Review by Jasmine Sov, 13

Brightly Burning Edited by Alexa Donne

Alexa Donne’s reimagined future space version of the popular classic Jane Eyre, Brightly Burning, follows the story of Stella Ainsley, a teenage orphan living in poverty and working an engineering job aboard the Stalwart. But when she relocates to the private ship Rochester to become a governess, she is swept away in a world of splendor and decadence, or at least by interstellar standards. However, the Rochester has its secrets, with the reserved nature of the ship’s captain, Hugo, and the sudden appearance of the glamorous Bianca Ingram. After Stella discovers that the ship may be involved in a gargantuan conspiracy that could cause the fall of the whole interstellar fleet, she must trust her instincts and decide whether to follow her head or her heart.
Though mostly faithful to the original plot of Jane Eyre, Brightly Burning’s protagonist, Stella seems slightly clichéd. Like many YA sci-fi protagonists, she is highly capable of quick thinking, even excelling at the skill. She is a poor girl plucked out of the slums and dropped in the lap of luxury. (This is where the plot seems to fluctuate away from the original Jane Eyre.) And gorgeous girl Bianca still doesn’t outshine her when it comes to her romantic relationship with Captain Hugo. He’s also a character fitting the contentions of a certain commonly used trope: the tsundere. A tsundere is a person who is initially cold, but later becomes warm and caring. Captain Hugo, with his brooding character and drinking problem, is most certainly an unerring tsundere.
I felt that the book had a large overuse of tropes. If the author had made the characters a little more original and less clichéd, then I would have thought this book a quite nice re-envisioning of Jane Eyre. Some of the characters are also too underdeveloped, such as Iris Xiao, who I think deserves more attention other than being a caretaker of Jessa, Stella’s charge.
The ending is hard to follow. Most YA sci-fi endings are packed with action, but this particular ending seems to contain an abundance of Stella’s bumbling thoughts. Paired with the running around, the time squeeze, and everyone else shouting, it makes for a very confusing wrap-up. I had to go back and read some paragraphs again in order to understand the full ending.
I’d rate this stand-alone novel at 2.5 stars.

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Catalog Number: YA SF DONNE, A

394 pages

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