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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI 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 …

Brightly Burning

by Alexa Donne

Overall Book Review:

Author Alexa Donne’s debut novel is a skyrocket adventure that takes note from a familiar classic and turns it on its head. Say hello to Jane Eyre in space, or as it’s aptly titled, Brightly Burring. Wait, Jane Eyre in space? Yes, you read that right. While fairy-tale retellings have been all the rage, thank you Marissa Meyer, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been retold over and over again, other well-known literature retellings are beginning to bloom, and they just may be the next big thing.

Protagonist Stella takes readers to the stars as this space odyssey is told in first person narrative. And this girl is no plain Jane, having some very cool mechanical and artistic skills as well as a spirited character that makes for a well-rounded individual for readers to attach themselves to. As with its inspired work, our heroine is not the only complex character, enter Hugo Fairfax, this story’s Mr. Rochester; he is brooding, mysterious, a bit of a spoiled brat, and at an impasse, especially when it comes to Stella.

No climate control here; the romance keeps gothic, while everything else gets a jumpstart, namely the futuristic settings, the eccentric intrigue, and the versatility of the secondary characters—all which help move the story along and keep things from getting stagnant. 

Sci-fi fans who also appreciate the classics may very well fall in love with this reimagining, especially admirers of The Lunar Chronicles, and The Luminae Files.  

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by HMH Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  6 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 3 scatological terms. 

Violence/Gore:  Reports of death; mention of mother committing suicide (2x); few jokes involving violence/ playful violence; adult remembers being threatened as a child; character discovers a dead animal, blood mentioned; character recollects how their parent killed the other parent; extended scene (about 1 page) character saves another character from a fire set intentionally; report of 19-year-old being charged with being drunk and disorderly; character sees injured character receive care; description of violent attack; revelation of attempted murder; government plans mass murder by bioweapon; statements of government official threatening civilians; character is arrested roughly; threat with weapon; extended scene (about ½ page ) government official shoots an unarmed civilian, blood and injury mentioned; reports of injured character(s); character is severely burned and must receive treatment. 

Sex/Nudity:  A few sexual reference jokes; mentions of marrying and breeding at a young age; a few romantic notions; unsuccessful drunk kiss; joke of male having a mistress; male and female sit close, male rests hand on female’s thigh; female lays their head on male’s bare chest noting his is only in his underwear; report of character being gay and dating; female talks about being attracted to a male; character is rumored to be bi-sexual and paying for sex; male and female announce they are a couple; 17-year-old and 19- year-old become engaged; several instances of flirting; few brief kisses, hand holding, embrace; report of character spending money on prostitution; extended scene (about 1 page) descriptive kiss; extended scene (about 2 pages) kissing, female straddles male in chair; extended scene (about 2 pages) intense flirting with kiss.

Mature Subject Matter:

Psychosis, bio-logical warfare, socio-economic inequality, government corruption, murder, murder of spouse. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

19-year-old drinks alcoholic drinks throughout novel; drinking by teens and adults is done throughout novel; character is sedated.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.