by Carol M Tanzman
November 15, 2011
Received from NetGalley
The videos went viral...
EVER FEEL LIKE SOMEONE’S WATCHING YOU?
BUT LATELY IT’S BEEN HAPPENING IN MY ROOM.
WHEN I’M ALONE.
A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I’m no longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl. And suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.
My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stalker isn’t content to just watch anymore.
Ali. dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.
Y'all, it's killing me not to capitalize the title up there, but I'm trying to resist!
I really enjoyed this book! While the synopsis focuses solely on the dancergirl online sensation, the plot transitions into a stalker story and how Ali reacts to suspected invasions of her privacy. And that is really well done. The tension in the writing is amazing. I read the entire book in one sitting because I really didn’t want to put it down.
As a main character, Ali’s a fairly normal teenage girl. She's dedicated to dance, working at her dance studio to earn free classes and dreaming of Julliard. She struggles with her classes but gets by with the help of her friends - especially the good-looking boy in the apartment below who’s suddenly started to pull away. I have to say that I really appreciate that the author made her main character a person of character (even if the apparent cover decided to erase that). YA books are so often so very, very white.
Dance is the most important part of Ali’s life which makes the entire situation that much more horrifying. As a sort of joke and sort of a way to help out but mostly just a chance to dance, she agrees to shoot a few videos with Charlie, a friend from school. The videos nearly immediately go viral, leaving Ali uncertain what to do in the face of this new internet fame. Charlie wants to shoot more installments, her friends think the whole situation is awesome, and Ali’s just trying to finish her choreography solo and get ready for auditions at the dance studio. It was a really neat look at the power of the internet. Something so little can so easily come to mean so much to thousands of people, each with their own opinions about a girl they’ve never met. It’s a familiar story - especially for people like us who use the internet so much in our daily lives.
The suspense in the book is quickly increased through as Ali begins to wonder if she’s being stalked by one of her ‘fans.’ The ins and outs of the situation as her friends work together to try to figure out who’s behind it are fully explored, This part becomes the weakest of the book as the pacing falters while the students suspect one person than another, but the highlight of this section is Ali questioning everything. Did she bring this on herself? Is she responsible for the invasions of privacy? What does she need to do to protect herself?
It feels difficult to say that I ‘loved’ this part because it’s such a horrible topic, and I’d never want to see anyone go through such a situation, but I felt the way the author handled the entire question was really, really well done. I don’t want to get into any type of spoilers, but I will say that I thought both the final culprit - and the reasoning behind it - relieved me. I was a little worried at times that the book was going to veer into some victim blaming of Ali, and it was really excellent to see it go in a completely different direction.
The friendship of Jacy, the boy downstairs (and yes, I called him Jace for ¾ of the book) and Ali is another strong point of this book. The two really feel like best friends since forever, and when Jacy starts to pull away from the friendship, Ali’s left unmoored and unsettled in the midst of this entire ordeal. Jacy’s story is just as compelling as Ali’s and once some of his personal situation is revealed, we get two strong characters at the center of this tension-filled book.
I requested this book from NetGalley because of the dancing aspect, and while that part was definitely enjoyable, the realistic tension and questions about privacy and stalking, both on the internet and in person, were very well done. Plus there’s a good story of boy/girl friendship that might just veer into more. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a tense contemporary read.
Thank you to NetGalley and HarlequinTeen for the opportunity to read and review dancergirl.