Lately, I have been trying to remember how I got introduced to my first Stacey Kade book. After hours of deliberation, I believe it must have been Goodreads and my unquenchable search for books written from dual perspectives that led me to her first novel, The Ghost and the Goth. I’ve never looked back since and she has become one of my favourite authors. Her works are literally un-put-down-able. I have recklessly sacrificed study and work commitments just so I can read another chapter.
Project Paper Doll is Stacey’s second YA trilogy. It is a nail-biting contemporary sci-fi thriller made up of equal parts sugar and tears, ample laughter and a little blood. The trilogy, consisting of The Rules, The Hunt and The Trials, interestingly, only spans over a few months and follows the lives of Ariane Tucker and Zane Bradshaw.
Ariane, is a human/extraterrestrial hybrid, manufactured in a lab for the purposes of serving as a super soldier/assassin some day, given her powers of telekinesis and telepathy. After spending 6 years locked up in the lab, she escapes with the aid of a compassionate security guard, Mark Tucker. However, instead of running away, they decide to hide in plain sight, Ariane assumes the identity of Mark’s deceased daughter and blends into the routine of human life by following the rules:
- Never trust anyone;
- Remember they are always searching;
- Don’t get involved;
- Keep your head down;
- Don’t fall in love.
And she faithfully adheres to those rules, until she inadvertently crosses paths with Zane Bradshaw…the son of the chief of police…who is aiding the labs in locating Ariane.
Ariane and Zane are definitely the crowning glory of the series. Despite being fictional, their fears, insecurities and motivations are relatable and more often than not hit home. I enjoyed their inner monologues as much as enjoyed the dialogue between them. They complemented each other really well and the alternating POVs are testament to this.
Zane’s character development over the course of the three books was particularly well done in my opinion, he transforms (in more ways than one) from a seemingly regular high-school jock into this very likeable yet unlikely hero. He also has a great sense of humor which makes his chapters a lot more enjoyable.
Ariane’s chapters in comparison, are initially rife with constant anxiety and fear, and later transform into anger which in turn gives way to cold hard determination. I particularly liked her observation of human behavior and society and her hilariously cute attempts at blending in. She is scary-gorgeous, in that order. Scary for the powers and skills she possesses and gorgeous because underneath she is all heart.
Another aspect I enjoyed immensely was the relationship between Ariane and Mark in the first instalment and I greatly missed this in the later books.
I found the contemporary setting quite refreshing. It is set in present day USA, no hint of dystopia, inter-galactic travel etc. YA, of late, if not contemporary realistic fiction, tends to be set in this unique fantasy worlds but I enjoyed that Stacey created the unbelievable within a believable world.
Finally, what made the reading the series more fun was being able to discuss it with Stacey herself over Twitter and Facebook. She is as lovely as her characters, if not more, and is happy to entertain/revel in your awes and gasps as you read.
The Bad & the Ugly
There is nothing grossly bad and/or ugly about the series. It has a fast paced and entertaining narrative that is not overly complex to follow despite being of the sci-fi persuasion. The second and third instalments are infinitely better than the first, mainly because the underpinning revelations, character dynamics and such a more fleshed out by then. Also, The Rules is very much a high-school drama which could have tedious if this was another writer, but Stacey’ s entertaining prose detracted me from dwelling too long on any high school clichés.
In Conclusion, The Project Paper Doll Trilogy is easily one of the best YA series in recent times and is certainly one of my favourites. It is a quick and entertaining read with its decent share of thrills and cliff-hangers to keep you hooked. I strongly recommend you give the series a try. Let us know what you think.