Size Doesn’t Matter (202): The Midnight Dance; A Line in the Dark

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (202): The Midnight Dance; A Line in the DarkThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Published by Swoon Reads on October 17, 2017
Genres: Steampunk, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

Ah, Swoon Reads, here we are, doing this dance once again. You have a beautiful cover and promising premise and I know better, but oh I just cannot resist your allure. I cannot quit you, Swoon Reads, but sometimes I want to. The Midnight Dance is Dollhouse meets the Chemical Garden trilogy, and it’s okay but it’s not great.

Early on, I actually found myself oddly captivated by The Midnight Dance. I found the writing pleasant and easy to consume, and something about it made me want to keep reading, despite not being especially into the characters or story. So that’s good, because it means I might try more Katz in the future.

First warning, don’t come for the ballet, because there’s actually not much ballet in here. And the MC hates ballet, so it’s really not about that. It’s basically like if the dolls from Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse were only tasked to be ballerinas. Which is kind of cool, except I have so many questions. Why does this dude have so much money to spend on this? Because this is a costly operation and putting on the occasional ballet just cannot bring in that much dough. His evil plan is a harem of ballerinas, which is creepy af, but we’re not exactly talking world domination here and also why ballerinas? I know why he’s obsessed with tech but I do not get the ballet connection at all.

Romance-wise, this is so completely Chemical Garden. Penny (it’s not weird for me to have to look her name up bc my memory but I actually don’t even recognize her name two weeks later, so yeah not the most memorable book tbh) is realizing that something’s weird, because she’s starting to have memories that don’t fit her life. She’s basically been trained to be into stockholm syndrome creep dude, but she’s got ~feelings~ for the cute house boy, Cricket. There is no chemistry any which way, and I really didn’t care about this.

The Midnight Dance really just needed more: more characterization, more pizzazz, more dancing, and way more world building. I kind of enjoyed reading it, but I forgot it again almost immediately after. By no means the worst Swoon Reads has offered, but not particularly satisfying.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (202): The Midnight Dance; A Line in the DarkA Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
Narrator: Jennifer Lim
Length: 7 hrs, 21 mins
Published by Listening Library on October 17, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond's best friend. And that's the most important thing, even if Angie can't see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. If nobody notices her, she's free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more a curse than a gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot's circle, Jess discovers more than her friend's growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won't be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

"It doesn't even matter that she probably doesn't understand how much she means to me. It's purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I'm her best friend."

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

A Line in the Dark is actually my first Malinda Lo. They’re basically all on my to-read list, but they never happened. Probably this isn’t where I should have started since I’m just not a mystery person. I liked A Line in the Dark, but it wasn’t really up my alley.

Listen, I know why I don’t like mysteries (unless they’re super shippy), but I will apparently never learn to stop trying a few a year, just to check. I mean, tastes do change! Peas used to make me gag, but now I eat them regularly voluntarily because yum. Today is not that day. So yeah, as with every mystery review I write, don’t let me put you off (unless you are also just not really a mystery person because you want character-driven shippiness), because I feel like, if you are, this may satisfy you just fine. The mystery’s pretty cool, though I remain unsure how I feel about the resolution of the tale. I do think it seemed relatively surprising for what that’s worth (though I tend to be dumb about this because I don’t read a lot of mystery).

Anyway, I came here for the f/f, which I got kind of but it’s very much not shippy. Jess, the main character, is in love with her best friend Angie. She’s doing the whole secretly pining thing and staying resolutely in the closet, and it’s all fine until out-and-proud Angie gets a girlfriend. Jess abhors that Angie has a girlfriend and becomes a really terrible friend not so much because of Margot being terrible (which idk maybe) but because Jess wants to get in Angie’s pants. Part of why I don’t enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope is shit like this; it’s awful if you treat your best friend like shit because you love them and they don’t want you back). I also didn’t really get why Jess hadn’t ever tried to make a move and pretended to be straight. There are plenty of reasons people do this, but I just didn’t really understand where Jess was coming from with anything, which made it hard to be sympathetic. Since it’s mostly from Jess’ POV, it was hard to get close to anyone else either.

A Line in the Dark entertained me for 7 hours, but I wasn’t emotionally invested. Will I ever care about mystery plots? It’s a mystery.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


3 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (202): The Midnight Dance; A Line in the Dark”

  1. Leah says:

    A Line in the Dark was my first Malinda Lo book too. I was happy to see an Asian main character and f/f romance, too, but I was also let down by it. I thought Jess being obsessed with Angie was well done, but when it switched to third person and the end reveal happened, I was so confused. Definitely not the best Lo book to start with.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeah, that part was reallllly weird. I wondered if it worked better in print, but maybe not. I very much should have started with one that’s actually an f/f romance, rather than an f/f thriller.

  2. […] this Indiana Jones in space story both fun and boring.  A Reader of Fictions looks at two books, A Midnight Dance and A Line in the Dark. Ultimately, she found both books to be okay, but nothing to write home about.  Finally, […]

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