Brightly Burning (Spoiler Free) Review

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Author: Alexa Donne

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 01, 2018

My Rating: 3 Stars

*I received an e-arc from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review*

When I first heard this book was a retelling of Jane Eyre in space, I knew I had to read it. Have I read Jane Eyre? No, but it’s on my TBR and I figured this book would give me the push I need to read that classic. It did that, but only because I’m thinking Jane Eyre would be a little bit better than Brightly Burning. This book was a whirlwind ride. It was really all over the place. There were parts all throughout the book, including the ending, that I sped read through, and parts that I took my time for fear of missing something. I really felt that some parts were written really well and others felt as though the author just needed to add filler.

Let’s start with the negatives. My first and main concern about the plot is that Hugo, the love interest, is an alcoholic. And he never stops being one. Maybe it was implied in the ending? But I feel as though the author should have put an obvious stop to that. As someone who has dealt with alcoholism within my extended family, I know how devastating the effects are. It’s truly awful. (Don’t worry, I’m not getting on a soap box.) So, yes, the author really needed a stronger plot point to end his drinking.

Honestly, none of the characters were really interesting enough for me to want to keep reading the book. Stella was dry and Hugo was basically a martyr without cause. Yes, his family was messed up but he himself wasn’t. So I didn’t really understand his martyrdom. And their relationship lacked critical communication. Hugo just kept assuming Stella would know his motives. And Stella had a love / hate relationship with him until the end where she apparently always loved him and never stopped… Even though she said she hated him a couple times… It was really the plot and mystery behind the Rochester that kept bringing me back.

The story as a whole, was very interesting. The ships can’t sustain life anymore, earth is covered in an ice age, and underneath it all there is a sinister mystery going on. I kind of guessed what was happening on the Rochester, but it was more than what I thought, if that makes sense. I didn’t think big enough. And I was happily surprised. It was the creepiness of the laughter and people almost dying abroad the ship that kept bringing me back to read. And once I found out the scope of the situation, things picked up. Without giving anything away, the ending was my favorite part. It’s where all the action happens and where you don’t know who is going to live or die. I love that kind of suspense.

Final Take: I liked this book. Y’all know 3 stars for me is a liked book. I thought the characters were boring but the plot interesting enough for me to keep wanting to read. I thought the author did a good job making the book feel completed without added questions. It has a satisfying conclusion. I liked it enough to want to check out more of her work in the future. 

Happy Adventuring! 

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