Hi everyone! I’m back after a couple of weeks of not posting due to mock exams and today I’m going to be reviewing Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon.
Instructions For Dancing is a beautifully original love story following two protagonists: hard-hearted and cynical Evie, who doesn’t believe in love, and impulsive and open X, who baffles Evie. The two soon undertake dancing lessons together in a bid to win a competitive dance competition, and it doesn’t take long for sparks to fly… Both on and off the dance floor.
There were so many different aspects of this story which made it so wonderfully unique, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The visions, the dancing, and the wonderful characterisation all added to my love for this book, but I think it’s safe to say that the thing I loved the most was the amazing relationship between the two.
There was just something about Evie and X that made you root for them throughout. It could’ve been their adorable first meeting, it could’ve been their chemistry, it could’ve been Evie’s overarching cynicism… Honestly, it was probably a mixture of all three. All I know is that Evie and X’s relationship was really well written, and that there was just something I can’t quite place my finger on that made their relationship stand out from others.
The visions also made this book stand out from other contemporaries. I think it was a really clever inclusion on Yoon’s part, and it just made me fall in love with the book more. The idea of seeing a couple’s whole relationship play out was really interesting and I’d never read anything like it before, and I think it’s safe to say that I loved the chapters with visions included.
I also loved the chapters with the dancing lessons. Being a non-dancer myself, I found it really interesting to read about Evie and X learning to dance as well as the tips included. The competition was a really nice aspect to include and it added an extra sense of direction throughout.
Another interesting aspect which was included was the lists. Although the vast majority of the book was written as standard chapters, there were some lists scattered in as a little extra something, especially near the beginning. In that respect it was quite similar to Everything, Everything, although it certainly didn’t have as many different chapter formats as the latter did.
Of course, the characters themselves were also amazing. Yoon did a really great job with striking the right balance of Evie’s cynicism without making her unlikable, and she was really funny and witty, too. X was also really well written, and his just say yes philosophy was really inspiring and touching to read!
The character development in this book was also perfect. I loved watching Evie’s progress and her gradual change in attitude towards love. This was partially a result of the visions and I thought this was a really clever way of Yoon adding an extra dimension to her character development as the changes she underwent weren’t just the result of her relationship with X – it went a lot deeper than that.
Of course, Evie and X’s friends were also wonderful. Each of them was really different and unique and it made for a really well rounded friendship group. I particularly liked Martin – he was really sweet and I loved the bond he shared with Evie.
Family was another important theme in this book. We learnt very early on about the disasters of her parents’ relationship, and it was the main thing Evie’s hard outlook on love stemmed from. Having said that, it was a reasonably big theme in the book, and watching Evie’s attitude towards her dad develop was really interesting to read.
Ultimately, though, the central theme to Instructions For Dancing was the idea of love and loss. Yoon explored the central idea of whether the joy love brings being worth the heartbreak later on down the line, which was a really touching theme to include. Yoon expertly explored this through the visions, where we saw the highs and lows of each relationship, and it became abundantly clear that love was worth the heartbreak.
The ending was also amazing, even if it was really bittersweet. Yoon has this almost effortless way of tying up her books and it’s safe to say that Instructions For Dancing didn’t disappoint. The ending was really satisfying and it was great to see Evie’s journey come to an end.
Overall, I would recommend Instructions For Dancing for anyone who is looking for a wonderful contemporary with added elements which make it stand out from the rest. I’d also recommend it to any fan of Nicola Yoon – I think it’s safe to say that this book is just as good as The Sun Is Also A Star and Everything, Everything!
I hope you enjoyed this review!