There are no spoilers in this review.
Bright Burning Stars was way darker than I expected it to be and I advise you to check the trigger warnings, if you want to know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s, well, dark, and more often than not it felt like reading a story about a train that was about to crash. You know it’s going to happen, yet you can’t stop reading, because it was written in such a compelling, addictive way and I couldn’t help but care for these flawed characters.
FRIENDSHIP AT THE HEART OF THE STORY
Bright Burning Stars follows two teenagers in ballet school in Nanterre (that’s in France! French-me is happy!!!). If this reminded me a little bit of Tiny, Pretty Things – and if you love this book, I’d definitely recommend you give BBS a try, I also found it different in a lot of ways, too. The two main characters, Marine and Kate, have been best friends for years and made a pact to tell each other everything. Yet, as the story goes on and the school pressure gets stronger and stronger, we, slowly but surely, see this friendship crumbling. This was my favorite part of the book -wow, this sounds very cruel to write it like that. I loved the focus on the two main characters’ friendship and how it grew, changed and evolved as the competition got stronger and stronger and the two girls’ ambitions took over, well, everything else.
TWO AMBITIOUS, FLAWED MAIN CHARACTERS.
Told from two point of views, we get to see both Marine and Kate’s stories, both very different, yet equally compelling to read. I’m not going to say that I adored one or the other, because that would be wrong: the two main characters are, at times, hard to love because of what they do and the lengths they would go to to reach their dreams and goals, leaving everything and everyone behind, especially each other. Yet, as I read on, I couldn’t help but care for both of them, want them to turn back to the right path and most importantly, back to each other and this wonderful friendship they had. The two main characters are ambitious and determined, but while Marine is struggling with her grief and the loss of her brother as well as her weight, Kate herself is struggling with her mental health and making very poor boy choices as well, which wasn’t easy to read at times. Yet, I kept on reading because I just wanted both of them to be okay.
COMPETITION AND BALLET PASSION
Bright Burning Stars is about competition, about passion, about finding your path, but knowing what you might give up if you follow it without a second thought and a second look back. The story gave us interesting side-characters as well, but I wish that we got to understand Cyrille, a little bit better. I absolutely despised, him, yet somehow I wanted to know him more and his reasons behind his terrible behavior, as well.
I’d definitely recommend Bright Burning Stars. The ballet, the focus on complex friendship, competition and these ambitions girls, all of these were elements that made me keep on reading and made this book a very entertaining read. I’m keeping this author on my radar for sure!
Final rating: 4 drops!
The biggest thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me a free e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
Trigger warnings: eating disorder, death, loss of a loved one, grief, smoking, drug use, kiss without consent, self-harming, suicidal thoughts, depression, suicide attempt, drinking, abortion, teen pregnancy.
A.K. Small, Bright Burning Stars, Published on May 21st, 2019 by Algonquin Young Readers.
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
Did you read Bright Burning Stars? Do you want to?
What was the last YA contemporary book you’ve read and loved? Let me know in comments!