Wednesday, July 27, 2016

shiny broken pieces: stardust reviews

Shiny Broken Pieces (Tiny Pretty Things #2)

Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton



June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

 I really really enjoy this series! I think that Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton have done a wonderful job with both of these books, making them super dramatic and really tightly written, with characters that are at once horrible and sympathetic. I think these books are so underrated, and if you're interested in ballet, in drama, in driven female characters, I think you could really enjoy these books. You can find my review for the first novel in this series here. As for how this second installment stacks up against the first one, I think it does an amazing job. It builds on the drama of the first book and takes the story to even more twisted places, which really worked. It just felt like all of the tension from the first novel was transferred over to this one, and then it was ratcheted up until everything came to a head in the last half of this book. I don't think I could pick a favorite between the two, they're definitely both engaging reads that will hold you rapt until the last page.

Just as a little recap, here's everything that we know going into this second book. Our main characters are Bette, June, and Gigi, three diverse and talented ballerinas at the American Ballet Conservatory in New York City. All three of them dream of becoming a prima ballerina, but the ballet world is small, and there is not room for all three of them to achieve this goal. Bette is a legacy, from a rich Manhattan family. She works hard to live up to the expectations set for her, but time at the top and in the spotlight has made her cruel and used to getting what she wants. When Gigi, the new girl from California, takes the ABC by storm, Bette doesn't know how to deal with this feeling and resorts to drugs and pranks to get back on top. Gigi is "the nice one," the one who loves dance more than anything, but the increasing danger of the pranks played on her, culminating in her getting pushed in front of a taxi, has made her wary, even paranoid, and feeling like she can't trust anyone. And June is half Korean, struggling with an eating disorder and low self-esteem, wanting more than anything to get the time in the spotlight that she feels she deserves. At the end of the first book, Gigi is in the hospital from her run in with the taxi, Bette is suspended and being sued because people swear they saw her push Gigi, and June is dancing the principle role in the school ballet, just as she has always dreamed. But when the girls come back after a summer away from school, nothing is as it used to be, and everything, from dance to their personal lives, has higher stakes than ever.

I think what really took the drama of the first book and made it even bigger in the second one was the addition of a new character, one that we had heard of in passing in the first book, but never actually got to meet. Cassie, the girl that Better tormented before Gigi, the girl that spent a year rehabbing after an accident that Bette caused, is the catalyst for most of the big moments in this book. I liked that aspect, because it made it feel different from the first one. I think that if it had been more of the same, with Bette and June pulling pranks, this book would not have been as good as it ended up being. Because of Cassie, everything is shook up. I loved the parallel of Gigi and Cassie, and it was scary how Gigi ended up becoming sort of a different person for a while. In the end, though, Gigi is an unfailingly better person than Cassie, even if she doesn't regain her former spark and kindness, she at least isn't responsible for near death experiences, like Cassie ends up being. I just thought the addition of Cassie was a great way to inject some more life and some more drama into the already crazy story.

Like I said, the plot of this one was fabulous, even more dramatic than the plot of the last one, but for different reasons. I felt like every single event in this novel was like teetering on a knife's edge, just a slight push and everything would fall over the side. From Gigi's accident to Bette's determination to clear her name to Cassie's recklessness and pranks, it was all so crazy that I could barely put the book down. I liked that everything was slightly elevated, but not once did it get so insane that I stopped believing it. In knowing truly manipulative people, I did not for one second think that any of this was unrealistic. I felt like it could truly happen, especially in a world as competitive and reliant on looks as ballet. So I truly applaud the plot choices that these authors made, they paid off in a big way for me!

As for our characters, our main three, I ended up loving all of them. I think some people might call them unlikable, but I think they, and all girls in fact, deserve the right to be unlikable at some times. That doesn't make them any less of a girl, and it shouldn't make the reader want to stop reading. I thought that the things that make these girls "unlikable," their drive, their determination, their strength, their willingness to push the envelope, perhaps past what is acceptable, is what makes them so fascinating to me. I loved how they grew in this book. Bette goes from someone who takes it for granted that she will get what she wants to someone who knows what it is to be defeated, and to come back stronger for it. She realizes the importance of allies, from family to friends, and she definitely realizes the gravity of her past actions. I would say that she truly turns a corner, though she doesn't lose the cutthroat competitiveness that makes her who she is. June goes from being sick, truly sick, in mind and body, to being strong, in a way that she can be proud of. She realizes that she can be loved, and she comes to know, for certain, that dance is an integral part of who she is, even if she doesn't necessarily get the high level parts that she so desires. I think June's changes in this novel were the most profound for me, she just gets a little softer in some really good ways. And Gigi, unlike June, hardens in some ways, which I honestly think was necessary for her to survive in the world of ballet. Gigi goes through a time when all she focuses on is dance and revenge, revenge for the people who made her life hell. Though it makes her feel good for a while, she soon realizes that it isn't the person who she wants to be. She then reclaims her love of dancing and begins, a little, to put her trust in people again, and this is when she truly succeeds. All these of these girls go through truly hard times, but through it all, they become stronger and realize how important dance is to them, which I thought was really gratifying to read.

I JUST LOVE THIS SERIES OKAY? Ballet fascinates me, and if it fascinates you too, I think this is an awesome read.


1 comment:

  1. Definitely sounds good ~ Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by my blog.



80% Read the Printed Word!