Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

* * * * 1/2

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.

Suspenseful and disconcerting. That’s how I sum up Tiny Pretty Things. Underneath the alluring cover and innocent title, is a sinister story about ambitious people who want to get ahead regardless of the price. In the process, they each lose a little bit of their soul.

Each character has a unique identity. Gigi is the vibrant, happy-go-lucky girl who revels in the pure joy of dancing. Bette, is the diva of the school who has everyone under her thumb. Her older sister's success pushes her to elevate her game which would be resorting to pranks, intimidation and manipulation. Gigi’s innocence and popularity are threats to her success. Then there’s June, whose stand-offish nature is her weapon. June doesn’t have friends. She has competition. She has a surgical approach in how she analyzes everyone to target their strengths and weaknesses. At times Gigi’s charismatic personality almost breaks down her iciness but June is exceptional at compartmentalizing. Despite their differences,  all three want the same thing: to be the lead in the next production.

These young people undergo intense auditions and grueling rehearsals. It's a sensational environment where things can often get fierce. As the story progresses, the characters become more distraught and desperate. The things they do to each other and to their bodies are horrifying. They make you wonder at what point they lost their moral compass to blur the line between right and wrong. I mean, do they still love the art of ballet, or performing or are they so deeply entrenched in its dark underbelly that they don't know anything else? I know I became more distressed with each chapter as “mishaps” and foul play became more serious. Gigi, who is the only genuine person there, appears to be the innocent lamb nestled deep in the lion’s den.

The feeling I had as I read Tiny Pretty Things was the same jittery feeling I had when watching the tv show Revenge - always on edge because you never know what the next surprise will be. I both cared about and despised these characters for all their heartache and their flaws. There are reasons why Bette and June are as vile as they are but even those don't erase the the truth that these girls are treacherous when it comes to achieving their dreams. At times they’re something to be feared and at others, they’re close to crumbling.

Charaipotra and Clayton have written an enthralling story about bloodthirsty ambition featuring dynamic and diverse characters from different backgrounds, even breaking some stereotypes.  The fact that these characters sway back and forth between being decent and wretched, leaves you guessing as to how things will turn out by the end. 

~ Bel

No comments:

Post a Comment