Thursday, 6 March 2014
Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Blurb: As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she's moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen. But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesn't mind, until a chance encounter brings Jacob into her life. He's cute, he plays guitar and he's offering a whole future that Hannah never considered. And now she must choose between her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life.
What I thought: Books and ballet are two of the things I love most, so I was expecting a lot from this book. Probably a mistake, but either way I was disappointed. Especially near the beginning, the writing just felt wooden and underdeveloped. The characters weren't very interesting- I felt like Sophie Flack had just tagged a list of characteristics under a name, and left it at that. The dialogue was incredibly flat, especially between Hannah and Jacob. It didn't feel real. You couldn't tell why they liked each other so much, why he didn't just ditch her, why she was friends with Zoe. The whole book felt very imagined, which obviously it was, but I just felt that it would never have been like that in real life. Parts of the book felt really disjointed- the end was completely different from the beginning, and the change didn't really work. You couldn't see how she got there, which I thought could definitely have been improved upon.
I've been dancing since I was about four, so another thing that really annoyed me was the very basic explanation of ballet steps and techniques and stuff. This probably wouldn't be a problem for someone who doesn't know anything about dancing, but it felt kind of patronising to me.
Also, Sophie Flack seemed to use the book as a platform to spread her opinions about rude dancers, or people who think all male dancers are gay, or the word ballerina. This kind of irritated me, because it wasn't really supposed to be about that.
However, the book did have a few redeeming points. My favourite aspect, probably the main reason why I kept reading, and something that made me incredibly jealous throughout the entire book, was the ballet. I am always going to wish that I had gone to ballet school, and I am absolutely obsessed with dance, so this was always going to be a good point for me. Sophie Flack was a dancer once, so she's got it all down perfectly. She may not be the best writer, but she does know ballet, and that brings a lot to the book.
Basically, the plot boils down to whether she'll choose ballet or normal life. And despite all my issues with the book, I did get pretty invested in her choice. I'm always incredibly jealous of anyone who can dance, and I was really worried about her making her choice for the wrong reason. I am trying so hard not to put any spoilers in here. Ugh.
Conclusion: This book was disappointing- bland characters, flat dialogue, and not very good writing. However, Sophie Flack captures the world of ballet so well that it made me want to keep reading.