I like this book more than I care to admit.
Look, I’ll be honest: you could set anything in space, and I’ll all but guarantee I’ll like it. Once you consider the grand scope of things, YA books set in space are this teeny tiny group, and I am always, always there for a story set among the stars, because there are so few of them.
And I realize that this is not really an endorsement of this book, right? I’ll pick up, and probably love, any space story you throw at me. I was sure of that even before starting BRIGHTLY BURNING.
And yet here I stand at 3 stars.
It’s not a matter of what went wrong so much as what went right – please remember that a 3 star rating is a good rating from me, meaning I liked it … ish – and what little complaints I have against BB are entirely subjective. For the most part. I think what I’m trying to say is, it could have been worse.
Again, not an exactly an endorsement. Look, I’m conflicted on this rating, honestly. This was fluctuating wildly – some of my blogger friends liked it, others didn’t, and I’m not seeing a fellow meh opinion, so here I am. And I’ll try to explain what went right, and what didn’t.
I actually rather liked Stella Ainsely, our MC. She’s sort of thrust into the midst of the craziness without really meaning to, and if it were up to her, she’d be sketching on her tablet and teaching little kids and eyeing the pretty boys on board (but no, seriously: there were tons and tons and tons of descriptions of pretty, distracting boys that I could have honestly done without, but I digress). She’s not a fighter, not a revolutionary. I like that, really. Normal people FTW.
Hugo, the love interest, was meh. Nineteen. Captain of at least two ships. And, frankly, a drunkard. But no, really. If you, as a reader, were to drink every time Hugo did, then, well, you wouldn’t be remembering much of the book. I’m sorry, but how am I expected to ship these two when every other interaction is filled with mindless chatter and much, much booze? Not the healthiest relationship out there, surely. But it was there, and I could swallow it. So there’s that, I guess.
As for the rest of the cast … … some I liked, some I didn’t, some were meh. I did love Jessa, the 11-year-old, because she was pure and sweet and innocent. The rest? Not so much. I would advise authors, though, to please please PLEASE not to have two characters named Jon and Joy, because that was hell on my eyes to read.
And while we’re on the naming subject, let it be known that I hate made up curse words with a fiery passion. ‘Frex’ was the word here, in case you wonder, and while I myself do not cuss nor do I like to hear cussing, I’d much MUCH rather see the actual words spelled out clear as day rather than … frex. Which is ridiculous, but it is what it is.
Plot wise, though, this was fantastic. It’s addicting, okay? Even when I could probably predict how things would play out, I was still reading this like it was my job. And it did absolutely help that the events were short and snappy and laid one after another. Kudos for being unputdownable.
What did irritate me, though, was how one character played it out to be a giant plot device, and nothing more. Not. Realistic. At. All. Their personality did a complete 180 when it was their time, ie, when it was convenient, and I just … *shakes head*. I don’t like seeing the trail an author makes when they plot, guys. This part, which I am leaving intentionally vague for fear of spoilers, was clumsy. And that’s upsetting, because everything was going so well.
As for the Jane Eyre retelling part… don’t hate me, but I didn’t read the original. My bad. I know enough of the story to figure out what plot point was what, mind you, but let it be known as a disclaimer of sorts that I did not actually pick up a copy of Jane Eyre myself before this. All I know of the original plot is by word of mouth and such.
All in all? A solid space-y action-y novel. Though I struggled with letting some plot issues slide, I found this book waaaay more fun that I ought to. Space stories FTW.
Thank you, HMH, for the ARC!