I try to be sparing with what books I give 5 stars, because I like to reserve them for works that go above and beyond just loving them. For me, that extra star is earned by possessing some spark of brillance that speaks to something within me. Holly Black's "Doll Bones" is one such masterpiece.
As you can read from the blurb, the story tells about three friends who go on an impromtu little adventure to bury a doll which they believe is haunted by the ghost of a dead girl. But it is much more than that. It is simultaneously creepy and sentimental, haunting and tender. At it's heart, this is a coming-of-age story laced with gentle brushes of paranormal horror. It is eerie, it is touching, it is brillant.
The only downside I could find was with the first chapter which, for me, intially seemed to be a bit unfocused in POV. But after that, I felt it fell into a very cohesive piece and I was swept away.
The thing I think I find the most impacting about this book is how utterly sincere and genuine it comes across. The characters felt real. The story is believable. You can sense the truth in Black's words as if she were giving her reader a peak into her own childhood. I know I certainly connected to it - espeically to the character of Poppy, whose fears of growing up mirrored my own at her age. I see so much of myself in that character. But all the characters, Poppy, Zach and Alice are so complex that they don't feel like the frequent card board cut-outs of middle school heros we often read. These are real kids that we've known or we've been. For some of us, kids we still are.