Monday, March 26, 2012

Various Positions

Georgia is a teenage ballet dancer who is largely unhappy with her life outside of ballet. She doesn't have any true friends and her dysfunctional family grates on her nerves. After being accepted to the Royal Ballet Academy, her world is thrown into turmoil. Roderick, the unforgiving and harsh ballet instructor, expects absolute perfection and isn't afraid to point out the harsh realities to his students. He singles out Georgia as a star and someone to emulate for the other students. As a result, Georgia starts to interpret attraction from his actions and she fantasizes constantly about what their relationship would be like in her head. Is Georgia's fantasy real or is she completely delusional? How will the repercussions of her actions effect her future?

The description for Various Positions read kind of like a Black Swan for teens, but it was actually a lot different. I had a lot of problems with the book, but there were some things I liked. The writing was engaging and kept me reading despite the problems I had with the novel. Georgia was an interesting character with very little connection to others in her life. I really felt for her in the first half of the novel because of her abusive, horrible friends and her constantly fighting parents. The way she thought about her sexuality and the way she explored it is something I haven't seen before in teen fiction. Typically, girls in YA novels don't seem to be interested in their own sexuality outside of a relationship, which I don't find very realistic. As in Black Swan, Georgia viewed sexuality as horrible and thought ballet was ideal without it until she met her ballet teacher. She believed he wanted her to be completely virginal while dancing and outside of dance he wanted the opposite extreme. This aspect never really developed into anything meaningful, which was disappointing.

The rest of the book was a disappointment. Ballet wasn't featured in the book very much despite the marketing and back cover description. In the latter half of the novel, Georgia was simply an unapologetically horrible person. She put a girl with body image issues on a very strict diet, contributing to and worsening the girl's anorexia. Afterwards, Georgia's only concern was for people finding out her own part in it instead of having concern for the girl who became practically skeletal with her help. Her imagined relationship with her teacher was horribly damaging to everyone involved in the end. She tried to seduce him and left suggestive pictures in his desk. Roderick was a harsh and blunt teacher, but not a sexual predator and never gave her any indication that he was sexually interested in her. Her actions and the photos that were found of her made everyone assume that the teacher had raped her or traded better ballet roles for sexual favors. Even if the situation was cleared in the end, irreparable damage was done to his reputation and career that wasn't deserved. Georgia only really cared that she was rejected by the man she was interested in and nothing more. She also was never really punished for her horrible actions and didn't seem to learn much from the experiences at all. By the end of the book, I was really angry.

Various Positions was a strange read with some interesting concepts and good narrative, but was overall disappointing and maddening.

My rating: 1/5 fishmuffins

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