Publisher: Bloomsbury Children
Release Date: February 14th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult-Paranormal
Source: I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads: 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 .
What the heck did I just read? No really. What was that? It started out great, then the pacing went awry, the writing got terrible, and I started rolling my eyes. A lot. I read books with stupid characters all the time. I read books with ridiculous metaphors and amateurish writing. But I haven’t read anything this bad in a long time. It’s weird because this book didn’t start out all this bad for me. But, like a snowball rolling downhill, it gained speed, and eventually bowled me over with its shittiness.
Dance of Shadows had an interesting premise and one I was really looking forward to reading. Unfortunately the awesome premise was all it had, because the execution completely failed. And the main reason for the utter failure was the poor writing. I included some examples of that in my status updates on Goodreads, but I will repost those in my review for my blog readers:
“Vanessa turned, only to find her lips inches from Justin’s, so close that she breathed the scent of his skin, which smelled fresh, like the sun rising over the ocean.”
I just found this to be really poor writing and a completely uninspired simile. We had a pretty funny discussion in my status update for this one over what exactly the sun rising over the ocean would smell like, because, uh, that doesn’t normally have a scent.
“Their bodies fit together like two halves of a pair, and she fell into him, the taste of sweat lingering on her tongue as she let him envelop her in a warm and salty kiss.”
“She closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of his sweat.”
And that was another weird thing. This author had a strange obsession with sweat and salt. Because I edit, certain words stand out to me if they are overused. I don’t think I could have counted the number of times she used the words ‘sweat’ and ‘salt’ if I wanted to. The other thing I must mention? Sweat is not sexy. Sweaty men are not sexy. Tasting someone’s sweat when you kiss them? Vomit-worthy. WHAT THE HELL? I’m about to puke right now just thinking about that!
The writing continued to get worse, and it never got better. There were times when I was able to look past it for the sake of the story, but then I would become disgusted by an action of a character–usually Vanessa. The author forgot to write her a brain! It is impossible for a reader to root for a stupid character who doesn’t think things through. Vanessa trusted the wrong people when the facts were staring her right in the face. It was utterly STUPID. And quite unbelievable if I may be honest. No one in real life (that I know) is THIS stupid. So suspending disbelief was a little tough for me.
Not only were the characters stupid, but every single one of the side characters was undeveloped and just a name with a face. Steffie, Zep, Justin, Blaine, Josef, Hilda, and that other girl whose name I cannot remember–all flat with no personality, no background, and I didn’t care. There was a point in the book when one of the girls disappeared and I was highly amused because I did not even care. That’s not a good sign.
The book pretty much lacked any imagery or sensory language. There were hardly any descriptions and I could not picture the setting at all. The only reason I had any idea of what things looked like was it because it was set in New York City and we’ve all seen pictures and movies. If I hadn’t had that background, I would have been completely lost.
Dance of Shadows was a cross between
with the execution of
In the hands of a skilled writer the exciting premise could have been something great. But unfortunately it wasn’t. And I was not a fan of this author’s writing. And that is an understatement. It was horrible. I really wanted to like this book–oh how I did–but there was just no helping it. I love dance stories. They can be campy, classy, or whatever they want to be. But for me at the very least, decent writing and character development is a requirement. You won’t find that here. So far this is the worst book I have read in 2013.
Someone please give this author a lesson in writing tension and showing instead of telling. For the love of all that is holy.