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?
Shiny Broken Pieces by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra – Book Review
To start this review, I would like to take back my claim of Tiny Pretty Things being the most dramatic YA novel I’ve ever read because the sequel is even more insane!
From the moment you start reading Shiny Broken Pieces, you can totally feel that it’s going to be darker than Tiny Pretty Things. I wasn’t very sure what to feel and expect because there are a lot of changes in these girls. Also, there are many different issues being discussed here – racism, drug abuse, suicide, eating disorders, bullying, and coming out.
By the way, this review contains spoiler
“This is my year. This is my turn. I’ll be the lead soloist. I’ll be chosen for the company. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
The book picked up right after what happened in TPT. Bette was no longer in the conservatory, Gigi became very different after what happened to her in the first book, June toughens up after her discovery in the first book, and Cassie was back. Just from reading the line, you can tell that things were about to be very interesting.
Insanely Good Character Development
Throughout the book, you are served with crazy character development. The authors definitely took the risk of making the lovable characters to someone more flawed – borderline unlikable while at the same time making the characters who were disliked in the first book more likable.
“Better, faster, stronger, payback”
This was an interesting development to see in YA book because I don’t think I’ve ever seen character development in YA book done this way. If you know any book that does, please tell me. Majority of characters in fiction are often showed in a very one-dimensional manner; black and white – protagonist and antagonist. Whereas in this book, we get to see all sides of the characters – the good and the bad. It just shows that people make mistakes and they also change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.
“I’ve become Bette. I’ve become the person I hate. And that’s the thing that shifts it all, the thing that snaps it into place.”
The most obvious change is definitely Gigi. I know her behaviour can be justified by looking at what happened to her in the first book. She was understandably angry and that anger drove her to do all the cruel things. In order to show that she was no longer the doormat she was before, she lost herself somewhere along the way.
“I have to find a way back.”
I couldn’t help but to feel bad for Bette. She definitely softens – although she still has that edge that made her Bette. I think being suspended from the conservatory gave her a chance to really think about what she wants and helped her realise that she REALLY wanted to be a ballerina. She was obsessed with finding out who pushed Gigi at the end of the first book – to prove that she was innocent. She was also looking for redemption. I love seeing her relationship with Eleanor grew and developed – for the better. Another development I like is how Bette realised that she had what it takes to be a ballerina and that she didn’t have to hurt other to get what she wanted. It’s a pity that she had to go through the whole ordeal to realise that but I guess better late than never, right?
“My mom was a dancer. My nonfather was a dancer. I am meant to be one. I just have to prove it, again. To all of them. To myself.
June is probably the least dramatic in the book. Her issues are the most realistic compared to the other girls. It was school vs dance. Did she want to continue dancing or did she want to leave dance behind and go to school with Jayhe? June definitely changed for the better in this book. She decided to really take care of herself – both physically and mentally. She also mended her relationship with Seijin and put whatever animosity they have to rest.
“I was so naive when I first got here. I didn’t realize how much people would do just to dance”
I mentioned in my previous review that Cassie is a character that I was drawn into. She was this sweet, hardworking character when she begins the story in Tiny Pretty Things. This time she is back in the conservatory and BAM! She’s nothing like the Cassie I read about in the first book. She is blunt and ruthless. I think without her realising, she actually turned into the old Bette. Although she was really nice to Gigi, it was hard to tell if she was being a genuine friend or if she saw Gigi as someone she could use for revenge.
Eleanor is another character that I really like. I’ve always liked her in Tiny Pretty Things and I liked her even more in this book. She became an important character in Shiny Broken Pieces, and things changed for her including her friendship with Bette. She stood up for herself, made her own choices – some bad, some even worse – but she learned from it and that was good to see.
Romance Takes A Backset in This Book
The romance in this book really takes a backseat. Alec was still with Gigi although I was wondering the whole time how did Alec not see the changes in Gigi? I mentioned before that Alec is a genuinely kind person and it’s proven in this book. He chose to see the good in everyone rather than their bad side. He remains my favourite character in the book.
Henri and Cassie’s relationship is actually the one I wanted to read more about. Henri is the character I can’t figure out – even until now.
SPOILER ALERT. We now know that Will was the one who pushed Gigi and it was because Henri persuaded him – by seducing him basically – to do it so Cassie can come back to the conservatory.
This is what confused me. The biggest question remains what his actual motive is? Did Henri really care about Cassie that he did everything he did? Because it was clear at the end of the book that Cassie had no idea whatsoever that her boyfriend has been going around flirting with everyone who can be useful in his conquest.
Also, these two are not the kindest characters in the book, but there is something endearing about their relationship. Like they really care about each other. Maybe they are one of those couples that are horrible to other people and only nice and caring to each other? I guess we’ll never find out.
Is This Really The End?
THAT ENDING WAS TOO OPEN FOR ME. It felt incomplete to me – the story has not finished yet. Reading these two books was one hell of a ride but with that ending? I would gladly go on another crazy rollercoaster of drama and insanity. The last scene promises interesting storyline – if the authors decide to continue the story – because it seems that things will get interesting. I want front row seat when it happens!
Like Tiny Pretty Things, Shiny Broken Pieces isn’t the easiest book to read. I have to say that I’m glad I decided to continue reading it because honestly, I almost gave up. It’s crazy but it’s also fun to see the changes in the girls – be it for better or worse. Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra definitely have a knack for exploring the best and worst sides of these characters; showing us how far can a person go when they are being pushed to the limit. The characters, including the secondary characters, have depth with them. All the characters are written with intention and provide something to the story. That, I think, is what makes the books brilliant and addicting. Highly, highly recommended!