Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dohnielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dohnielle Clayton
Release Date - May 26, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
A spotlight is shined on the darker side of ballet in this story of dancers who will do anything necessary to climb their way to the top. Heavy on drama, and jealousy, it is the literary equivalent of a CW television show. Ballet has never been so dangerous, or so bewitching.

Novels written by co-authors tend to go one of two ways. The writing either meshes seamlessly together and feels as cohesive as if one person wrote all of the novel or it's overly obvious that multiple writers worked together. This novel is the former. It feels like one author's voice and writing style. The writing styles blend together. This narration lends itself to co-writers as the different narrators have such powerful personalities that read very differently from one another. The end result is a tight woven narration that works for this particular novel.

Perfection. Paranoia. Hunger. Each of these becomes a suffocating, oppressing force that haunts the dancers. The strive for perfection and how impossible it is to achieve is present on every page. The lengths the girls will go to in order to achieve it, and the desperation that leads them to do commit unspeakable acts. All of them are hungry, both metaphorically and literally. The stress to achieve the perfect ballerina body, while staying within weight, and the constant drive to be better is a consuming thing. With this, each of these girls are touched in some way by paranoia. It's easy to see the Black Swan comparisons as the pressure cracks each of these girls in some way. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are broken, and they become their own worst enemies in a sense, as well as being enemies to each other. This school is built on competition as as a result the friendships built are 'frenemies' at best. It doesn't create a warm, nurturing environment and these characters are a product of that.

The narration is cut into three different characters. Bette, the legacy who everyone thinks is guaranteed to land the lead roles. Gigi, the newcomer who loves dancing more than anything. June, the girl who will do anything to prove to her mother that she was born to dance. These girls all have distinct personalities and voices. The cast of characters is large and it does take a bit to get everyone straight, but one you fall into the story, it becomes easier to differentiate between everyone. There is a diverse cast in many ways, and the issues of racism within the ballet world are adeptly handled through characterization. While the focus is on plot over character development, the characters themselves are intriguing. Each of them has flaws that make lending sympathy easier, even as they do horrible things in the name of advancing in the ranks.

There is plenty of romance in this novel. As sensual as ballet itself with plenty of sexy scenes filled with touches and looks. As much as I wanted to like this element of the story, it was the one aspect that was lacking. The romances mostly felt rushed, and too intense immediately. It could have benefited from some more 'one on one' practice/rehearsal scenes to allow the connection to be built. The male dancers are as ruthless and cut throat as the female ones, and that doesn't lend itself to rooting for the romances. Blackmail, cheating, and  hidden agendas are the name of the game in these 'relationships' and while it creates some great drama, those looking for more of a romantic storyline may be disappointed.

A tense, addictive read that will appeal to fans of Sarah Shepherd. These prima ballerinas mean girl with the best of them, and it's darkly delicious. It's a read that will leave you breathlessly turning the pages, and wishing you had the sequel to continue this tale of betrayal, paranoia, and what happens when the pressure to be the best reaches a boiling point. 

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