Review: Bright Burning Stars, A.K Small

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.



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.



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.



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!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

22 thoughts on “Review: Bright Burning Stars, A.K Small

  1. Wow this sounds like a very intense read, but at the same time I may have to add this to my TBR list. I love the fact that so much of the story focuses on the friendship between Marine and Kate. I love friendships in books so even reading something like this, where the close friendship between the two girls falls apart, would be perfect for me because as long as it’s well-written and developed I’ll love it.
    However I will need to think about this one, just because of the trigger warnings, but I feel like if I’m warned going in it may not be so bad. 🙂
    Great review Marie. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! This book was so interesting to read, especially because so much of the focus was on the girls’ friendship changing as things happened and I loved that so much.
      Definitely take care first, it’s not an easy read at times with everything happening, read it when you’re ready ❤
      Thank you so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I rated this at 4 as well, and also saw shades of all the ballet books I have read in the past, though I think this one had the most actual ballet in it, which I really enjoyed. I was so, so happy with where Small went with the ending, oh! and your aesthetic is fantastic for this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh this sounds so interesting! I really like stories about complex dynamics like this. While I do like to see positive representations of female friendship (cause, history. haha) the fact is sometimes relationships turn toxic, and that is just as worth reading about. And, if I’m being honest, entertaining. I don’t know what it is but I just love a book about people being awful to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha somehow I can get that, I also find the drama of it all highly entertaining, so you’re not alone! 🙂
      This book was so interesting in that it explored a friendship slowly dissolving, changing and I loved that about it so much, I feel like we need more books exploring these kind of complex relationships 🙂
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❤


  4. Great review! This sounds like such a wonderful, emotional and intense read. I absolutely love reading books that explore female friendships and flawed characters are my favorites, so I have a feeling I’ll love this! Adding it to my TBR 😊


  5. This book sounds super intense! But I think most ballet books tend to be, because of the hard work that goes into the craft. The people who stick with it throw their entire being into their dancing. Although I say this not having read too many dance books in general, so who really knows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was really intense! I can’t really speak of it without having living it myself, but that’s the feeling I got from the ballet books I’ve read so far, as well. It’s so compelling to read 🙂
      I hope you’ll give this one a try! and thank you Malka ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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