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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ARC Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.


Review: 
I first read Jane Eyre when I was a teenager.   I loved Charlotte Bronte's story of a plain girl from a humble background falling in love with the brooding Mr. Rochester.  Two people, misunderstood, who find each other.  In Brightly Burning, author Alexa Donne updates the story and sets it in SPACE!!!  I was delighted that this story closely followed the original, while treating  the reader to a modern, romantic story.

What I Liked:
Setting:
Earth has gone through a disaster that has plummeted it into a new Ice Age.  A small portion of humanity has escaped on spaceships that have orbited the Earth for over two-hundred years.  If the plot seems familiar, I agree...

                                     
via GIPHY

But, this book delves into the nitty-gritty details of what might happen to society if we were all fighting for survival in space.  How would people be valued when resources are limited?  Would there be a class system?  How would pandemic illnesses be dealt with?  The author explores these questions and more.

Characters:
Stella, the main character, is girl who is used to living with hardships.  Orphaned at an early age, and spurned by her heartless aunt, Stella is not a complainer.  Yet, she wants a better life for herself than what she has.   The spaceship Stalwart is rumored to be close to failing, doomed to fall back to Earth, killing all of it's passengers.  So Stella applies for a job as a governess aboard a private ship.  I loved that Stella could be resilient, opinionated, and strong, but not full of herself.  She is pretty, but not in a traditional way.  And she doesn't seem to get social interactions as easily as others do.  So while she seems to be confident, she actually wrestles with self-doubt. 

Hugo, the young captain of the Rochester, drinks excessively which leads his moods to go from fun and flirty, to sullen and arrogant in an instant.  While this confuses, and infuriates Stella, she also sees that he is a kind brother, and a person she can find common interests with.  They both love reading, and can spend hours together discussing books.  She sees his faults and still likes him.  

There are many characters that are in both Jane Eyre and Brightly Burning, but one that I like even more in this new version is Bianca.  This version shows is less a caricature of a spoiled brat and more of a complicated person.  Bianca's family has put all their hopes in her finding a rich husband, and they have set their sites on Hugo.  But I liked that she was well aware, and angry, about being sold off to keep her family's privileged standing.

Story:  
I like how the story recreates many of the same moments from the original Jane Eyre.  There is the tragic background story of Stella (Jane), Stella's acceptance as a governess at the beautiful, but remote, Rochester spaceship (manor house),  and the arrogant, but handsome captain of the spaceship, Hugo (although now the main character is a teenager).  There is even the house party from the original story.  And who is that laughing outside Stella's door in the middle of the night?  It all fits together smoothly.  You really do not need to be familiar with Jane Eyre to enjoy this novel.  But if you love the source material, picking up on the many details taken from the classic book will be a treat.

What I Was Mixed About:
The Ending:
While I did enjoy the ending and how it was similar to how Jane Eyre finished, I thought the author rushed through the details.  One of the things I liked about the story in Brightly Burning, was how all of the aspects of living in space would work.  But, at the end, when there is an abrupt change, it is not given the same realistic approach as the rest of the book (yes, I am being vague here because I don't want to give anything away).  I had many questions about how this plot twist would have actually played out, but it seemed like there was no time for the author to address them in the rush to finish the book.

Rating: 




Release Date:  May 1st, 2018


Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers


Genre:  YA Science Fiction / Romace


Page Length: 400 pages


Source:  NetGalley


Format:  PDF


Recommendation:  Space and Gothic romance!  An enjoyable update on a classic novel. 
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