Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

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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.

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. SmallTitle: Bright Burning Stars
Author: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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❃ 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. ❃

Review: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

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 Perspectives

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.

❀ A Dark Read

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small 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.

About A.K. Small

A.K. Small

A. K. Small was born in Paris, France. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States, where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.

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About The Candid Cover

Olivia ❀ Canadian YA book blogger, Starbucks lover, & professional bibliophile.

15 thoughts on “Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

  1. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books says:

    Lovely review! I recently read this one and was surprised by how dark it was, as well, but I loved how it explored friendship and how complex the relationship between the two main characters was, too 🙂
    Thank you for sharing! 😀

  2. Jaime Lynn says:

    WOWza, that cover! it is phenomenal. It immediately grabbed my attention and made me want to read this and now! Good on you, cover designers! Now, normally, a book about dancing wouldn’t capture my interest, but thanks to the cover drawing me in, the dead body and the boy dubbed Demigod, I am interested, for sure!

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