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.
I received a copy of Puppet via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Even though I enjoyed Puppet there were a few issues with the book. Initially I felt that the first two chapters told us too much about Penelope too early on. These ‘facts’ could have been fed into the narrative slowly rather than been thrust into the opening chapters of the book. In some ways, chapter three felt like the perfect place to begin the narrative, suddenly the story took me by surprise, and began to capture my attention. Also there was a definite tendency for Pauline C Harris to tell rather than show which is a typical error that new writers, myself included, often make when beginning to write. So in my opinion, I do think that Pauline could have benefited from tighter editing from a professional in order for this novel to reach its full potential.
On the plus side I do think that the premise for Puppet is an interesting concept, an imaginative twist on the Pinocchio tale. Penelope is a troubled teenager living in an orphanage when Jed, a mad scientist offers to take her away in exchange for agreeing to be his experimental guinea pig! Under Jed’s scientific care Penelope becomes a human marionette and “her strings” are not physical attachments controlling her but the result of a drug administered to give her the ability to exert super human powers. When the “Administrators” find out about her abilities, and her lying, they threaten to take her away from Jed and James, so in desperation Jed takes away her ability to lie to compensate the Administrators. I found Penelope’s reaction to this interesting, she was distressed that this freedom which we take for granted is no longer something she is capable of. The pain of this loss is intense because in Penelope’s eyes lying is evidence of the last scrap of her humanity. Can you imagine never being able to lie? Lying isn’t always necessarily a wicked thing to do, sometimes we lie because we want to protect people’s feelings, e.g. when someone asks us if we like the way they dress! Ultimately the “Administrators” and in particular the evil Edelin’s intentions towards Penelope become clear. Her powers are forcibly used in a way that she finds abhorrent and distressing. She no longer has any control over her body’s potential for cruelty. The plot twists at the end of the narrative are unexpected and a welcome aspect of the fast paced story line, characterised by short punchy chapters.
I didn’t quite buy into the romance between Penelope and James, somehow it seemed a bit forced to me. Also it seemed a bit odd because I had considered them to be more like brother and sister, up until the point when they kissed each other!
I was surprised that Penelope didn’t have more qualms about participating in Jed’s experiments, after all who would want to? I know that she felt grateful for being released from the Orphanage and her debt to them, but somehow this just didn’t seem enough cause for her to allow Jed to inject her with a cocktail of unknown and potentially dangerous chemicals. Somehow she just seemed a little too compliant. In addition, I think that the characterisation of the characters could have been developed more as could the setting and background to the story. More detail about the science in the story and world building in this futuristic land would undoubtedly have made the story a richer read.This novel had a lot more to give and I was a little disappointed that it just didn’t quite get to the giddy heights that I had expected.
Having said all of this, I did enjoy the premise for the story, and the pace of the novel. I found it a quick read, gripping at times, and I do think this author has such potential. Pauline C Harris is a young writer, she is the same age as my eldest daughter who also loves to write! So well done to her for publishing at such a young age. Incidentally this is not her first novel she has already written a trilogy in 2013: Mechanical, Perfect, and Flawed, as well as children’s/middle grade fiction, The Secret’s of Evelyn Taylor, and another fairy tale retelling is coming out in 2015, Hourglass. Oh and she loves Star Trek and tea, so she gets a high five for that!
So if you like a quick read, and an unusual re-telling of Pinocchio pick up Puppet. For readers of Young Adult, Romance, and Fantasy.
“We won’t kill you,” the administrator repeats. “But …if you forgive the pun…” he trails off, smiling to himself at some internal joke. “There will be strings attached.”
Being forced to tell the truth doesn’t make me better than a criminal with a lie detector. Choice is what matters and my choice has been taken away.
I can feel panic slowly pulsing through my veins like venom.
The marionettes’ bodies are indestructible. They are capable of shuffling and dealing cards faster than the eye can perceive, of crushing rocks in the palms of their hands, of darting across rooms in the blink of an eye.
And now I am too.
It scares me more than it empowers me.
Book Trailer on Pauline C Harris’s WordPress Blog: paulinecharris.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/puppet-book-trailer
Have you read Puppet? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx