Review – Dance of Shadows
  • Posted:
  • February 28, 2013
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Dance of Shadows is a relatively new Young Adult book by Yelena Black. It’s been up and down in reviews since ARCs began circulating last year. I finally got around to cracking mine today and it’s officially a did-not-finish for me. This book did nothing for me. It’s awful.

Vanessa is 15 and a new student at a prestigious ballet school in New York. She is there with a motive, to discover what happened to her sister, Margaret, who disappeared the year before. Vanessa quickly falls into a friendship with a few of the dancers but there is something dark happening at the school, and Vanessa suspects that her sister was a part of it.

There are a couple of things that are really apparent from this book from the beginning. The first is that it’s not a well written book. Black’s transitions from the end of a chapter to the beginning of the next are clunky and jerky. Her prose doesn’t flow very well in general. She says several really awkward things throughout the book. The second is that I had a sense that I’ve seen this story before. Comparisons to Black Swan are going to be inevitable for this book, especially considering the ballet content, but it’s more than that. Dance of Shadows exhibits every cliched trope that can be found in the Young Adult Paranormal genre to date – young impressionable girl out of her element, insta-friendship with a cast of misfits, insta-attraction/love with not one but two possible suitors, domineering adult figure, a mysterious set of circumstances, a hint of something supernatural… the list goes on and on. I found myself rolling my eyes so many times in the first hundred pages I’m surprised I didn’t give myself a headache. Cliches can be done very well, but not with the coupling of bad writing. It stacks one travesty upon another.

Another weird thing is this blurb that once existed on Goodreads for this book and no longer does:

“Curtains up on a deliciously dark new YA trilogy from the creators of Lauren Kate’s Fallen.”

Just a thought – What does “from the creators of Lauren Kate’s Fallen” even mean? Does that mean that THIS is written by Lauren Kate under a pseudonym OR that the Fallen series was a conglomerate corporate book series written by a bunch of writers like the newer LJ Smith Vampire Diaries? If that is the case maybe that explains why the Fallen books were never something I got into, and perhaps explains the poor writing in this book. I suspect that this book was dreamed up by a marketing team who hired Yelena Black to write this book. I know that this happens more than we suspect, particularly with the explosion of books in the Young Adult market in the last five years. However, that doesn’t make it right, particularly when the output is so terrible. It could very well explain the numerous cliches in the book. If you have a brainstorming meeting between a number of minds it could end in, well… this. And no amount of good writing can save a dodgy idea.

To put it mildly this is not a good enough book to keep my attention, and because of that I had to give it a rest. I can’t afford the time it would take to trudge through something this bad. There are many good books out there and this, frankly, is not one of them.

1 out of 5 stars.

– BP

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