• NZ Booklovers

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Updated: Aug 10


The cover of this book and the blurb on the front writes ‘Love Moves to its Own Beat’ made one think this to be a fantastical YA romantic fiction piece. Not the case. Nicola Yoon seems to have veered from her traditional bubbly uplifting love stories of ‘The Sun is also a Star’ and ‘Everything Everything’.


The chatty style of writing fits with the genre of modern love stories but there is definitely a poignancy to the writing and a real sense of control over the narrative progression. This thought-provoking story really captured the imagination with the protagonist (Evie) and her ability to see into the near future.


Evie’s initial skepticism towards the very concept of love is derived from the breakup of her parents due to infidelity. Her foresight into the relationship outcomes - in most cases endings - of those around her is tantamount to the proverbial fuel to the fire as her initial frustrations and cynicisms with love are confirmed - it doesn’t last.


Upon reading it you find yourself in one of those ‘just-one-more-chapter’ situations until you read the entire thing in one evening. Such is the draw to the narrative. It is magical without being fantasy and romantic without being cheesy - quite the accomplishment.


The dance lessons that take up a significant portion of the text is a refreshing feel to the genre of YA. It seems about time for a reboot of those 80s classic dancing stories. One can imagine this being turned into a film at some point, and it would stand up to those classic films.


As characters the two main protagonists (Evie and Xavier -or X for short) are not as developed as one would like, but they suffice in providing enough to drive the story along quite comfortably. Evie’s magical power is one that gives just enough to believe without becoming over the top.


Be prepared for some sadness. It is brutal at times. You may even find yourself gently dabbing at the edges of your eyes from time to time.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Penguin, RRP $21.00