Saturday, February 9, 2013

ARC Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (February 12, 2013)

Description: Vanessa Adler isn't so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It's been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family's gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister's destiny. She has no choice. But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn't just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school's dancers-prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline-become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.

My Thoughts: I chose this book because I thought the premise sounded interesting. Combining dancing with mystery could have been really good. I did think the dancing scenes were very well-done. I felt as though I was taking part in them. 

However, most of the rest of the book didn't work as well for me. I felt that the characters were one-dimensional and inconsistent. Vanessa is the main character. She is a superb dancer who is accepted at the New York School of Ballet. However, her heart isn't in dancing. She wants to go the school because her older sister Margaret had been a student at the school and disappeared from there three years earlier. 

Almost as soon as she arrives she falls into insta-love with perhaps the most badly name character in young adult fiction—Zeppelin Black. My immediate image upon hearing his name was the Michelin Man. I have a hard time seeing the Michelin Man as a romantic hero.

She is also cast in the school's annual performance as the lead ballerina in The Firebird. Zep is cast as the male lead. The two are constantly practicing for the ballet and especially for a special number that was seldom performed in the ballet because of its difficulty. The are being directed by Josef who is a mysterious figure with a shady past. Despite her great love, she almost never sees Zep outside of practice and knows almost nothing about him yet her love remains strong. 

As is the usual case in young adult books these days, this one has a "love" triangle. The third side of this triangle is Justin who has just re-entered the school after being away for three years. He is constantly warning Vanessa against Zep and stalking her. They hold a number of cryptic conversations that are as confusing for the reader as they are for Vanessa.

Things get more mysterious when one of Vanessa's friends disappears and no one appears concerned. As Vanessa and her other friends try to locate Elly they learn that there have been a number of other disappearances besides Margaret. Over the past 20 years many ballerinas cast in the lead of The Firebird have disappeared. For some reason, no authorities seem to have been notified and no investigation has taken place. Now Vanessa has been cast in the lead...

The story throws together mysterious disappearances, mysterious teachers, romance and demons into a mismash that needed better editing, better writing, and a more coherent plot. I really can't recommend this book for any specific sort of readers but fans of dance might appreciate those sections.

Favorite Quote:
He was like no one Vanessa had ever seen. He was too tall to be a dancer, too rough, yet he moved with grace, his black hair lustrous beneath the warm lights. 

Zeppelin, she thought, her eyes traveling up the contours of his arms, when suddenly their eyes met.

His gaze was startling, unnerving, and as he lifted his head his face seemed to change, his sharp edges melting. His sunburn gave off a brassy glow, making him look like a chiseled sculpture. Vanessa felt like she could stare at him for hours and still not see what lay beneath the surface. She faltered, her lips trembling, but she couldn't look away.

And then, without warning, he smiled.
I received this eARC from Bloomsbury via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

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