It can be said that I’m a fan of Nicola Yoon. I’ve read one of her other books: Everything, Everything and the plot twist to that was one of the most memorable plot twists ever. So when Instructions for Dancing showed up on the Bootopia discount shelf at my local Periplus, I decided to go for it. This review has SPOILERS so beware!
In line with plot twists, Nicola Yoon definitely threw another major (and painful) twist towards the end of Instructions for Dancing. I’m quite sad to say that it didn’t work at all for me. Basically, a mysterious bookkeeper witch suddenly gives (or curses) Evie (our main character) with the ability to see the beginning, middle, and end of people’s relationships as they kiss. Witness a kiss, and BOOM, see what happens to their relationship.
Now the reason the plot twist didn’t work for me was because it involved the boy X (the love of Evie’s life) getting a heart attack and dying more or less 10 months after Evie has the vision. And she didn’t do anything about it! I mean, granted she didn’t know it was a heart attack, but if it was the love of my life I would at least BEG for a full medical check up! I know there was a conversation in which X had said he didn’t want to know when he would die because it prevented him from living life to the fullest, but I’d be hard pressed to believe that a young, seemingly healthy boy in love with life wouldn’t want to at least put up a fight before the face of death. At least, to have that chance. Thus the plot twist ended up rather upsetting for me.
Another unhappy issue I had with this book was that it romanticized cheating trope. Evie’s dad cheated on her Mom, which caused them to get a divorce. Now, I don’t mind cheating tropes, but I think there is a way to do it (even maintaining the same endings for the parents) so that it’s not romanticized.
Having said those two main issues, I have to say the writing was delightful. The banter between X and Evie, and their chemistry was so sweet. And I did like the ultimate message: that love is worth it even with all the painful thorns. I just really wished it was handled a bit differently. Will I be reading more Nicola Yoon? You bet.
For a sweet, happily-ever-after young adult romcom, check out My Mechanical Romance.