Back Blurb: 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?
The Book: Holy. Hell. This book is downright scary at times. If you thought Tiny Pretty Things (#1) was shocking, you’re in for a sweet surprise. Shiny Broken Pieces is a total thrill ride. The “pranks” aren’t just cruel little games anymore. They’re brutal threats, far more dangerous and vicious than anything we’ve seen before. Things that aren’t just career-ruining, but life-ruining. And this time, ALL the girls are guilty.
The Plot: (MINOR SPOILERS)
“The higher you rise, the harder you fall.”
Because of the scandalous behavior of its students the previous year, the American Ballet Conservatory’s public image has been tarnished. In order to regain face, the school is getting stricter, which means the stakes are getting higher. It’s Senior Year and the game plan has changed. There will be no fall performance, only a one-night spring performance of Swan Lake. The Company is offering four spots based on that performance alone–two boys and two girls. Each girl is desperate to win. This is it. The one dance that will make or break their careers, everything they’ve worked for their entire lives.
After the accident, Bette was accused of pushing Gigi and got kicked out of the conservatory. Nobody could prove it, but her family was sued for everything she supposedly did to Gigi. The Abneys settled generously with Stewarts, but Bette is desperate to clear her name so she can return to school and audition for the ABC. Besides having a ruined reputation, Bette is still living beneath the glow of Adele’s halo. She’s training solo so she can prove once and for all that she’s a prima ballerina in her own right, not just an Abney family legacy. But it’s harder now that she’s alone and friendless. She’s still in love with Alec and longing for Eleanor’s company. Because of the legal issues, her father has come back into the picture, further complicating her already-bizarre family dynamics.
Meanwhile, June is having some daddy issues of her own: She finally knows who her father is. He’s been watching her for her entire life but will not acknowledge their secret relationship. She doesn’t understand why he doesn’t love her, why he doesn’t care. She’s sick of the rejection. Not just the silence from her father, but from the blatant racism that’s keeping her in the lower ranks. This year, June is going to work harder than she ever has before. She’s going to show the world what she’s worth once and for all. But it’s difficult to completely dedicate herself to ballet now that she has her first boyfriend. She’s finally with the boy she’s loved for years, Jayhe. Much to June’s dismay, his plans for the future don’t quite match up with hers. Eventually, June’s scary health secret comes out and her world unravels. She tries to take control but realizes maybe she can’t have everything she wants–-a promising ballet career and a loving boyfriend. Will she have to choose? What if she doesn’t make the cut and loses Jayhe?
Gigi is back and still recovering from her accident, both physically and emotionally. Pain from her broken leg keeps her from performing her best, but she’s still going for the top spot. But she doesn’t just want to be the best. She also wants revenge. She’s terrified of the other girls, only trusting Alec and Will. She’s paranoid and suspicious, especially of Bette. She’s certain Bette is the one who pushed her. She wants Bette to pay, to feel the pain and terror she went through. Her obsession with Bette comes between her and Alec, and then the Gigi we used to know is gone. The bubbly, carefree girl we used to love has been replaced by a complete stranger: a person whose only thoughts are of ballet, Alec, and retribution.
Most shockingly, last year’s star, Cassie, has returned. She left under mysterious circumstances and is perhaps the most broken butterfly of them all. Cassie makes it clear from the moment she arrives that she’s not letting anything stand in her way this time. She bonds instantly with Gigi, convincing her that she can’t play nice anymore. Gigi knows Cassie’s right; she HAS to be tough if she’s going to win a spot. Gigi is enamored by Cassie and hangs onto her every word. Cassie easily manipulates her into playing in her own personal game of revenge. Gigi gets so caught up in delivering payback that she doesn’t realize how dangerous the game really is until it’s almost too late.
The Characters: (MILD SPOILERS)
- Bette: Bette is still the poor little rich girl. She genuinely tries to change, remorseful of the things she’s done in the past. But old habits die hard. She can still be sneaky and resourceful when it turns out in her favor. It’s only when things hit too close to home that she realizes the true entirety of her actions. She reaches a turning point when people she loves get hurt because of her. Surprisingly, Bette shows a significant amount of growth. Losing everything important had humbled her, teaching her acceptance and a new kind of hope. But I doubt that if we see more of her, she’ll retain her newfound humility. Regardless of what happens to her, she’s still Bette Abney. She always finds a way to get what she wants.
- Gigi: Poor Gigi is traumatized by last year’s bullying and the accident. She firmly believes Bette is the one who pushed her. She wants Bette and everyone else who hurt her to pay, to feel the suffering she felt. Her hatred for Bette and the others is coming between her and Alec. She only trusts Alec, Will, and Cassie. But Cassie’s influence makes Gigi obsess about revenge. At first, Gigi has no shame when it comes to pranks. She feels so satisfied when she sees someone upset. It’s not until she actually hurts someone that she realizes what she’s doing. She hates the person she’s become. But how can she go back to being as happy and carefree as she once was? Ballet used to be her everything. Now, it’s driving her into depression. She just wants to dance the way she used to: full of life, love, and hope. She wants to forgive the people who wronged her; to relieve herself of the weight it carries. But some things are too difficult to forget.
- June: Poor June. She’s had things rough her entire life, and everything seems to be coming to a head. Her father rejects her. Sei-Jin and her followers constantly harass her. Jayhe is blind to Sei-Jin’s attempts to win him back, but June is still afraid. She doesn’t have a single real friend besides Jayhe and no other kind of support system. When her health secret is outed, she’s deeply ashamed. She’s forced her to finally face her demons. She may have to give up her dream because of all the damage she’s done. Realizing what she’s done to her body, June sets out on the path to recovery and forgiveness, both of herself and others. Her journey will be long and difficult; she’ll likely be on it for the rest of her life.
- Cassie: What’s interesting about Cassie’s character is that we never actually hear the story from her perspective like the other girls. We get a few tiny glimpses inside Cassie’s mind in the prologues of each book, then we only see what the other characters see. And it’s hard to like what we see. She’s the new Bette: cold, cruel, and calculated. She instigates the rivalries among all the girls and extends them far beyond what they were ever meant to be. Innocent people’s lives are ruined in the process. We know Cassie’s traumatized like Gigi, but we don’t know her beyond that. We don’t know what she was like before, if she really was sweet and innocent or if she really did deserve the things that happened to her. It’s an unanswered part of the plot that could lead into a whole new story simply from her perspective.
Some Positive Thoughts: Despite their flaws, you can’t help but fall in love with these girls. They’re so young and vulnerable. I just want to hug each of them and tell them that it will be ok, even though I know they won’t believe me. I want them to know that boys and dreams come and go. Things change, and as you get older, you’ll learn how to handle adversities better. Besides, in ten years, will any of this matter? There are a million different places and people in the world for you. You might find what you’re truly meant for. And you are perfect just the way you are.
One of the best thing about this series is its realism. At times it seems sadistic or too good to be try, but the reality is, these things happen everyday.: racism, bullying, drug abuse, eating disorders, statutory rape, family and relationship drama….the list goes on and on. They happen to real people of all ages, and especially to teenage girls.
The Ending: Shiny Broken Pieces is by no means a happy story. There’s no real “happy ending.” The girls are still scarred from their burns, both physically and emotionally. We find out the true culprits of the previous “pranks,” and not all are remorseful. There’s so much self-loathing and hatred of others. A couple of the girls showed amazing self-growth, but no matter each girl’s outcome, she still has inner demons to battle.
While there are a few loose ends that weren’t tied, the ending is perfectly bittersweet. The entire story is explosive until the very last line. Was that meant to be genuine or sarcastic? The mysterious tone of the final sentence could easily extend the story into something new and exciting. So is this really the end, or is another book coming? S & D have said there will be only two books in the series, but after shattering our worlds once again, it would be downright cruel of them not to give us more. TPT is as much of an addiction to us readers as ballet is to its stars. Please, Sona and Dhonielle, give us more!
P.S. I’m dying for a third book…can we possibly get a purple cover???
Best Quotes: (MINOR SPOILERS)
- “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.”
- “Better, faster, stronger, payback.”
- “You love to dance. You live to dance. But dying to dance? No. This I will not allow.”
- “But you like this…I can’t take it. It’s killing you, this dream. And it’s killing me.”
- “But this dream, it’s become a nightmare. You’ve barely made it out alive this year.”
- “Alone in the dark, I feel haunted. Butterflies, bloodstains, broken bones.”
- “From the wings, I spot some people in the front row up on their feet–-a standing ovation. One that’s well deserved. She’s perfect, flawless, the swan with an edge. The one, in the end, who makes the story worth reading, the ballet worth watching.”
- “Whatever else happens tonight, I’ll have that. A moment of perfection I can go back to over and over again, a memory that will stay with me. That I was more than good enough. That I was perfect.”
- “I’m disappointed in myself, I am. I know things could have gone differently if I had taken the reins then and redirected. But I’m in a good place, I remind myself.”
- “I knew what I was doing. But I got caught up in the glamour of it. The attention, the adoration. It was all about the power. It had nothing to do with dancing at all.”