Book Review

Book Review: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

42288387._SY475_Title: Bright Burning Stars
Author: A.K. Small
My Rating: 3.5/5
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publish Date: May 21 2019
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 304 pages
Edition: Kindle Edition
Synopsis: 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.

In my previous Top Ten Tuesday post, I’ve talked about how I like to see more boarding schools, ballet schools and such because they remind me of Fame (the movie) and my childhood. Although, my childhood was not really that dramatic. Back to the book, Bright Burning Stars follows the story of two young ballet students, Marine Duval and Kate Sanders in their final year at the Ballet Academy. In order to get to the next level, professional level, they must win The Prize which is awarded to the best male and female ballet student. This book offers readers the darker side of ballet – the competitive nature of ballet and the prize in which ballerinas pay in order to become the winner in that competitive setting.

This book is written in an alternating point of views – that of Marine and Kate. Despite being best friends, there was a point in the story that Marine and Kate are not doing the exact same thing. They were best friends but at the same time, they were competing with each other as well as with other ballerinas. It portrayed a realistic scenario. I mean, there will be always a time you and your best friend don’t agree with each other and do different activities from each other.

It’s not Would You die for The Prize. It’s Would You die if you don’t get The Prize.” 

Since there was an alternating point of views, I was expecting to get to know more about the characters. But I felt that despite the alternating point of views, I think that the characters lack character. In my opinion, the character development for me was lacking. There were issues that were brought up that I think could shape the character in to a more holistic one. Speaking of issues, it is important to know that there were lots of triggers such as drugs, abortion, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and eating disorders.

“It’s about letting your personality fly wild” , he said, breathless. “You and I are like purebred horses, we dance for energy. We burst from the stables and illuminate.” 

On a brighter side, the book was written quite okay. The dance scenes were described vividly to the point I felt I was there watching them dance. There were quite few ballet jargons and French phrases in the books. However, most of it are explained in a beautiful worded proses so no need to worry. Contrary to the beautiful worded descriptions of the dances, I felt that the conversations between characters were lacking personalities which may be the cause or the effect of having bland characters. The characters were so bland that they talk about bland things despite them being in an extravagant setting.


“You have to fall in love with the girl to become the right partner. Not vice versa.”

Speaking of setting, I really loved the setting. The ballet school was really nice. It is rare to see such books with such settings. In addition to that, there were certain “urban legends” in some places in the school and that the places such as their classrooms wherein they train was really described well.

rating 3.5

Overall, I give this book 3 and a half bees. I felt that it had more potential especially with the characters. It’s like I’m seeing the big stage and everything was done neatly but it comes to a point that it becomes surgical like there’s no personality in it anymore. Aside from that, I think that there is no diversity among the characters but at least it touched some issues such as those with regards to mental health. If you like this, you might as well give You in Five Acts by Una Lamarche or Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. 

let's talk

Have you read Bright Burning Stars? What are your thoughts on it? Let me hear!

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