Title: The Dollhouse Asylum
Author: Mary Gray
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: October 22, 2013
A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields--a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus--she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.
At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne's heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.
The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now "Persephone," and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.
If they play it right, then they'll be safe.
But if they play it wrong, they'll die.
Oh man, I feel really bad about writing this review, but obligations. I wanted The Dollhouse Asylum so badly that I begged my way onto the tour. I mean, look at that synopsis! Have you read it yet? I thought I would be getting a book about a weird oldish guy (probably 30s to a teenager - it says "man") being creeptastic with the young girl. I guess it was a little bit like that, but the "older man" is in his early 20s, and Cheyenne is 18. Not what I had in mind. That is only the most minor of issues that I had with The Dollhouse Asylum.
The biggest problem that I had (and I really did try to get past it!) was the relationship between Teo and Cheyenne. They met because he was her math teacher. That is such a huge no for me. I am a firm believer that relationships should be between people who are equals, and the teacher-student dynamic is wrong on so many levels. Yes, I get that Teo is a sociopath and him perving on the young girl added a layer of icky to him. However, reading about their relationship from Cheyenne's point of view, thick with her giddiness and naivete, left a really bad taste in my mouth.
Speaking of Cheyenne, she was the final straw for me in The Dollhouse Asylum. Yes, I get that she's an innocent young girl with no brain. She is obsessed with making out with her teacher. She feels like a queen in Teo's kingdom and only thinks about how much she wishes her friends would love Mr. Perv as much as her. Oh yeah, she was completely blind to how the other teens were acting around Teo when she came in and thought it was because they didn't know him well. Ummm... Right... TDTL? She walked past the body bags into the encampment when he told her that those were the only way out. (Cheyenne never gave it a second thought.) She went through the booby traps. She ignored him treating them like puppets or dolls, making them dress and act like the characters he assigned to them. Cheyenne had no sense of danger or trouble until Teo started killing people.
Oh, there's supposed to be some kind of zombie thing going on outside, too, during all of this. The concept behind it was interesting, but it wasn't at the forefront of the novel. I didn't have enough damns to give to stick with the icky romance or dumb teenage girl to find out more.
I'm not saying that The Dollhouse Asylum is a bad book, but I just couldn't make it past Cheyenne's über naivete. Maybe she grew up and did fantastic things in the book. Who knows? I was already uncomfortable with her relationship with Teo and his using his authority as a teacher to brainwash her. I wasn't going to stay with the book because I was already irritated. It's just not for me.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.