First Lines: “Mom, you can’t seriously be thinking of injecting poison into your face.”
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a review. And let me tell you, when she hit me up to read this, I was all over it. Because it’s a modern taken on The Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite musical-movies. (I’ve never actually seen the stage version…same thing with Rent.)
Two years ago, Christine’s family uprooted themselves and moved to Houston so Christine could practice ballet at the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. The competition is fierce, which does nothing to help Christine with her debilitating anxiety. With her parents also on the brink of divorce, Christine doesn’t know how to keep her life together. Until she meets Erik, a ballet prodigy who lost his promising career when a fire horribly marred his face. He hides behind the curtain and teaches her everything he knows to make her the dancer she’s always dreamed she could be. But what happens when it turns out Erik isn’t quite the person he claims to be?
So this modern take turned opera into ballet, a switch I was perfectly ok with. In fact, I probably would have thought it was strange if it had stayed opera. (Do people still even go to the opera?)
I thought the updates overall were worth it for the story. Houston instead of Paris, ballet instead of opera. It still felt like the same story without actually being the same story, you know? Like, even though I knew how Phantom goes, I didn’t know how this story was going to go, exactly.
All of the main players in the story have the same name as they do in the original tale, too. Christine, Erik, and, yes, Raoul. That was a weird name to try to fit into modern times, probably because I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard it in my everyday life. But they play the same roles, too.
Speaking of the characters, I thought they were pretty great. Christine is sweet and a bit naive, which makes it believable that she’d fall into the situations she does. Raoul is a total sweetheart, though almost too much of a sweetheart. (There were a few moments where it felt kinda fake because he was just so perfect.) And Erik is this genius who also happens to be terrifyingly creepy. I’m serious when I say he was at least equal to the creepy that comes off the original Erik. But one of my favorite characters was Jenna, Christine’s best friend. She was a hoot.
As I mentioned, the one fix I would have liked from the story was the relationship between Christine and Raoul. Sometimes, it seemed too perfect. And it moved really really fast. I understand why though, because the 2nd half of the story hinged on them being together. But it just felt super rushed. I didn’t buy into it until we were almost at the end of the story. I actually became suspicious of the love story at one point for the simple reason that it was moving so fast. If someone’s moving a relationship along that quickly, there has to be an ulterior motive, right? At least that was my thinking.
Overall, I thought this was a very lovely modernization of a fairly well-known story. I really don’t know a thing about ballet (except that I can’t watch it without breaking out in giggles). But it gave me a new respect for these dancers. Anyway, I digress. Lovely story and creepy in all the right places.