Monday, August 5, 2013
ARC Review: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy
Soho Teen, 2013
Scheduled to release August 13
Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
So many thoughts! This caught my attention due to its title and its kind of similarity to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (as the publisher synopsis references John le Carre, I suspect that is not unintentional). Additionally the cover is quite striking with its vivid pops of color (pink and yellow is combination I am loving this summer). And my third reason, like I need a third reason after the intriguing first two, was the setting in 1982 Soviet Union. Have you ever read a YA book set then and there? I don't think I have and I always want to try the new and unique.
The book started out promisingly following young Marina whose dancer mother is very important to the USSR, resulting in quite a cushy lifestyle. However when her mother discovers something she should not, Marina and her father flee to the US trying to build a new life. However they cannot forget her mother left behind, abandoned and their attempts to reunite lead to tragedy.
Though I didn't mention it in my brief summary above, Marina (and her mother) has a special power: a second sight of sorts. Wow did I hate that element. I found it confusing and unnecessary in a book I was already struggling to follow. When I read historical fiction, I expect to either find myself in what I consider a somewhat glamorous world that I know a lot about (like Regency London) or to be educated about a time period I don't really know (such as the USSR in any period). But I never quite followed the KGB plot-perhaps that confusion is supposed to mirror the confusion and suspicions entertained by people during that period. Regardless, I did not enjoy it and really struggled to finish the book.
One plot point I did like was Marina's attempts to acclimate to life in the United States and the portrayals of her and other immigrants' experiences in a hostile new world. Another was the moments of dance though brief and mentions of music, which are more elaborate. There is also a romance that was okay and an excellent Valentine's Day Massacre dance scene that I really liked.
Overall: My unfamiliarity with the time period made this a difficult read that I struggled to finish. I found it all very confusing and never connected with any of the characters.
I Am, Indeed