August 13, 2018

Book Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
My rating: ★★★★☆

Jane Eyre in space! It’s an excellent elevator pitch and certainly worked to sell Brightly Burning to tons of book lovers. When I first heard this description in one of my writing forums, I immediately started following the author and excitedly waited for the book to come out.

I don’t know if current teens are familiar with the classic story of Jane Eyre. I was required to read it the summer before my freshman year of high school which was… a long time ago. Since it’s been a while, I’m not going to compare this novel too much to the classic, but look at it on its own merits.

Brightly Burning follows Stella, an orphan teen who desires a teaching job on any ship other than the hunk of bolts where she’s been stationed. She gets an offer on her backup choice as the governess on the spaceship Rochester. Once there, she lives an almost charmed life: teaching her one pupil, living in lavish quarters, and attracting the attention of the handsome captain, Hugo. But strange things happen on the ship, and eventually, Hugo is no longer able to keep his big, dark secret.

I enjoyed reading this book. The action was fairly fast-paced and the space opera backdrop was an interesting addition. However, there were quite a few elements that bugged me. The reason there are spaceships orbiting Earth is that the planet has entered another ice age. I just couldn’t buy this. Humans thrived in the last ice age, and if we knew another was coming, we’d find a better way to continue on without just launching scads of people into space. Also, Stella is annoyingly boy crazed even at the beginning of the book, making it hard for me to like her.

This isn’t really a spoiler, but it happens at the end, so I’ll spoiler tag it. George gets injured and left for dead, then soon after, Stella learns that he hasn’t died, but is in critical condition. And then we never learn what happens to him, even though he was her best friend on the Stalwart. You can’t leave loose ends like that in a stand-alone novel!

One thing that other reviews have claimed is that Stella and Hugo suffered from a case of insta-love. I absolutely don’t agree with this assessment. I thought their relationship was quite authentic and refreshing—especially for YA. Hugo is immediately attracted to Stella and constantly tries to win her over while she takes some time to warm up to him.

Overall, this was a fun, fairly fluffy read. Anyone who enjoys YA romance will love reading Brightly Burning.

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