Saturday, January 14, 2012

The First DNF of 2012

Various Positions
Written by: Martha Schabas
Released: February 14, 2012 by Farrar Straus Giroux (First published June 28, 2011 by Doubleday Canada)
Summary: Nuanced, fresh, and gorgeously well-written, Martha Schabas' extraordinary debut novel takes us inside the beauty and brutality of professional ballet, and the young women striving to make it in that world.
Shy and introverted, and trapped between the hyper-sexualized world of her teenaged friends and her dysfunctional family, Georgia is only at ease when she's dancing. Fortunately, she's an unusually talented and promising dancer. When she is accepted into the notoriously exclusive Royal Ballet Academy--Canada's preeminent dance school--Georgia thinks she has made the perfect escape. In ballet, she finds the exhilarating control and power she lacks elsewhere in her life: physical, emotional and, increasingly, sexual.
This dynamic is nowhere more obvious than in Georgia's relationship with Artistic Director Roderick Allen. As Roderick singles her out as a star and subjects her to increasingly vicious training, Georgia obsesses about becoming his perfect student, disciplined and sexless. But a disturbing incident with a stranger on the subway, coupled with her dawning recognition of the truth of her parents' unhappy marriage, causes her to radically reassess her ideas about physical boundaries--a reassessment that threatens both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.
After reading just over 100 pages I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't care for the characters and the plot just dragged. I tried, really I did, but I just couldn’t do it. With every new chapter I thought ‘this will be the one where the plot picks up’ but, alas, that was never the case. Finally I just had enough and stopped reading. I have so many other books on my TBR that I actually will enjoy – I’m not going to waste a few hours with something that I’m not connecting to.
The sad part is, though, is that the opening was amazing and was what made me want to read this novel from the moment I opened the document on my e-reader. I just wish that the rest of the novel had been as intriguing and attention grabbing. It’s like there was this amazing hook... but no worm.
I wish that I could have connected to the main character but there was nothing there to grab onto. I think that the problem was that she was a huge drip. I get that she’s only fourteen and that, yes, kids do the things at that age which are depicted in what I read (yes, there were girls in grade nine who were sexually active when I was in high school) but she was such a flat character. The girl didn’t have friends! Sure, once she got into ballet school she had the girls from there, but before that there was no mention of someone from public school and even after there was nothing. Hell, I skimmed the last 20 pages or so just to see how it ends and nothing arose then either. The main character is just so... blah, for lack of better wording and she never seemed to try. I think that was what really turned me off reading this; since I couldn’t connect to a disconnected character, I couldn’t get into the story, and so what was the point of reading it at all?
Another thing that bothered me about this novel was that the focus seemed to be more on the main characters (see, she didn’t even make enough of an impression for me to remember her first name and I was just reading less than 10 minutes ago) parents and their messed up relationship. Her father was always “working” (I didn’t get far enough to see if my hypothesis on this one was right) and her mother seemed to be suffering from a severe form of depression or was bipolar. They had this huge disconnect and were always either screaming or sucking face.
I was hoping that this would be a great ballet book like Sophie Flack’s Bunheads, but I was sadly disappointed, especially since it’s a Canadian novel. In the end, I've had many other books along the same genre line that I enjoyed much more and this one just didn't cut it. There just wasn’t a heart or soul in this novel and it showed through the pages. I wish that this wasn’t the case, but the work speaks for itself. I'm giving this novel a 2/10.
On a side note, isn't the cover gorgeous? I love the simplicity and the black against the white.

I received this eARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

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