Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small is a book that tells the story of a fierce competition at a school for ballet, and it does not shy away from any details. The novel is pretty dark, but I was intrigued by the characters’ dilemmas and determination to win. This is a realistic story with developed characters and eloquent writing.Title: Bright Burning Stars
Author: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
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 received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Book Review: Bright Burning Stars
As a fan of both books set in boarding school and books about dance, I had a feeling I would enjoy this one when I first heard of it. The book follows two best friends as they compete for “the prize” at the end of their training. Essentially, winning the competition allows the winner to pursue their dream, and thus the students will do whatever it takes. The story delves into the fierce and competitive aspects of the dance world, and I was a little surprised at how dark it is. However, I think this is what makes the book so realistic, and the discussion of heavier topics adds complexity.
❀ Dual Perspective
It is interesting to follow both Kate and Marine through their journey to the prize. As best friends competing, they must decide if they value their friendship or first place, and their relationship deteriorates over the course of the year. I loved getting both of their perspectives as it offers so much insight into their individual characters as well as mutual experiences. Both Kate and Marine are developed, and each girl faces massive hurdles that she must overcome on top of the excruciating training at the school. I personally enjoyed Marine’s character more as I don’t agree with some of the decisions Kate makes towards the end, but that may be what is intended.
❀ Gorgeous Descriptions
One of the most notable aspects of the novel is the gorgeous descriptions of dance. It is easy to feel the author’s passion for the subject while reading. To me, reading about the characters’ movements creates immersion, and it is easy to become lost in the story. While there are many ballet terms and French words included, I wouldn’t say that knowledge of ballet is required to get the full experience of the work. Instead, it is a bit of a learning experience and a glimpse into the life of a dancer.
Bright Burning Stars is a dark read about unhealthy competition at a ballet school. I found the main characters’ relationship interesting, and the writing is so vivid. I would recommend this one to those with an interest in dance as I feel like this book provides an accurate portrayal.