Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Dance of Shadows

Hardcover447 pagesPublished: February 12th 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
**eARC provided by t
*he publisher for review*

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . 

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . 

Ok, let me start with the cover! I love it!
It's beautiful and simple and the smoke and  the red flower  dress makes such a nice contrast. I even like the little lines in the tittle, it all ads to the feeling of the book and I think it fits it really nicely.

Dance of Shadows has a little “The Black Swan” kind of feeling. While NYBA is the dream school of dancers, they have to survive daily routines, continuous practice and competing with everyone for a part. Say, it’s a bit stressing. And it can take it’s toll on everyone.

Vanessa is one of the lucky girls who got in. She’s a legacy in ballet, her grandmother, her mother and sister went there. But Her older sister, Margaret disappeared one day and no one has seen her or heard of her since then.
So Vanessa has one goal when she moves to NY City, to find her sister. But when she gets there, things get weird and maybe Vanessa will end up just like her sister, lost to the stress and pressure and somewhere in the City.

Let me tell you that the beginning really catches you, is not really the beginning of the book, is the prologue, but it has a dark setting, a mystery and it calls you. Or maybe I just love that kind of things so i was hooked when I saw this line:

“Welcome to the real New York Ballet Academy,” he continued. “As you’ll soon discover, the dirty work gets done after hours. Starting tonight”
-Dance of Shadows, Yelena Black

So I was sold with that.
Dance of Shadows is dark and intriguing. And Yelena Black does a good job keeping both elements through all the book.
It has a little cult feeling though, the seniors make the freshman cut themselves and mark the floor with blood... which is really bad when you’re a dancer... I mean you need your feet! But the scene was really good. .

Vanessa was raised to be a ballerina, until her sister disappeared and her mother thought maybe it wasn’t the best idea. But that really confused me, at times she talked about Ballet as if it was everything, like she was really into it, she practised hard every day, she wanted to be cast as the lead role and liked being the best of her class. Yet at some points she seemed like she didn’t care at all for dancing, or at least she thought she didn’t and kept repeating that being a ballerina was her sister’s dream.
Honestly she didn’t leave a big impression on me, she seemed very insecure. I prefer more strong characters.

Zep didn’t do it for me. I just couldn’t care a lot about him. Or get why Vanessa was so obsessed with him since the first time she saw him. Because it takes like a month for them to talk... when when they do, he just ask her out! A polite “hello” here and there would have been nice... but he had a girlfriend who was around him all the time so he couldn’t... yeah I don’t see what’s so great about him, sorry.

Justin (I think they changed the name to Josh later in the final version, so I’m not sure) on the other hand, I liked better. She sees him as cocky and mysterious. I thinks he’s just confident... about the mysterious part, yeah in a way he keeps a secret from her but that’s it... about the rest he’s pretty open.

Her mom, OMG she’s crazy... Obsessed control freak mother of an athletic child... there’s probably a better term for it, but we ALL know that one mother... and That’s Vanessa’s. That was fun to read.

There’s a lot of secondary characters in it and at first is hard to keep in check who’s who, but I wish there was more to them... a background story or something more than what we’re told... maybe in the other books!

At times, I liked Steffie’s character better. She seemed the less superficial of her friends and supportive of Vanessa, usually not jealous of how great she was. I guess it was the most real character.
Blaine was also pretty good. He’s all flirty and loves to gossip but there’s a serious side of him that comes out when needed.

I did have a problem with the fact that for someone who was so determined to find her sister more than dancing, Vanessa does the exact opposite for a big part of the book.
Another thing that bother me a bit was the dialogue... it just seemed... too formal? That’s not the right word, but it didn’t sound that much natural for teenagers... I don’t know.

Overall, I’d say the book is like a roller coaster, not for the excitement but for the good and bad points. The plot idea is original, intriguing and very promising. But it could be better. Some things were easy to predict, some not. The peace felt a bit slow at times, there were parts I could do without, but it didn’t lost the supernatural creepy feel of the story. The characters had a lot of potencial that I hope Ms. Black explores more in the nexts books.

The end is a perfect setup for the next book and I’m looking forward to reading it.

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