This book was received in exchange for an honest review. We were not compensated for our opinion of this title.
Published by Harper Teen on May 26th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
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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.
Objectively, Tiny Pretty Things was not a bad book. But I couldn’t get into the story.
Things I Liked About Tiny, Pretty Things
- The writing felt organic to the characters and setting. There were no odd placements of language or ballet terms that would have made it feel like the author was trying too hard. It read very naturally.
- It was easy to like or hate the characters (and sometimes both). Gigi was sweet and you could not dislike her, or her optimism. Sei Jin was a complete bitch, and the author wanted you to hate her. Bette…was an anamoly. She had her issues that stemmed from her family life, and she honestly sometimes wondered why she did the things she did. Yet she just felt compelled to be a nasty person. But I think she can be redeemed. I was unsure about Henri, Will, and June. And also Eleanor. She was on my suspicion radar for the entire story.
- The world-building was well done. This is a contemporary YA with notes of mystery and harassment. one could say it’s a story about “whodunit” or a story about teen bullying. I think it was really just a story about the world teens live in now, especially the teens who stand out, who are special, who have farther to fall. I spent most of the novel wondering who was responsible for Gigi’s harassment, and wanted redemption for her, especially at the end.
- It shows the struggle of eating disorders, and the emotional malfunction that can lead to them.
- It’s a diverse book! There are a myriad of characters: black, white, asian, russian, gay. And specifically, the characters often talk about and feel the effects of their skin color or sexual preference. I really liked that.
Things I Didn’t Like
- It took me 3 weeks to read Tiny, Pretty Things. If a book is good, I am compelled to read it quickly. But I never felt that way with this one; I just wanted to know what happened so I could say I had finished it.
- All of the girls, save one, are mean and spiteful. Is the ballet world really that cut-throat?
- The above only applies to the girls in the story. The boys were decidedly less emotional and eager to take others down. That was some major gender stereotyping there.
- It was supposed to be suspenseful; it wasn’t. They drag out the first cast list for multiple chapters at the start of the story. I sat there wondering exactly how compelling a reader would find dancers waiting for the cast list. It felt like an info-dump of their personalities: “Character one is optimistic and bouncy on her toes. Character two is staring daggers at everyone else. Character three surmises she won’t get the part because she’s Asian.” And so on. That part was decidedly NOT organic.
- It’s a triple-POV story. We get this story from Gigi, Bette and June. Dual POV is a struggle for me; add more in and I’m a mess. Do. Not. Like. Where are the warnings for these things?
- I thought it was a standalone. It isn’t. Or at least I don’t think it is. *researches* Okay, so no mention of a sequel. But it ends on a cliffhanger, sooooo…. either that’s a really terrible ending to a standalone, or a cliche lead-in to a second book.
In fact, the ending is largely the reason I am rating this book so low. I’m an ender, so if the ending is not done well, I’m probably going to feel like it was all for naught. If it is a first book in a series, then the ending felt rushed without any kind of resolution. Even in my favorite books that end this way, there are SOME questions answered. I’m not the kind of reader that follows the dangling carrot.
Overall, I do think a lot of YA fans will like this and find it suspenseful. It just wasn’t the greatest for me.