By: Nikki Katz
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): When the music stops, the dance begins.
Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.
But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.
A dance book! Woohoo! Dance books tend to go immediately to the top of my TBR list. Add to the fact that it counts toward the Debut Author Challenge that I’ve been failing with this year, and it jumped even higher.
What I thought
This book was super weird.
Set in France in the late 1800s, Penny lives in an estate for ballerinas. All the girls do is dance and learn about topics that are helpful for talking to Lord-like people at events. The whole estate is run by Master and all of the girls are meant to follow everything he says and wants. Penny starts to realize that things aren’t right and she finds out that nothing is what it seems.
This book is sort of a cross between dystopian and science fiction and, like I said, was just a bit too weird for me. There was a lot of science fiction stuff that didn’t feel fully thought out to me and left me confused and with a lot of questions.
Unfortunately, because I was questioning a lot of what was going on, I couldn’t get into the story. I liked the relationship between Cricket and Penny, but everything else was half-developed. It seemed like every time there was a problem, a solution was created instead of being formed from parts of the story that was already there.
I also spent the final half of the book worried that things weren’t getting wrapped up ad that the book was going to end on a cliffhanger and result in a series. I don’t quite understand why all YA books that aren’t contemporary HAVE to be at least two books, so I was going to be very annoyed if that was the case. While the ending was left a bit open in case of a sequel, it concluded enough to be a standalone. But as a result, the ending felt very rushed and thrown together.
I will say that as a dancer, I was impressed with the dance knowledge in this book. I wish there had been a bit more dance and not as much of this sciencey manipulation storyline. I picked up this book because I love dance stories, and it was a very minor part of the storyline. It setup a reason for the girls to be in the estate but that was about it.