11 August 2013

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy; Elizabeth Kiem

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, SpyDancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Interesting idea, but poorly conceived and very confusing.

Major problems: teens today have no real idea about the Cold War and what that was like, much less how it was behind the Iron Curtain. Kiem doesn't do a great job showing us how regulated the society was, how everyone spied on each other, and how easy it was for people to disappear. Even the funeral scenes don't really convey how the Soviet population (as well as the rest of the world) studied very carefully where people were placed and what was said to get a sense of who was, and who was not, in power. Luckily for me(?) I do remember all that so I know how much isn't included.

Another problem is when Marina and her father get to Brighton Beach - the spy stuff just doesn't make sense. What secrets are being shopped to whom? How did they get to her father? It's not surprising the Marina doesn't know, but that we're given no idea except suddenly we're in an episode of Spy v. Spy. The blurbage comparing this to LeCarre? Not even close. At least there you got a real idea as to what was at stake, who was doing what and why.

And then there are the minor niggles, like a 17-year-old getting in to Julliard. Not likely. The pre-college division is only for musicians, not dancers. Much more likely, she'd audition for School of American Ballet and perhaps, if she's really as good as we're told, Balanchine or Martins would pull her into the NYCB company. Or the depiction of the East Village in 1982, aka the era of Rent. 'Nuff said.

ARC provided by publisher.

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