Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Books about dance and ballet are so compelling; it is a strict discipline that requires physical and intellectual fortitude. Add into the mix the usual blend of angst and poor decision making found in your typical young adult book, with a dash of cutthroat competition, and you have BRIGHT BURNING STARS: a book about a prestigious ballet school near Paris where failure means elimination, and success means sacrificing everything.

Marine and Kate are best friends. Marine is French, Kate is American. They've been close since their first year of ballet school, and now it is their last and only one boy and one girl will walk away with the coveted "Prize," a ticket to professional ballet. Everyone else will go home. Both girls want to be the best, but one of them wants it more than the other. As tensions rise, and each girl becomes a speeding train fighting to outpace the other to careen off a cliff and into a fiery finish, the reader can't help but wonder: will their friendship survive? And will they?

I finished BRIGHT BURNING STARS in a single day. It's beautifully written and both girls are realistically flawed. It actually reminded me a lot of WHITE OLEANDER in some ways - toxic relationships, substance abuse, destructive behavior, and sex, all drowning in angst and exquisitely wrought prose. There's trigger warnings across the board, but if you can stomach the dark content, the writing and the storyline, which is basically the ballerina equivalent of THE HUNGER GAMES, totally make the struggle worth it.

Oh, and there's beautiful boys, too, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. The main boy, who ends up involved with both girls, is nicknamed "the Demigod" for his dancing and romantic prowess, and his name is Cyrille. Everyone in the school has put him on a pedestal, but that only means that he has farther to fall. Luc is a mysterious boy who seems more earnest and tender than most, but he's got his own inner demons and reasons for competing. And lastly, there's Benjamin, another bad boy, only he's got tattoos and is more of a devil than a god, if you get me.

BRIGHT BURNING STARS has everything I enjoy in a young adult novel, and while it doesn't exactly espouse feminist principles, I gloried in the high drama and illicit romance. I think this is a book that could just as easily be enjoyed by adults, as well as teens - I certainly did.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

4.5 out of 5 stars

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