Book Review: Instructions for Dancing

Title: Instructions for Dancing

Author: Nicola Yoon

Pub. Date: June 3, 2021

Pages: 304

Pub: Penguin

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with her eagerly anticipated third novel. With all the heart and hope of her last two books, this is an utterly unique romance.

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible and read via eARC provided by NetGalley and Penguin. So, thank you to NG and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this almost immediately once I saw it hit NG. I’d never read any of Nicola’s other books before, and this sounded adorable. It gave me similar vibes to Rachel Harris’ Eyes on Me and I loved that – so I assumed this was going to be right up my alley. Cute, rom com, with a dancing element and just adorable moments.

I’m definitely a fan of characters who don’t believe/have lost faith in love, only to get proven wrong and fall in love – so I liked Evie. She’s pretty cynical, and there were moments when I wanted to shake her and just tell her to open up and relax. But overall, I liked her journey and the realizations she comes to.

I loved her mother and her sister – their whole relationship felt real and relatable. I couldn’t really relate to her relationship with her dad, but I loved how that progressed and changed and the conversations they had.

Evie’s friends were fun, I feel like Martin is a character I could really get behind – and I’d totally read a book featuring him and his crush – if you know, you know. I think they’d be really adorable and fun together.

As for X – I liked him. He’s enjoyable, but I didn’t click with him the same way I did with the other characters. I just felt like he was a bit surface.

I don’t really know how to explain it. Maybe it was a pacing thing, but everything happened so quickly, and his chemistry with Evie, while cute, just didn’t feel believable. I don’t know. I just didn’t feel anything deep for the two of them. Surface level they’re adorable and I loved the progression of their relationship. There’s something wholly satisfying and oh so fun when the guy is 100% all in, and the girl is a tad apprehensive. He doesn’t pressure her or make her feel uncomfortable – he’s more than happy to go her pace, but there’s this knowing that he knows she’s all in, before she does. I eat that up, and that’s very much these two.

Though, my favorite character had to be Fifi – she’s hysterical and wonderful. I loved her.

So, we’ve covered the characters, let’s dive into the rest.

Firstly, I’ll be honest, I hated the ending of this book. Hated it. It made me so mad at work, and up until that point, I’d been really enjoying the book. And if I step back from my emotions – I still liked the book. But if we’re talking about how I feel – then the ending just made the journey seem pointless. I’m still angry.

There’s also a magical element to this book – which I wasn’t expecting. I love this incorporation of magic in contemporaries – it’s fun and whimsical. But this felt a little random. I get that it’s used to teach a lesson, very Fairy Grandmother-esque, but it was kind of out of place. Had I known going in that there was going to be magic, or whatever you want to call it, I think I would have been more on board, but it was just so out of left field. And it ties into the ending – which is still angering me.

Plot-wise, I wish the dancing had been a bigger focus, and not just a plot element to orchestrate a meet-cute. The dancing seemed like such a side plot and I was kind of bummed. I guess I expected to see their relationship grow through the dancing, and while it sort of it, their relationship sprung up outside of the dance floor. It also sprung up really quickly and kind of out of nowhere. Not quite insta-love, but pretty damn close.

I did like that this was a really quick read. The writing style, and just the way the book is formatted makes for an incredibly fast read – I did most of the audio in one day. It just flies by.

I’m just going to end my review here. While I didn’t love this book, I didn’t hate it. There were definitely moments that I really enjoyed, others…not so much. I think I’d read Nicola’s other books, and whatever she puts out in the future. I’m glad I read this, and finally read one of her books – I’ve been meaning to dive in for a while now. If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable, cute YA contemporary, you might want to give this a shot.

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