Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Review: Strictly Shimmer by Amanda Roberts

A 100% official Strictly Come Dancing novel, featuring the dancers, stars and judges you love!
What if an ordinary girl's Strictly dreams became a glittering reality?
Meet Amanda Roberts: a production runner on the set of Strictly Come Dancing, desperate to fit into the world of the dazzling and the beautiful. And when she discovers all the backstage drama, Amanda wonders if she is tough enough to survive.
But then things start to change…
And incredibly she finds more GLITZ, more MAGIC and more ROMANCE than she could possibly have imagined.
Prepare to be dazzled as you tango into the glamour and mayhem of the world behind the glitter ball.

There is something strangely compelling about this book, and I’m in two minds about it. I love Strictly Come Dancing, so it was for that reason only that against my better judgement I picked up a copy of this earlier today.
I knew there was a potential that it could be very bad, after all, a novel surrounding a TV show? We saw the Heroes and Torchwood books, we will so be judging.

I was right. This reads more like a first draft than anything at a publishable standard. There are typos, grammatical errors, and dialogue that is unbearably awkward. This reeks of the first draft of a book you wrote when you were sixteen and should have put back under the bed where it belongs. But instead of putting it down like I ought to have done, I kept reading.

None of the above problems got any better, although there is a distinct improvement about halfway through as Roberts begins to settle into writing. It feels rushed though, and I was shocked to discover that it was about this season of Strictly – which has barely even finished. How on earth did it get out so quickly?! The answer is simple, she wrote this long before the series finished, as the little details that were dotted throughout and pertained to each week, quickly stop before the semi-finals. Everything becomes increasingly vague, and it was in some ways a relief for her to step away from the truth and completely fictionalise the end. It became increasingly frustrating reading a book that made very vague efforts to hide the real names of the involved parties – in some cases the real names have slipped in and it’s quite irritating for Amanda’s boss to go from being ‘Chloe’ to ‘Sarah’ for a couple of pages.

Whilst I understand she had to fictionalise parts of it, having so much real life being written out with the odd bits of random fiction thrown in for good measure actually made this more irritating than enjoyable. There is an entirely new celebrity and professional dancer put in, just for the sake of a romantic entanglement – and it just drags everything else down. (Or at least I presume they’re fictional, and not a real life scandal trying to be hidden…) Either completely fictionalise, whilst using real experiences, or don’t, but this is a lesson in how not to mash up the too.

Also, just to add more confusion to the mix, it seems that the excerpts available on the official site
do not entirely tally with the book that has been published... Some aren't included and appear to have been written after the events have happened. I'm sorry but if you're going to write a book, don't list some thing that isn't included in the finished product as an excerpt. Either it's a bonus or a deleted scene - but this is taking the whole thing to new lows. Changing things that have already been written so that they tally with what happened after this has been published? It just makes a mockery of the entire process.

Mostly out of morbid curiosity I will be trying out the sequel ‘Strictly Glitter’ which will be gracing our shelves in summer 2011.
If you can suspend disbelief and aren’t as picky as I am about spelling and grammar, and are most importantly a strictly fan, then this is worth a read. But don’t expect anything particularly brilliant, as you’ll be sorely disappointed. 

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