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.
Do not, under any impression, make the mistake of thinking this will be a happy, cheesy, flower-fest of dancing ballerinas. Because it’s anything but. Yes, with bold to emphasise how much I advise you not to underestimate the violence and darkness of this book. But we’ll get to that later.
The first thing that struck me about the writing was the lyrical tone and the almost poetic-like metaphors. Here’s one:
Your toes jam into a pretty pink box, battering your feet with constellations of blisters and bruises.
I think that’s the second sentence of the book or something, by the way. Here’s another, later on in the book:
I fixate on every word coming out of Mr. K’s mouth, like I could catch each one in a mason jar.
So there’s one out of many aspects of the book that I liked. I think that metaphorical and elegant use of metaphors really complimented the theme of the book, especially when it was used to describe the dance and the ballet.
This book had every deep and dark theme that any other book has dealt with, all mashed together with the theme of dancing. And when I say every deep and dark theme, I do mean every. I mean, here’s a list.
- Dark Jealousy
- Pressure from parents
- Heart Disease
- Accidents on the road
- Bullying (like, full-on major bullying to the point where a girl is sent a mental rehabilitation centre.)
I think that’s basically every major theme of the book. Let’s go through them.
“Secrets” is the major theme of the book, and all throughout the whole close to 500 pages of this book (yes, it’s quite long!), there’s an impeding sense of doom that never leads you until about 10 pages to the end. There’s this presence that looms above the reader, and it just screams “ALL THESE SECRETS WILL BE REVEALED”, OVER AN
D OVER AGAIN. And true to it’s word, basically every secret is spilled at the most awkward parts of the book, when there are the most people, and the characters have the most to lose. AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT THE CHARACTERS. LITERALLY, ALL YOU CAN DO IS SIT THERE AND WATCH IT UNFOLD BEFORE YOUR EYES TO YOUR HORROR AS YOU WATCH YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTERS DESTROY THEMSELVES. Enough said. It’s frustrating and i
will tear your heart apart as you sit there helplessly. Almost like a bomb just waiting to explode, every secret is a switch taking the book closer and closer to D-TIME.
I try not to think about it. I don’t want anyone to know. Ever.
Doesn’t that just scream “SOON, EVERYONE WILL KNOW. EVERYONE.”?!?!
Secrets are made to be revealed, and of course, when they’re revealed, they have to be revealed to the most evil person. Who will milk this secret like the news milks a plane crash. At some times, it almost comes close to rape, when a girl will use her body to the best of her abilities to stop a boy from spilling a secret. Told you it was dark.
It seems that every single character in this book, from Gigi to Bette to June, has some kind of crippling secret, disease or weakness. Anorexia is a major flaw of one character (I won’t reveal who for fear of spoilers), and it is described absolutely beautifully:
Everything leaves me. Liquid, anger, food, pressure. Each time my stomach heaves, I feel more lift off me – little balloons of sorrow set to float away. Even if it’s just for a minute, I feel free. The tile under my knees cools my hot limbs and my head boys above the water.
I haven’t had butter in, literally, years. It’s rough going down, like I can feel the fat coating my insides.
All throughout the book, there are huge hints that are just dropped so casually:
The coin-filled pouch pushes between my legs like the maxi pads I don’t have to wear anymore, since I stopped getting my period.
I mean, isn’t this important information?? Not important enough to get its own sentence, rather than just simply be tacked onto the end of another sentence?
Another flaw: Drugs.
I’ll have to text my dealer for more after my mother gives me my weekly allowance.
I curl up with that memory and a white pill to try to erase it all.
And drugs isn’t even a major part of the book! It’s one of the lighter issues that feature in the book, mostly overshadowed by the backstabbing and violence in the book.
One of the issues I had with this book was the length of it. It was split into two sections: Act I and Act II, and I do feel like it could have just been shorted to the length of Act I. And, I mean, nothing was really resolved in the ending anyway!There were so many loose ends and unfinished threads. Thanks God there’s a second book.
Another issue I had with this book, was how predictable it could be at times. For example, the first major turning point was completely obvious. I predicted what would happen from the first sentence. This, obviously, detracted most surprise from the surprise ending. However, the turning point when on to set up the structure for the rest of this amazing book, and so I’ll forgive it. But, the plot twists were only predictable sometimes, I mean Oh My God, Chapter 44. It. Is. Absolutely. Amazing.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10
Tiny Pretty Things is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.
- Title: Tiny Pretty Things
- Author: Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (May 26, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062342398
- URL: Amazon, Goodreads