Gothic Lolita: A Mystical Thriller



Chelsea lives in Los Angeles; Miya lives in Tokyo. Other than the fact they're both half Japanese and obsessed with dressing like Gothic Lolitas, they would seem to have nothing in common. Or do they?


They got to know each other through their blogs. But three years ago something happened to Chelsea, an event so ...

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Chelsea lives in Los Angeles; Miya lives in Tokyo. Other than the fact they're both half Japanese and obsessed with dressing like Gothic Lolitas, they would seem to have nothing in common. Or do they?


They got to know each other through their blogs. But three years ago something happened to Chelsea, an event so terrible that she stopped writing altogether. Miya's been checking Chelsea's blog ever since, to see if she's come back, but she never has. Until today.


Today is the day Chelsea finally goes back online and tells Miya everything. And today is the day that Miya's life could change forever because of it.

Like a Japanese manga come to life, Gothic Lolita is a mythic fairy tale about love, death, and rebirth...and the courage it takes to reach out to another soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Ambitiously structuring her stylish novel as alternating narratives and interspersing these with black-and-white photos, Lane (The Secret Life of It Girls) focuses on two half-Japanese, half-American girls who forge an unusual bond over their blogs, loneliness and fascination with the gothic Lolita subculture. Chelsea is in L.A. and Miya is in Japan; they've never spoken or even exchanged messages-they simply read each other's blogs. Their lives mirror each other's in their tragedies: when Miya's mother killed herself, her father abandoned her and her brother to an orphanage; Chelsea has not blogged for three years, since her brother disappeared). A manga that the girls love and the photographs add a surreal layer, as do the many mystical elements. There is even a suggestion that the girls have twin souls: Miya's grandmother consoles her about the twin who died in utero by saying that she was born immediately to someone else. Readers will find themselves quickly engrossed. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Written in "blog" style, the book's premise is intriguing. Two half Japanese girls—Chelsea in Los Angeles and Miya in Tokyo—cyber met several years ago reading each other's blogs. Three years before the story begins, Chelsea's brother either dies or disappears; I could not figure that out. Chelsea is devastated and stops writing on her blog. Miya keeps checking Chelsea's blog to see if she has started writing again. In the end, Chelsea agrees to her mother's plan to adopt Miya and her younger brother. There are hints of mysterious happenings to both girls and psychic connections between them. Many things confused me. For instance, why are Miya and her brother living in what seems to be an orphanage when their father is still alive? Turns out the brother has some kind of behavioral problem the parents cannot deal with it, so when Miya's mother dies or runs off, the father puts the boy in an institution and Miya goes with him. By the time the story starts, their father has died. I found it hard to believe that Miya would be allowed her own computer in such a setting. I was not sure at all what happened to Chelsea's father, but Chelsea does begin to deal with the loss of her brother toward the end of the book. I had a hard time keeping straight which girl was speaking; the voices were way too similar. But the girls were appealing characters and I did learn about another teen age fad. The author included photos depicting scenes from the book. I will get my teenage readers to give me their views on this book. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Chelsea, who lives in Los Angeles, and Miya, who lives in Japan, started blogging when they were 11 and were almost like sisters. Both are half Japanese. They shared a love of Gothic Lolita fashions and a shojo manga character, gothiclolita009. Passages from the series in which she stars are interspersed throughout the book. The teens are now 16, and Chelsea suddenly stopped writing three years ago, but Miya continues to blog. It is through her postings to Chelsea that readers learn her story: her mother died, and her father dies as the story opens; before that he had placed her and her three-year-old brother in an orphanage. Readers will feel her pain, loneliness, and fear about what will happen to her and her brother, now that she is at the age when she must leave the institution. She is desperate to contact the one person who will understand how she feels: Chelsea. Meanwhile, readers know that Chelsea is also suffering; her younger brother disappeared three years earlier, and she feels responsible. The story is told in alternating chapters by the teens. There's some lovely writing here, and some highly charged emotions. While the book leaves some questions unanswered, on the whole it's a satisfying read.-Ann Nored, Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, TN

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416913962
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dakota Lane is the author of two traditional novels for teen readers, Johnny Voodoo, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and The Orpheus Obsession. She is also the author/photographer of the visual novel The Secret Life of It Girls. She lives between a river and a mountain in Woodstock, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Chelsea Part One. Los Angeles.


i have to ask you something.
do you ever wish you had someone (not the sky someone, but a real person) who could share your reality?
there would be nowhere you could go that this person couldn't go, down to the details of your last strange dream. you'd be in this game together, just you and the other person creating the entire world.

i had that once, almost perfectly. and i want to tell you about it, but do i start with my reality — or do i tell you about the dream?

i've been having this dream.

i go to sleep at night — and then every morning, just at that point between light and dark, when the room seems to be jumping with shadows and energy, i dream that i awaken.

i awaken with akio in the room.

akio is a transparent green boy with cat ears. i would call him my invisible playmate, but he was always visible to me when i was small. he disappeared when i was three or younger, but here he is, back again in my dream.

and in this dream, i run out after akio — and instead of my familiar block in los angeles, we're in a place with no houses, the air so warm and still, trees all around.

akio is racing ahead, and i'm following him into a magical forest....

and in the forest, akio leads me back to my little brother, memphis, and in this dream, i'm allowed to finally hug him.

i can touch his cheeks, i can really see him again, and i'm looking at every pore of his skin and thinking this time it's real — but before i can talk to my brother, he's running, and i'm chasing him through the sun-splashed forest.

sometimes we play — all our old games — and sometimes he hides and i can't find him. but always, i end up being tired, and even though i am already sleeping, i close my eyes within the dream and curl up on the forest floor and sleep.

and when i wake, real life seems dimmer than the dream.

even now, half the colors are washed out of the world.

it's early in the morning and i'm walking to school, first day of tenth grade. dressed in hot dark clothes.
as i walk, my heels beat a rhythm into the pavement: MIYA, MIYA, MIYA, MIYA.

miya — of course you're on my mind. i need to talk to you, but i'm torn.
i need you to be more than a phantom girl.
i also need you to recede into the shadows even farther.
i almost wish you would disappear, but today i can't pretend you're just an internet friend.

i should turn around and go back home. get online and tell you all the things i should have told you years ago.

but fear keeps me moving ahead, an invisible hand pulling me alongside the city park, keeping me on this pointless track. as long as i don't talk to you, i can stay in this in-between world, watching life like it's a river — flowing just out of reach.

birds chirping, moms pushing babies, a rush of noisy kids surging past me. school's just ahead, across the boulevard, tucked in the shadow of the hollywood hills. hot day, already hazy, i want to melt beneath the yellow sky.

i try to shut off the sounds when i pass the kiddie playground; a ton of kids crawling all over, racing and screaming. their sounds squeeze my heart with longing. i press my face against the fence, force myself to look, to focus on any one of them. alone in the sandbox, a little girl digging with a plastic spoon. she's wearing a white sundress and she's burying the feet of a naked doll and her entire being is involved in what she's doing. she must feel my stare, because she looks up — and straight through me.

my petticoats and black dress cling like layers of hot black tar. the brooch at my neck tightens in the heat. i feel weak, and the whole world seems to be getting darker. if i were a dog, i would fall down to the ground and just howl with the pain. but i'm not a dog and i'm not a crazy person.

i gaze out at the spotless lawn stretching from the playground to the little patch of trees at the end of the park. beyond that, black sticks against the sky — sixty acres of burnt wasteland, even after all these years.

i find the break in the fence and cut across the playground, full-out running across the chartreuse lawn, the world a blur, until i slip into the woods.

where is my brother? i can feel him grabbing my hand, pulling me into the next game....

moving deeper inside the woods, picking through the branch-strewn path, cursing the muddy patches, trying not to breathe the bitter scent of eucalyptus.

— a splash —

and my heart jumps —

keep moving —

past the murky pond —

sit on a rock in the gray and green woods, bracing myself for the emptiness. i press my fingertips against the trunk of the tree where i made memphis believe in the elephant. we would always hug the tree and then leave a stone at the base, to help release the little spirit that was trapped inside. there are hundreds of stones in the pile, never moved in all these years.

the ground is littered with chunks of charred wood. this little corner of the park was completely untouched by the fire — but the embers traveled. i grab a piece and use it like charcoal to scribble on a rock — where r u?

i won't cry in this place where memphis and i would catch spiders and dad would carry me on his shoulders to pick the highest leaves when they turned the color of lemons in the strange autumns of this city.

i lean my head against the tree. a whole card deck of memories falls into my face: shopping for school supplies with mom, her nervous face when she waved good-bye from the window, the way i used to run home from school full of things to tell her — ancient, ancient scenes, little-kid scenes, all the way before memphis was born.

an ache at the back of my throat, just because this is the first time mom isn't home when i start school. she's in japan; when the phone rang around 1 a.m., i ran to get it — it had to be her — but it stopped ringing before i reached it. just as well — she's waiting for an answer i'm not ready to give.

there's a cool peppery smell in the air, in the shadows by the pond, so rich i can almost taste it; tiny gold bugs disappear like drops of mercury in the black moss at my knees. each beautiful thing hurts.

so hot. black sweat down my back, don't melt my dress.

i won't cry. like an idiot baby.

maybe mom's moving on, but i'm not ready to.

i feel the warmth rising, the ghosts of the forest steaming the air. it's been three years since memphis disappeared. tomorrow — september 2nd — it will be exactly the day.

i know he'll come back to me — i feel positive it's going to happen tomorrow. we'll be together again — right here in these woods.

it's time to head out, but i'm not going home, because how can i tell you any of this?

copyright © 2008 by dakota lane

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2009


    Amazing read. it was tragic and thrilling. i cried and thought and cried again. And i finished it in one day, you wont be able to put it down. the complexity of her writing style may be difficult for some people, i found myself rereading passages to clarify. the characters are so similar i couldnt unwind the plot. it is an amazing page turner.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for

    Chelsea lives in Los Angeles with her mother. Miya lives in Tokyo in a children's home. Chelsea's precious brother disappeared three years ago. Miya lives to protect her brother. They both have an obsession with the same romantic manga. Both girls are interested in Gothic Lolita. The girls have never met or talked, but the two are connected in more ways than they realize. <BR/><BR/>Finding each other through a girl blogger site years before, each girl posted about their life and happenings. Each girl found an avid reader in the other. But they never left comments or talked. Now, three years later, Chelsea has stopped blogging completely and is feeling lost and alone without her brother. Miya lives in fear that someone will take her brother away and starts to plan their escape. <BR/><BR/>Now is the time when the girls need each other the most. Will they break down the barriers, open themselves up to who they really are, and help each other? <BR/><BR/>This is a fascinating tale of friendship and love. Told in alternating voices in short quick chapters, this tale reads like poetry. The story is accompanied by black and white photographs taken by the author that added a sense of mystery and beauty to the story. <BR/><BR/>I loved how the author unveiled more and more about each girl and the reader is able to uncover just how their lives are connected. It felt like I was slowly unwrapping a delicious candy bar but I could only have it piece by piece. This is a book to be savored.

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    Posted March 20, 2009

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