I was sent this beautiful book by the lovely Tara Sonin at HMH Teen. Thank you Tara! Seriously guys, the folks at HMH Teen are so kind and are one of the few publishers who send ARCs internationally. I appreciate you guys <3
Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.
But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.
Let's start with the characters. Stella is a truly awesome character - she's likable and spunky and it's easy to live inside her head and see things her way. I would have loved to see more about her being an engineer, but we got to see lots of her life as a teacher, and her interactions with her pupils were gold. I loved her relationship with Jessa in particular! Jessa is even more sassy and is one of the strongest kids I have read about. She particularly reminded me of Kitty from the To All the Boys I've Loved Before - she knows what she wants and she will not be dissuaded. I also adored the characters of Jon and George - Stella's male best friends. Especially Jon - it was awesome to see a plantonic girl-boy friendship with such character. I loved it!
Hugo was the perfect brooding love interest - he's the perfect balance of mysterious and charming, and he treats Stella like a princess. The romance has just the perfect amount of angst and problems to make you root for Stella and Hugo, but not enough to make you give up on them completely.
The Rochester was an awesome setting for most of the book! A spaceship with incredible meals, a massive library and CATS!? Sign me up!!!! I also, I loved all the interstellar travel and technology in the book - I feel like the world was really well planned out and there was no point in the book in which I felt the technology was unrealistic or silly.
As we got to the last 100 pages or so, things became really exciting and the story definately ramped up a notch. The reveals were well executed and and I had to keep turning the pages. The best part was the epilogue. Obviously, I can't reveal much for fear of spoiling you, but it was so so worth it. I'm so impressed, given that Donne is a debut author. I can't wait to read what she writes in the future. This wasn't a new favourite of all time, but it certainly was great fun, and one I would definatley reread in the future.
My only criticism is that I didn't feel as connected to the story as I might have liked, and I didn't really get the Jane-Eyre aspect of the story. I feel like this was more of a "me problem" though, and I'm sure if I had read Jane Eyre recently, I would have enjoyed the parallels.
Final thoughts: Fast paced and thrilling, Brightly Burning is swoon worthy romance which deserves a spot on any sci-fi lover's shelves.
- "With the sunset at our backs, and despite the coat I wore, a chill set into my spine."
- "A new warmth overcame me, like when my parents used to envelop me in thier arms, whispering comforts into my hair. I felt acceptance and freedom to be myself. And a hint of something else, not familial at all. A flame of desir, which I tampered down but feared I could not extinguish, now that it had been lit.:
Are you guys as excited for this one to be released as I am? Seriously, it's so worth the wait. I'll be purchasing a shiny finished copy for my shelves as soon as it's out. Let me know your thoughts!