Study Guide

Doll Bones Exploration

By Holly Black


Zach had a different way for speaking for each of his figures. He wasn't sure that anyone could tell his voices apart, but he felt different when he talked in them. (1.4)

Playing with different characters makes Zach feel different inside. In this way, the game seems closely connected to his inner world.

Lady Jaye was a thief who'd begun traveling with William the Blade after she'd been unsuccessful in picking his pocket. She was loud and wild, almost nothing like Alice […]. (1.5)

Playing with toys lets Zach, Alice, and Poppy explore different sides of their identities. With Lady Jaye, the usually reserved Alice explores her wild side.

He liked the way the story unfolded as he wrote, liked the way the answers just came to him sometimes, out of the blue, like they were true things just waiting to be discovered by him. (2.20)

Playing and writing are two ways in which Zach explores the world around him. But now he's about to go explore the real world…

Getting on the bus in the middle of the night to a place they'd never been was daunting. It also seemed like a little bit of an adventure. (5.82)

Heads up, Zach: It's not going to be a "little bit of an adventure." Nope, this one's a biggie.

"We're not buying anything," he said. "We're pirates, remember." (10.81)

For years, Zach has played with William the Blade, his pirate figurine. Today, however, he's a pirate in real life, ready for the next adventure.

For better or for worse, they were on Beaver River, the current swinging them toward the Ohio. The wind overhead gusted with the promise of good sailing. (11.12)

Our young explorers enjoy a nice moment at "sea." Enjoy it while it lasts, sailors—you're about to get dunked in the river.

It was fun to act like William with Alice, and it was fun to sneak into a building in the middle of the day, when even scary things weren't that frightening. (13.79)

Zach, Alice, and Poppy are pretty tentative explorers when they leave their homes in the middle of the night. By the end of their trip, though, they're feeling much braver—perhaps to a fault.

Plus there was so much to see. They explored the conference room, the bathrooms, and two more storage rooms on the basement level. (13.93)

The fun continues as the gang explores the library. As they look around, they easily slip into play mode—it comes naturally to these three when they're together.

"You're really going to go up there?" Zach asked. "Brace the table and I will," Alice said. (15.37)

Alice, who hit puberty a few years before her two friends, seems pretty comfortable exploring the world. She is the one who breaks them into the library—and now she's the one who will break them out.

"Here's the plan. We all go look for the Queen. I'll take the basement. Poppy, you retrace your steps. Alice, you take the stacks on this level. We all meet up on the side of the library—the one that's close to the street." (15.48)

Notice that the gang splits up to look for the Queen, but they come back together afterward. They're finding it's safe to explore things on their own, but they still like to come back together.

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