Book Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Book: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Published May 2018 by HMH Books For Young Readers|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Re-telling

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.

I really liked this one.  It’s a Jane Eyre re-telling, and though it’s been ages since I’ve read Jane Eyre, I still remembered just enough to recognize it as a Jane Eyre re-telling.  I think, even if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, it’s a pretty interesting and good read.

If you like Across The Universe by Beth Revis, I think you’ll really like this one.  I was reminded of it the entire time I was reading this book, and I liked seeing the fleet of spaceships just waiting to get back to earth.  Brightly Burning isn’t really an exploration of earth or space or trying to find a place to live like Across The Universe is, but it’s still an interesting and intriguing read.

I think I was surprised it was a stand-alone.  I think I assumed it would be the first of a trilogy, and there are a lot of questions that aren’t answered.  There are a lot of things I’m curious about, like the fleet sent up to orbit Earth because of an ice-age.  How did we end up in an Ice Age?  How did they decide who would get sent up on spaceships?  Were there people left to die on Earth?  It’s never really explained (and if it was, then it obviously didn’t stick).  I did like the references to movies and books (like The Sound Of Music, which is the only one I’m remembering right now), and it’s clear that that some of the more…pop culture-y things did make their way to space (and hopefully back to earth).

I’m always hesitant with stand-alone sci-books (and also stand-alone paranormal and fantasy books) because I’m always nervous that I’ll be really confused about the world and what’s going on.  Sometimes, one book doesn’t seem like enough to build a world, but I thought we got a really good sense of Stella’s world and what it was like becoming a governess on the Rochester.  And while I did want more of her story, particularly with how things ended, I’m also glad that it was only one book.  Maybe the fact that it’s Jane Eyre in space made it work as a stand-alone.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and the combination of Jane Eyre and space worked really well together.  I do wish I knew more about the ice age that led to us going up to space, and what things are like on earth, but overall, I thought that we got a really good sense of Stella’s world that I didn’t mind that a lot of my questions weren’t answered.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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