Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Date of publication: May 21st, 2019
Genre: Young Adult
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
I am going to start this review with a trigger warning. This is needed because of some content in the book. There are abortion, anorexia, and drug use in the book. Also, there are scenes of forced sexual contact for the drugs. If you are triggered in any way by those, I would recommend not to read the book.
Bright Burning Stars is a dark book. I wasn’t expecting it to address what I talked about in the above paragraph. I was taken aback and surprised by that. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. I have read books where abortion, anorexia, and drug use have run rampant. What surprised me was how calm the characters were about this stuff. That includes the adults. I was left shaking my head after some scenes.
I was shocked that Kate and Marine’s friendship lasted as long as it did. Their friendship was an anomaly in a world where competition and being the best was everything. Kate’s relationship (for lack of a better word) with the Demigod started the end of their friendship. Everything after that added fire to the flames.
I learned more than I ever wanted to know about ballet. I knew that it was a very competitive dance. I knew that there were schools dedicated to it. What I didn’t realize was that the girls were held to an impossible standard. They had weight checks. That breakdowns, drug use, and suicide were common. I shouldn’t have been shocked by what the book revealed. But I was.
I wasn’t sure if I liked the final chapter of the book. In a way, everyone got what they wanted. It didn’t sit right with me. But then again, with what Marine did and what Kate threatened to do, it went well with what the book was about.
I did like the book. But I wasn’t expecting the book to be so dark. I also wasn’t expecting the triggers. I also don’t think that Bright Burning Stars should be for young adults. New Adult, maybe. Young adult, no. Those are the reasons why I rated the book a 3.5 rating.
I would give Bright Burning Stars an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.
I would reread Bright Burning Stars I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**