By: Lesa Howard
Narrated By: Kai Kennicott
Publish Date: October 2, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
First Impression: This story feels more of a blend of the movie Save the Last Dance at the beginning and Phantom of the Opera toward the end.
Christine Dadey's family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy's finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she's told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she's willing to do to cope with it. Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world's stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik's face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he's lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine. Drawn in by Erik's unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik's declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine's hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik's shadowy past jeopardizes Christine's unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.
"Mom, you can't seriously be thinking of injecting poison into your face."
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My Thoughts and Summary:
All performing auditoriums and stages have their own ghosts. Rousseau Academy of Dance is no different. However, this ghost might be real, as a broken stage light and a silver necklace with a pendant is found. Christine's dream to become a ballerina with the company is in jeopardy if she can't audition for the Second Company to move up in ranks. But she has her own fears to deal with. When she visits the theater, she meets a young man who starts to help her with her dance. But he sees more in her. Her dreams and relationships are now in danger after opening herself to a young man behind a mask.
The dance world is extremely competitive, yet Christine has been blessed to find a few great friends here. Jena, Liam, and Van. She even meets a great boy to fall for, Raoul.
Christine has big plans as a future ballerina, but she needs to excel at the junior academy as her first step. She struggles with the performances and it's holding her back. She hopes with hard work she can hopefully over come it, and soon.
The beginning is a soft start with introductions to the characters around Christine. In two chapters we get hints that there is a mystery here and it builds slowly from there. There is something going on here, and it's not just Liam and Van trying to get the Ghost Hunters here to investigate the 'ghost' to be on tv. There are a lot of wide connections quickly made at the beginning of the story - different people in different places that Christine bumps into. Yet we don't get the true feel of the 'Phantom' until about chapter 19.
This story feels more of a blend of the movie Save the Last Dance at the beginning and Phantom of the Opera toward the end.
Even though it was slower starting, somewhere along the way I found I was drawn into Christine's life. I looked forward to seeing what would happen to her and how she'd react. This brought me to feel that the story is character driven. All that happens around Christine affects her. You get drawn into her world of dance and life. All she experiences and how she grows with it, yet falls apart as well. Christine comes across as naive when it comes to boys and the ways the world can be harsh and unexpected. The reason for this, as she's shy of eighteen, is she's focused her life on ballet, which is extremely time consuming.
Her mom cares, but she's going through a rough time in her life as well. She's struggling with being a working single mom and her own emotions with recent events.
The story is a Young Adult feel in the beginning. BUT there are events that happen later in the story that I would recommend for older readers. An abusive relationship is present. It's not a complete description of the event, but you are well aware what has happened and it's talked about. I wanted to mention it as it so young teens aren't unaware as to what's here. What is it? I'll type in white and you can highlight to get it: Christine is drugged and raped.
As I found I was drawn into the story and needed to listen to how things turned out, there was one small thing at the end that still floats in my mind. It hasn't upset me, but feels... I don't know, I didn't much care for it. I understand it being here, but it feels off. What is it? Well it's a spoiler so I'll type in white and you can highlight to see it: After what the Phantom did to Christine, and knowing the flower is one she shares with him & dancing - at the end she mentions after her performances she knows she has one fan out there because after each performance she has one flower left for her at her prep area. Um, this is still stalking. And she's okay with it.
I listened to this story on Audible. At the beginning there were a few moments where the narrator seemed muffled and hard to hear. But after the first chapter all was well. She did a lovely job with different voices to distinguish the different characters. She had the young girl sound to her voice as if I was listening to Christine talk. She did a wonderful job of narrating the story and not distracting from it, but enhancing it.