on is wrought with mystery, suspense, and the challenge of facing adulthood.
Needless to say, I'm recommending it as a lit set.
Image from blackholly.com.