Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Brightly BurningStella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stewart to become a governess on a private ship. One the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AL who seems more friend than robot.

But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella forges a warm connection with the brooding but kind, nineteen-year-old Capetian Hugo. But as they grow closer, his unpredictable behavior causes suspicion to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.

Alexa Donne’s breathtaking debut will seduce and beguile you, a story perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Amie Kaufman. 

4 Stars

Science Fiction | Romance | Young Adult | Retelling

***Received the ARC from Alexa Donne during her YouTube Giveaway***

What makes a kickass retelling amaze-balls? Simple… take a classic and turn it into a compelling premise – Jane Eyre in space. Abso-freaking-lutely, please sign me because I need this story in my life and I need it now. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, I will watch it or reread it at any given time. So tickle my pickle surprised when I saw this come though, I had to give it a go!

Brightly Burning honestly never had a dull moment for me, I was intrigued from start to finish. The world building was absolutely phenomenal. I was completely enamored by everything. When I first thought – Jane Eyre in space I was really curious how the world building would be different from the original. I know, stop comparing, but that is the best part of a retelling – you don’t watch a novel to movie adaption without comparing, so why not compare a retelling? There is definite atmosphere similarities that are interesting but what I enjoyed is how the differences ventured into an entirely new set up. Not only that, but taking a science fiction genre with dystopian factor really just gets my goats. The Stewartis a place of poverty then the Rochesteris more gratifying in its surroundings. Once Stella moves between space crafts, the atmosphere change is beyond beautifully descriptive. Key elements of the living conditions are both descriptive for the reader but as well for how it affects the cast. Everything really aids to the imagination for a reader in terms of the world building. 

Aside from the amazing set up, the characters were brilliant. Hugo was the perfect blend of brooding, mystery and downright charismatic character. I thought he was both complex yet simple at the root, he was definitely interesting with a dash of mystery. And as for Stella, I really liked her overall. Her personality was witty, she definitely spoke what she was thinking, and really sharp female lead. Definitely not what I was expecting when I thought retelling, and to be honest I liked Stella’s personalty more than the original. She was timid and quiet, yet spoke her mind and was extremely direct. I liked it. 

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Hugo and Stella. Their connection was unpredictable yet had a undertone of predictability. As a reader you can kind of tell where the relationship is building towards, which is great, it is definitely what I wanted. There was honestly such a great connection that was built on a type of mutual respect and interest in one another that aided in their overall chemistry. It didn’t just happen, it was developed over time. This is great factor in my opinion because the romance doesn’t outshine the science fiction aspect nor does it take a backseat to the overall twist in plot, the situations play off one another to aid the flow of the story. 

However, in the mix of all my gushing, there is a slight pet peeve I have between some of the plot that kind of bugged me, really it is what keeps this from being a 5 STAR read. For starters, I have no understanding why there was even a George. I understand his purpose towards the beginning of the novel to have a slight love interest, but honestly he was pointless supporting cast. I actually think Stella’s counterpoint Karlson could have taken on George’s role or even better yet, no beginning love interest at all would have been sufficient. Just seemed rather pointless. I promise this makes more sense once you read it but I do not want to spoil. My other issue I have is the main conflict between Hugo and Stella. The conflict between them was really powerful climatic twist, it had depth but the resolve happened almost too fast, it was like it sped through to get to the ending. Completely rushed. Though I loved the resolve, I would have liked more juice in the mix. With the growth between Hugo and Stella throughout the novel that was really intriguing, it just felt their tension near the ending was little lack luster. It really let me down…

Overall, I loved this novel. Donne did a fantastic job of the retelling for Jane Eyre in this capacity. The adaption was beyond beautiful; it definitely was clever, fun, hell of a creative plot all wrapped into one. Not only did Donne take the original version backbone, she incorporated her own mix with the science fiction twist.  The balance with the dystopian sci-fi blend with the romance was perfection. From the world building to the character dynamics, I was hooked. I will definitely be on the look out for future works from Alexa Donne.

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