Bright Burning Stars
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.

Bright Burning Stars Details

TitleBright Burning Stars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 21st, 2019
PublisherAlgonquin Young Readers
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Bright Burning Stars Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Marine and Kate have attended the Paris Opera Ballet School since they were tiny. The two are the best of friends and have bonded over tragedy and dance. Just before their final year of school, a student is found murdered. This makes the girls question how far they would go to win. Winning means being selected to join the corps de ballet. There are many desperate options.Each girl gets closer to the top placed male dancer…this happens at the same time.Selection day approaches, and the girls are Marine and Kate have attended the Paris Opera Ballet School since they were tiny. The two are the best of friends and have bonded over tragedy and dance. Just before their final year of school, a student is found murdered. This makes the girls question how far they would go to win. Winning means being selected to join the corps de ballet. There are many desperate options.Each girl gets closer to the top placed male dancer…this happens at the same time.Selection day approaches, and the girls are now competing for both this guy and the corps. Their friendship lies in the balance. Bright Burning Stars captures the drama and cattiness that can occur behind the scenes in dance troupes. I took dance several years ago, and I remember the competition amongst dancers. It was fierce! The author was a dancer, and she has plenty of insight and real-life experience adding to this novel and making it feel even more authentic. Bright Burning Stars is a book about competition versus friendship, and how to win and have it all, we may have to lose those closest to us. Is it ever worth the sacrifice?I loved how the tension mounted as the corps selection approached. I felt an anxiety along with the characters. I intuited the pressure that each dancer feels, through their painful feet, all the way to their shaking hands. Overall, I found Bright Burning Stars to be an exciting and dramatic read. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
    more
  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    ᏗᏬᏖᏂᏋᏁᏖᎥፈ. ᏗᏰᏕᎧᏒᏰᎥᏁᎶ. ᎴᏗᏒᏦ. A.K. Small’s debut is authentic, absorbing, and dark. Marine and Kate have trained their entire lives to be ballet dancers. They are attending an elite ballet school in Paris. A rigorous competitive program with weekly rankings and only one female and one mail dancer earning a spot in the company at the end of it all. Kate and Marine have always been the best of friends, but can their friendship survive as the competition gets hotter?“What would you do for the prize?“ ᏗᏬᏖᏂᏋᏁᏖᎥፈ. ᏗᏰᏕᎧᏒᏰᎥᏁᎶ. ᎴᏗᏒᏦ. A.K. Small’s debut is authentic, absorbing, and dark. Marine and Kate have trained their entire lives to be ballet dancers. They are attending an elite ballet school in Paris. A rigorous competitive program with weekly rankings and only one female and one mail dancer earning a spot in the company at the end of it all. Kate and Marine have always been the best of friends, but can their friendship survive as the competition gets hotter?“What would you do for the prize?“ The competition, the pain, the stress, it was all so intense. Marine had amazing musicality and danced for her twin brother Ollie who had passed away. Kate has tremendous passion and a fire in her belly that was fueled when her mother abandoned her. Both girls had likable and not so likable qualities. I felt for them because they were living such a competitive life. I’d imagine being judged and raided every single week would lead to tremendous jealousy. There was always that nagging question of what would you do? How far would you go? The girls had even created a game around it, but at some point it’s as though the game turned into reality. This book also addressed many serious issues such as eating disorders, depression, abortion, obsession, and drug use. I applaud the author for taking these issues on, I’m sure they are prevalent in the dance world. However, I kind of felt as though these issues were just glossed over with no real resolution or consequence. This is a young adult book and I do want to make it clear that these issues were also not glorified, they just probably needed some more comprehensive discussion. My daughter was a competitive dancer (yes I was a dance mom) certainly not at this level, but I did find a lot of this very relatable. Made me wonder though how this would appeal to people without much dance knowledge? There is a lot of dance terminology, not that you need to know it to understand the book. But this is a book about dance, the dance world, the dancers, end it is dark. And it is real. And it is raw. Just like the dancers leave it all on the stage, Miss Small left it all on the pages of this book.*** many thanks to Algonquin for my copy of this book ***
    more
  • Alana • thebookishchick
    January 1, 1970
    “What would you do for the prize?"Well...for starters I was not expecting this to be as dark as it was, however, that made it all the more difficult to put this one down.  Ever since I watched Black Swan years ago I became super intrigued at how cutthroat the ballet/dance world is. The time and dedication dancers put into perfecting their look, their body, and their moves is both amazing and horrifying at times to see the lengths some of these dancers will go to. This book absolutely nailed that “What would you do for the prize?"Well...for starters I was not expecting this to be as dark as it was, however, that made it all the more difficult to put this one down.  Ever since I watched Black Swan years ago I became super intrigued at how cutthroat the ballet/dance world is. The time and dedication dancers put into perfecting their look, their body, and their moves is both amazing and horrifying at times to see the lengths some of these dancers will go to. This book absolutely nailed that fine line of amazement and horror.Marine and Kate, are both dancers at Nanterre, think a super elite dance school in Paris. Initially, Marine and Kate make a pact that they will do everything they can to win the Prize together, which essentially is an opportunity for the best dancer to join the dance company. But as the competition gets closer the girls know only one of them will make it and both of them will do whatever it takes to win that spot, even if it means ruining their friendship. I can't say that I was smitten by either of the characters because they're really not lovable people and I wasn't rooting for one more than the other, however, due to how fast paced this book is I still found myself racing to see how it ends regardless of not really loving either of the girls.Now, on to how dark this book got! First and foremost, please know that this paragraph will be about the trigger warnings in this book, but some may also find these to be semi-spoilery - so please read at your own risk. This book tackles some heavy issues, ones that I was not expecting to be so severe but I'm sure are also a very common thing in the competitive dance world. For me personally, these did not change the way I felt about the book but in fact made the story that much more compelling and left me desperate to know how it ends. Some of the topics you can expect in this book are drug use, abortion, grief of a loved one, parental abandonment, eating disorders, suicide/suicide attempt, and body dysmorphia. So yeah, some pretty heavy stuff and while at first I was nervous how this was all going to be handled I do have to say that it definitely does take a more positive turn in the end.While I won't give away the ending just know I was extremely happy with it. Books that tackle heavy topics like this and end on an open ended note have a special place in my heart. All in all, this was a fantastic debut and I absolutely cannot wait to read more by this author. As a dancer herself you can tell how much of her heart and soul she poured into this book to bring it to life. Bright Burning Stars is out now and definitely deserves a spot on your TBR. Trust me, you won't be able to put this one down.Thank you to Alqonquin Young Readers for reaching out and inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!Blog | Twitter | Instagram
    more
  • Amy Imogene Reads
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsHappy Pub Day!Bright Burning Stars is compelling, feverish, and claustrophobically competitive—but its trigger warnings and character arcs were hard for me. This is the case of a story that was written well, described well, and covered a unique place setting in YA....but ultimately did not work for me to due its handling of dark themes.Setting: ★★★★★Pacing: ★★★ 1/2Characters: ★★★ 1/2Compelling factor: ★★★★Discussion of problematic topics: I did not like certain elements.I've included a 3.5 starsHappy Pub Day!Bright Burning Stars is compelling, feverish, and claustrophobically competitive—but its trigger warnings and character arcs were hard for me. This is the case of a story that was written well, described well, and covered a unique place setting in YA....but ultimately did not work for me to due its handling of dark themes.Setting: ★★★★★Pacing: ★★★ 1/2Characters: ★★★ 1/2Compelling factor: ★★★★Discussion of problematic topics: I did not like certain elements.I've included a concise list of the trigger warnings at the end of my review. Please read both that list and the spoilers included below to get a full description on the warnings listed.Bright Burning Stars follows the split POVs of two best friends, Kate and Marine, who are enrolled in their final year as Division One students at an elite ballet training school in Paris, France. Division One is ruthless, cutthroat, and unrelenting in its drive to win—at the end of the year, only one boy and one girl receive the Prize out of the handful of final year students. Enter the unhealthy competitiveness of the ballet industry that is forever immortalized in narratives such as Black Swan, etc.Kate and Marine immediately bonded when they met at the start of their training, and we're made to believe that their friendship is a solid bedrock of shared experience and almost-sisterly love. It's not a healthy relationship from the start.Kate and Marine find themselves dealing with their own individual insecurities and disorders over the course of the year in their drive to win the final Prize. In addition to their own struggles to succeed among tough instructors and fellow students, there is also a fellow student named Cirille—nicknamed the Demigod—who both girls become entwined with both romantically and professionally. It's not a perfect love triangle (it's actually pretty unique), but it's there in concept.KATE is intensely jealous, insecure, and manipulative—she uses her relationship with Marine to make herself feel better, no matter the cost. There are implications made to imply that Kate's emotional responses to situations are a mental illness, but there is never a formal diagnosis discussed and in my opinion, it fell into some problematic descriptions. Kate needs the approval of others and the feeling of success at the expense of those around her. In addition to blurring the lines of the professional and the friendly, Kate also has deep-seated insecurities that manifest romantically in an incredibly unhealthy way—but more on that later. MARINE used to have a twin, but he passed away tragically and left her with the self-imposed burden of completing his dream of making it in the Parisian ballet scene without him. Marine is not "naturally thin" (whatever that means in this context, as she obviously is quite trim by default as a ballet student). Due to the nature of ballet and the frequent weigh-ins, discussions of weight, and etc., Marine's insecurity about her size takes an unhealthy turn as she attempts to internally compete with the thinner ballet students through an eating disorder that develops over the course of the novel. I honestly didn't mind several aspects of the story, including the lack of descriptions, inconsistent pacing, and underdeveloped side characters. To me, this interesting use of narrative focus provided a clear window into the self-obsessed worlds of Kate and Marine, and I was on board. BUT I did have several problems with the execution of Kate and Marie's character arcs and the resolutions that occurred for each of them. This is not a wholesome novel, filled with happy endings. Like life it is messy, not always politically correct, and leaves you wanting more of an ending. On the one hand, I loved that it did not shy away from the hard truths and dark topics it was addressing. The writing was good, and the plot was unputdownable. I literally could not stop reading this story. However, I really struggled with the handling of several of the issues discussed. I think Bright Burning Stars was here to share its truth in a raw, unflinching light—and it definitely succeeded. It just was not a favorite for me. Trigger Warnings: (view spoiler)[Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, abortion, mental illness, mentions of previous suicides, discussion of suicide, attempted suicide, substance abuse, dubious sexual consent, improper descriptions of mental illness, unhealthy coping techniques as a result of the not-identified mental illness, disturbing portrayals of romantic relationships, emotionally abusive internal dialogue, emotionally abusive relationships, toxic friendships. (hide spoiler)]*****Original notes: Ahhhhh it’s coming out this month! I should probably read the ARC now, yeah? Can’t wait to dive into the cutthroat world of the Paris Opera Ballet in this YA.Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Kristy K
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with this cover and was eager to read this book. I love books with dance in them and thought this would offer a good glimpse into the competitiveness of ballet. However, I have never been a fan of toxic female relationships; there are few books I've read where I thought that was done successfully. Unfortunately, there was a lot of problematic issues that stemmed from Marine and Kate's friendship and not all were handled well.Bright Burning Stars touches on ballet culture, eating d I fell in love with this cover and was eager to read this book. I love books with dance in them and thought this would offer a good glimpse into the competitiveness of ballet. However, I have never been a fan of toxic female relationships; there are few books I've read where I thought that was done successfully. Unfortunately, there was a lot of problematic issues that stemmed from Marine and Kate's friendship and not all were handled well.Bright Burning Stars touches on ballet culture, eating disorders, abortion, and toxic relationships (both friendship and romantic). It was a lot of serious topics, probably too many to tackle in one book, and I wasn't a fan of how many were handled. I wish they would have been explored in more detail and fleshed out better. I received an advanced copy from Algonquin Young Readers in return for an honest review.
    more
  • Sherwood Smith
    January 1, 1970
    In my own mind, ballet or dance books fall into two categories: those that focus on the euphoria of performance, especially when aware that one is dancing their best, and then there are those that look at the darker side of dance. Take a glance at the cover. Pretty, isn’t it? But look at that dancer’s eyes. It’s a very suitable cover for this book, centered around a pair of dancers at the prestigious Paris Opera House ballet school in Paris. These two girls swear eternal friendship—while competi In my own mind, ballet or dance books fall into two categories: those that focus on the euphoria of performance, especially when aware that one is dancing their best, and then there are those that look at the darker side of dance. Take a glance at the cover. Pretty, isn’t it? But look at that dancer’s eyes. It’s a very suitable cover for this book, centered around a pair of dancers at the prestigious Paris Opera House ballet school in Paris. These two girls swear eternal friendship—while competing strenuously, along with the rest of their class of “rats,” to be the single dancer chosen to get the Prize, a chance of promotion to the Opera House. A dancer I once knew told me about a recurring dream she had: she walked out onto the stage to perform barefoot. The stage was covered with what appeared to be glittering snow, but as she took her first leap, she looked down to discover it was really glass shards. And somehow she had to keep herself dancing in the air, for if she landed, she knew the glass would cut her feet to ribbons.Reading Bright Burning Stars brought back that dream told me some thirty years ago. The details of ballet are impeccable in this book. The plot gains tremendous velocity as our two dancers, Kate and Marine, compete with their class, and with each other, not only for the Prize, but for the attention of the charismatic boy who leads the male dancers, whose self-absorbed drive would give any girl outside of that high-octane atmosphere serious pause.Who will excel enough to win? By the time you find out, ending the book with somewhat the same emotional exhaustion of a day-long rehearsal, you reflect on the price of that contest, which runs the gamut of mental illness, suicide, emotional dysfunction, abortion, drug abuse, and of course the extremes of self-abuse in order to achieve that admired skeletal profile. It’s compellingly written, but all in all, it’s more a cautionary tale than a celebration of the sheer exhilaration of dance.About the only debut-writer problem I found with the prose in this book was the occasional interlarding of French phrases—which were then translated into English, calling awkward attention to the fact that the book takes place in Paris, and everybody is speaking French. Perhaps the editor gave that a pass (or even demanded it) because the book is slanting for a teen audience, which makes it even more puzzling—I’d think that any reader who is able to deal with abortion, drug use, suicide, eating disorders, and severe emotional disfunction is more than capable of figuring out simple sentences from context. (If she’s not already studying French because of an interest in ballet.)Copy provided by NetGalley
    more
  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Algonquin Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review | Goodreads | Blog | Twitch | Pinterest | Buy
  • Ashlee » Library In The Country
    January 1, 1970
    View blog tour post on my blog Library in the CountryBright Burning Stars is a tumultuous, dramatic and frenzied read that shows the dark side of a competitive ballet school, in the vein of Black Swan.Best friends Marine and Kate would do almost anything to win the coveted Prize … to become one of the students retained for the Paris Opera’s ballet company. The problem? There is only room for one male and female pair. Despite their friendship, Marine and Kate are rivals and their loyalties to eac View blog tour post on my blog Library in the CountryBright Burning Stars is a tumultuous, dramatic and frenzied read that shows the dark side of a competitive ballet school, in the vein of Black Swan.Best friends Marine and Kate would do almost anything to win the coveted Prize … to become one of the students retained for the Paris Opera’s ballet company. The problem? There is only room for one male and female pair. Despite their friendship, Marine and Kate are rivals and their loyalties to each other will be tested. With sights set on the Prize, both girls become entangled with Cyrille, aka The Demigod, considered to be the best male dancer in the student company and a ballet prodigy.Things get pretty intense from here and I would only recommend this to mature readers, as the story tackles some realistic but tough topics. The relationships in this book are highly manipulative and toxic and the characters use each other for their own gain, while lacking a degree a emotional connection. Some of the darker themes in this story could have been better highlighted and discussed and the adults in this story certainly should have played a larger role in ensuring the mental and physical health of their students.That said, the setting of this book is superb and this is the type of book one could compulsively read over a weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the competitive aspect. You never knew what the characters would do next, especially Kate, to achieve their goals.Overall, this book is a dark contemporary showing how cutthroat the world of ballet is. This book is psychologically taxing at times, but never ceases in dishing out the drama!Trigger warning for eating disorders, mental illness, suicide, abortion, unclear sexual consent, and unhealthy romantic relationships and friendships.Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review and inviting me to be a host on the blog tour.
    more
  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    I SPED through this book (started it this morning) and it was very compelling although I have mixed feelings about some of it!Content Warnings (super huge + definitely recommend you look at these if you have any triggers): (view spoiler)[suicidal thoughts, severe disordered eating, severe body dysmorphia, self-harm, intentional drug use, grief over an abortion (hide spoiler)]
    more
  • Rae
    January 1, 1970
    Read this review and others on my blog: https://thriftybibliophile.comBright Burning Stars by A.K. Small is about an elite ballet school and the ballerinas who will stop at nothing to succeed.Dancers at Nanterre are under immense pressure to perform perfectly and stay slender. They bend and break their bodies, push themselves to impossible limits, and batter their self-esteems. They’re all after one thing: to be offered a spot with a prestigious company of dancers. They refer to it as “the prize Read this review and others on my blog: https://thriftybibliophile.comBright Burning Stars by A.K. Small is about an elite ballet school and the ballerinas who will stop at nothing to succeed.Dancers at Nanterre are under immense pressure to perform perfectly and stay slender. They bend and break their bodies, push themselves to impossible limits, and batter their self-esteems. They’re all after one thing: to be offered a spot with a prestigious company of dancers. They refer to it as “the prize.”What would you do for the prize? Would you die for it? Kill somebody for it? Seduce? Steal?Marine and Kate have been best friends since they first joined Nanterre, but there’s only one female spot available with the dance company, and they both want it. Competition is fierce, and it drives the two apart as they both fight for first place. Is the prize worth sacrificing friendship?As the two friends compete, the world around them seems to shatter as they’re focused on one thing and one thing only. When the walls start coming down around them, they’re forced to question what’s really important in life.I enjoyed reading Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small! The story was fast-paced and engaging! While I didn’t form a strong connection with the characters, I couldn’t help but want to know what was going to happen next. It’s a page-turner! Warning: there are mentions of drug use, abortion, and eating disorders in the book.I’ve never been a dancer, but I find the professional ballet world fascinating in its rigor and brutality. The author, a former ballet dancer herself, captured this world beautifully. I can’t imagine doing drugs to cope or starving myself to stay a certain shape. The misguided dedication was astounding and captivating to read about.While fascinating, yes, much of the book was sad too. Marine and Kate have placed their entire self-worth on a single thing: ballet. It’s ballet or bust. If you don’t win the prize, you’re a failure. As the book goes on, the girls start to crack under the intense pressure, though they handle it in different ways.I thought Cyrille, the demigod, was an interesting character. Cyrille uses people to get ahead, caring little about the consequences. I enjoyed his interactions with the Marine and Kate, even though he was a character I enjoyed hating.The ending of Bright Burning Stars was great! I had no idea how the book was going to end, but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It was nice to see Marine and Kate grow and develop as characters. While one of them grew immensely in a positive, healthy way, the other still has a long road ahead of her.If you enjoy books set in the world of dance, check out Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small!Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Kate Vocke
    January 1, 1970
    "Compulsively Readable" The best description I've seen so far of this book!Remember that Natalie Portman movie Black Swan? That was my first glimpse into the intense competition that goes on in the ballet world. Picture that level of competition, obsession, and desire to be the best - but add in being a teenager and dealing with boys? A whole nother level of insecurity, desperation and ambition!Marine and Kate are among the best of the best at the Paris Opera Ballet School and also the best of f "Compulsively Readable" The best description I've seen so far of this book!Remember that Natalie Portman movie Black Swan? That was my first glimpse into the intense competition that goes on in the ballet world. Picture that level of competition, obsession, and desire to be the best - but add in being a teenager and dealing with boys? A whole nother level of insecurity, desperation and ambition!Marine and Kate are among the best of the best at the Paris Opera Ballet School and also the best of friends. Just before they are to embark on their final year - a student is found dead and it leaves them struggling to grapple with the ultimate question: How far would they go to win? To be the best? To be number one?The competition aspect of this story is INTENSE. Ballet on it's own is an extreme sport in my opinion - the toll it must take on the mind and the body - is nothing short of extraordinary. Throw in the desire to be the best of the best, and how few make it to the top - and you can imagine the stress and the pressure put on these dancers. Just reading as each competition and trial and performance for rankings/selections took place had me anxious and on my toes! I was riveted by the process, the fierceness and felt ALL the emotions.Also throw in the hardest parts of being a teenager - dating boys, agonizing over weight and appearance, and trying to hang on to your best friend, the ONE person who gets you, but is also your rival - this story had me feverishly turning each page to find out where each dramatic twist and turn would take Marine and Kate. The buildup was extremely exciting - and I felt the pressure along with each character as they pushed themselves to the limit to dance their very best. But for some - these limits may ultimately be sacrifices they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives. A riveting story from start to finish!
    more
  • Lindsay♫SingerOfStories♫
    January 1, 1970
    Inside Nanterre School for Dance reside two best friends, Marine and Kate, who–among the other girls in their class–are competing for the one top spot dancing with the top male. Bright Burning Stars did an excellent job of capturing the cattiness and petty atmosphere that can reign in a competitive atmosphere like this. I don’t have experience with dance, but I went to school for opera where people are vying for lead roles in a show and believe me, when you have spent your life training for some Inside Nanterre School for Dance reside two best friends, Marine and Kate, who–among the other girls in their class–are competing for the one top spot dancing with the top male. Bright Burning Stars did an excellent job of capturing the cattiness and petty atmosphere that can reign in a competitive atmosphere like this. I don’t have experience with dance, but I went to school for opera where people are vying for lead roles in a show and believe me, when you have spent your life training for something and you know that you are prepared and that you have nailed your performance but then the next person goes on stage and has an advantage only because of a ‘favor’ she did or a judge? If it could mean the difference between performing on stage at sold out shows every night versus performing four times per month and teaching voice/dance lessons just to make ends meet….how far would you be willing to go to ensure you hit the top?So that was all that was on my mind through most of the book. Everything hit close to home for me because I could really draw paralells to where I had been in the fine arts world, but really, it could work for any positions one is competing for. We all need drive (though, maybe not quite this much) to get to top. This book is told in dual perspectives so we do get to see both Marine’s and Kate’s thoughts as they go through all of this craziness. And I do mean crazy, but that’s what makes this book truly a page-turner I thought. I really feel this book was beautifully written. It has some beautiful descriptions of dancing, it can be brutal at times (trigger warnings: eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, abortion grief, self-harm, intentional drug use, body dysmorphia) but I was here for the big picture.
    more
  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    "Would you die for The Prize?"This was the question Marine, Kate, and all the other First Division dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet School were asking themselves, as they began their final year of training. This was their last opportunity to prove they deserved the top spot, and the company position that came with it. However, only two - one male and one female, would get The Prize.I have read several books set in the world of elite ballet, and like those, this was intense. Like most of the oth "Would you die for The Prize?"This was the question Marine, Kate, and all the other First Division dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet School were asking themselves, as they began their final year of training. This was their last opportunity to prove they deserved the top spot, and the company position that came with it. However, only two - one male and one female, would get The Prize.I have read several books set in the world of elite ballet, and like those, this was intense. Like most of the other books, this one focused on the "dark side" of ballet. There was the physical strain on the dancers' bodies, which they tried to soothe with ice baths, warm water bottles, and lots of pain reliever (and not always the legal kind of pain reliever). Then there was the extreme mental stress, the head games, the sabotage, the body dysmorphia, and insecurities. It was super cutthroat, and Small expertly pulled me into their mess. I felt the hunger pangs, the aches, and that out of control type of spiral right there along with the characters.But you know how Kate and Marine made it this far? By the power of the friendship they had forged from their very year at the ballet school. Since the age of 12, they had been supporting one another, but during this critical year, cracks started to form in their friendship as Kate began to make a string of poor decisions in order to give herself an edge in winning the prize, and Marine starved herself in oder to attain that perfect ballet body.I worried for both Marine and Kate, though, probably more for Kate. Marine was lucky to have a few other solid relationships, and Luc was an especially strong ally. Once Kate and Marine were on the outs, Kate was alone, thousands of miles from her home in Virginia, and still nursing the wounds left when the mother, who had abandoned her. I was content with the ending Small wrote for Kate, because it was hopeful, but I loved the ending she gave to Marine. It was a little unexpected and quite wonderful.One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was because it was about ballet dancers, and Small opened that window into their world quiet wide. I have already mentioned all the physical and mental pain, but she also invited us to "see" them dance. I got a good sense of the euphoria both Marine and Kate experienced, when they performed, and I loved being part of the action. She described the mood, the music, the costumes, and the movement in such a way, that I could fully envision it.Overall: A compelling look at the world of elite ballet, which deftly took us through the highs and lows one experiences in their pursuit of The Prize.*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
    more
  • Stacee
    January 1, 1970
    I read to 50% and then skipped to the last two chapters. I was 1000% here for the murder-y sounding synopsis. I expected a little more of a mystery type story than cutthroat ambition. I didn’t really connect to either Kate or Marine. Both of their POVs sounded the same to me and a couple of times I had to go back to find out whose head I was in. All of the other characters are quite flat, no one felt fleshed out and if it’s on purpose, it did a great job of showing how the girls were alienated. I read to 50% and then skipped to the last two chapters. I was 1000% here for the murder-y sounding synopsis. I expected a little more of a mystery type story than cutthroat ambition. I didn’t really connect to either Kate or Marine. Both of their POVs sounded the same to me and a couple of times I had to go back to find out whose head I was in. All of the other characters are quite flat, no one felt fleshed out and if it’s on purpose, it did a great job of showing how the girls were alienated. Plot wise...I don’t know. It seemed odd to me right from the start, but I was hoping I would settle into it. Since I didn’t really care for the MCs, I didn’t care about their journey. I will say that the ballet scenes felt authentic and the atmosphere of Paris was fantastic. Overall, It seems that this book just wasn’t for me as I was disappointed.FYI: in what I read of this book, there was depression, eating disorders, drug use, abortion, and thoughts of suicide. **Huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
    more
  • Paula Phillips
    January 1, 1970
    In the world of Ballet, it's definitely a dog eat dog world as the only one can ever become the best, and in order to be the best, you have to strive for perfection and sacrifice everything around you from your weight , comforts of your life, free time and sometimes friendships can be broken and destroyed , all in the name of scoring that big part in the ballet shows. Best friends Marine and Kate have trained together since they were little at the Paris Opera Ballet School. For years, it has bee In the world of Ballet, it's definitely a dog eat dog world as the only one can ever become the best, and in order to be the best, you have to strive for perfection and sacrifice everything around you from your weight , comforts of your life, free time and sometimes friendships can be broken and destroyed , all in the name of scoring that big part in the ballet shows. Best friends Marine and Kate have trained together since they were little at the Paris Opera Ballet School. For years, it has been the two of them against the world. However, they are starting to age out of the Ballet school and this year is the year of changes. The year that will make or break their career. During the year, the two girls will find themselves both in the line of the Demigod's eyes. He is the best male dancer at the academy and girls who dance with him, find themselves reaching high levels. Marine and Kate promised never to let anyone get between them, but the Demigod will as Kate first captures his interest. Of course, the Demigod has a rating system and takes thrills in breaking the hearts and souls of the dancers. Though Kate is a great dancer, her heart is weak, and we will read as she starts to isolate herself and create a bubble around herself and Demigod. Then he drops her and her ratings begin to decline, and life plummets. Then it's Marine's turn, she on the other hand as a firm determination as she joined ballet to honor her twin Oli's life. Bright Burning Stars was a tale of the inner world of Ballet stars and that to get to the top and be the best the sacrifices in life we have to take, and sometimes that means squashing the others around us. It also shows readers, that despite everything it is a true friendship that will always prevail.
    more
  • Renata
    January 1, 1970
    ok. ok. I love a dance movie/book, so when I skimmed the description on NetGalley, my brain understood "French ballet boarding school" and downloaded it immediately. This was...fine. I liked the ballet stuff, though there's not much here that's groundbreaking if you've ever seen/read any other dance movie/book. Eating disorders? Sexually charged dance partners? Gross ouchy feet? You don't say. But that stuff is all done well, if you're into that kind of thing, which I am.A linguistic pet peeve: ok. ok. I love a dance movie/book, so when I skimmed the description on NetGalley, my brain understood "French ballet boarding school" and downloaded it immediately. This was...fine. I liked the ballet stuff, though there's not much here that's groundbreaking if you've ever seen/read any other dance movie/book. Eating disorders? Sexually charged dance partners? Gross ouchy feet? You don't say. But that stuff is all done well, if you're into that kind of thing, which I am.A linguistic pet peeve: this is set in France, the characters (except one) are French, they're presumably speaking French all the time but we're reading the dialogue translated because, you know, that's how books work. Except sometimes a random French word is thrown in the dialogue. So what's that, like, double-French?? (SOMETIMES this is for a specific phrase with the purpose of translating the difference between that and a similar English idiom, which makes sense for the American character, but sometimes it's just like bonjour or whatever, and like, why.)But HERE'S THE SPOILER I WANT TO DIG INTO:(view spoiler)[OK so Kate, the slutty American ballerina, gets pregnant, because of course, so she goes to the pharmacist to get a pregnancy test, and the pharmacist also gives her a morning after pill but it doesn't work because she lied and it's been way more than 72 hours, which, OK, I buy that a panicked teen might try that, whatever. But then the pharmacist is like "anyway if that doesn't work talk to the beekeeper" and she's like OK and THEIR BALLET BOARDING SCHOOL ALSO HAS A BEEHIVE AND BEEKEPER ON STAFF and I guess the beekeeper is a retired OB/GYN who just has beekeeping as a hobby?? and they have an actual nurse and everything on staff, and anyway the beekeeper helps her with herbal abortion rememedies.This book is contemporary!!!! They have like, cell phones and the morning after pill and everything!! The beekeeper thing is so weird that I'm like, is this magical realism??? But everything else seems...not that???? Is the beekeeper literal? IF YOU HAVE READ THIS PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT THE BEEKEEPER. (hide spoiler)]:O
    more
  • Alaina
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Bright Burning Stars was a pretty good ballet book. It definitely reminded me of Dance of Shadows a bit. In it, you will meet two best friends Kate and Marine (sometimes referred to K or M). They are enrolled into an elite ballet school that resides in Paris, France. Now this little class is severely cutthroat but it was a bit boring to read about. I just feel like the pacing was a bit all over the place. Then the characters wou I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Bright Burning Stars was a pretty good ballet book. It definitely reminded me of Dance of Shadows a bit. In it, you will meet two best friends Kate and Marine (sometimes referred to K or M). They are enrolled into an elite ballet school that resides in Paris, France. Now this little class is severely cutthroat but it was a bit boring to read about. I just feel like the pacing was a bit all over the place. Then the characters would just act super weird and not really give an explanation - and I was bored for most of this book.The friendship between Kate and Marine was meh to me. Yeah, they were besties to a point because they both wanted to be the best. Kate, at one point, was sabotaging the other girls in their class. She also tried to sleep her way to the top with the best guy dancer. It actually backfired on her and I didn't feel bad at all because the guy was a self-centered douche anyways. Plus two girls fighting over the same girl was just agonizing to read. I didn't care who ended up with who or what the heck was happening in this story either.I feel like these girls are both dealing with serious issues that weren't really addressed by the adults in this book. It just kind of seemed overlooked which was rubbing me the wrong way. Plus their friendship didn't seem like a true friendship anymore which was a bit heartbreaking. Then with the ending, I was just kind of underwhelmed. I wanted something to happen that would have shocked me... but nothing did. It was just an okay kind of book that took me a long ass time to finish.
    more
  • Hristina
    January 1, 1970
    You can also read this review on my blog illbefinealonereads.A huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be a part of this blog tour.Bright Burning Stars pulled me in with the first sentence and it didn’t let go.I found it to be very well-written, I liked Small’s writing style. The voices she gave the characters suited the story well and I have to note that the multiple POV was pulled off really well. The plot was intriguing and well paced, I really enjoyed it - it just felt fresh You can also read this review on my blog illbefinealonereads.A huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be a part of this blog tour.Bright Burning Stars pulled me in with the first sentence and it didn’t let go.I found it to be very well-written, I liked Small’s writing style. The voices she gave the characters suited the story well and I have to note that the multiple POV was pulled off really well. The plot was intriguing and well paced, I really enjoyed it - it just felt fresh to me. I thought the characters were beautifully written, the friendship between Kate and Marine and the way it developed felt way too real.This book was surprisingly dark and heavy, but a quick read at the same time. The story was haunting, emotional, at times heartbreaking, and it was filled with twists that made it so enticing. It left me wishing there was more.The story is about teens who are under a lot of pressure, all of them in a competition with one another. It deals with how they handle themselves and how they navigate through it. This was exceptionally well-executed, it seemed realistic, and I can’t help but think that Small’s personal experience with the world she described in this world might have played a big part in it.Everything about this book was just so good. It’s one of those releases that shouldn’t be missed.*Copy received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*Rating 4/5 starsYOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON: MY BLOG | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER
    more
  • Sheila Goicea
    January 1, 1970
    See this full review along with others on my blog: foalsfictionandfiligree.comI received an ARC of this book via Netgcalley, Edelweiss, and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.Content Warning: Overall dark and depressing tone, Depression, Self Harm, Underaged Drinking, Smoking, Sex, Forced miscarriage, Self-harm, Anorexia, Drug abuse, Suicide idealization, Death ”If you wer See this full review along with others on my blog: foalsfictionandfiligree.comI received an ARC of this book via Netgcalley, Edelweiss, and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.Content Warning: Overall dark and depressing tone, Depression, Self Harm, Underaged Drinking, Smoking, Sex, Forced miscarriage, Self-harm, Anorexia, Drug abuse, Suicide idealization, Death ”If you were only allowed to feel one, which would you pick, pain or numbness?”I didn’t want to play Would You anymore. I shrugged.“Come one. You have to answer,” Kate said.“Numbness,” I replied.“Not me,” Kate said. “I’d pick pain any day.” When I say I typically don’t read contemporary, I should probably stick with that. When I first came across this book, though, I was interested due to the ballet aspect of it. To be honest, it was nice to have a momentary step away from the fantasy realm. However, I wished I would have spent this hiatus with a different choice. While Brightly Burning Stars has a few good points to it, most of it is very negative. As you can see from the content warning listed above, there is a lot of crap poor choices made, backstabbing, and too many other unpleasantries to really appreciate the dancing part of this book.I’m not a ballerina. I took lessons when I was younger, but never went far with the discipline as I lost interest and developed it for other things--one being hip-hop dancing. No matter the type, I still appreciate dance. This aspect was the strongest of the entire book. This author knows her stuff when it comes to ballet and it’s easy to tell she’s intimately involved with it. Reviewing the other parts within the story is when it gets unpleasant. The story is told in an alternating format between two best friends and fellow dancers--Kate and Marine. Both girls attend the Paris Opera Ballet School and are in their final year there. As competition gets stiffer, they begin to do whatever it takes to come out on top--and it gets messy. Boys, drugs, alcohol, and all sorts of destructive behavior takes both girls down paths they don’t exactly desire. As this happens, a chasm appears in their friendship and pulls them apart. ”Marine, notre monde, this world of ours--the stage and studios and barres--is intense and lonely. There is no space for friendships, love, or even an old and perhaps sacred bond between twins. Nothing shadows the art of dance. It’s a union of body, mind, and music. Classical dance is known for being ruthless. Any retired company member would tell you it’s a one-man show.” If anything, this book is a glimpse into the dark lifestyles that people live when they only live for themselves and promoting their own gain. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to take away from this book. It think it teeters on the edge of dangerous for young readers, as there are some very touchy and serious topics like anorexia, forced miscarriage, and self-harm, and they never come full circle to promote readers to not follow suite. These are topics that shouldn’t be lightly included in a plot to make it thicken. Due to its content, this shouldn’t be a Young Adult book at all. While I liked the dedication to detail of the ballet-aspect of the book, I disliked pretty much everything else. Vulgarity: ModerateSexual content: Explicit sex scenes resulting in pregnancy and forced miscarriageViolence: Minimal.My Rating: ★1/2My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook
    more
  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    Finished but skimmed through most of the book out of boredom. I love stories about the ballet world and thought this would be a perfect fit for me.Kate, an American studying ballet in Paris, and her best friend and roommate Marine are in their last year of training before one girl and one boy will be chosen to to join the company. Kate, abandoned by her mother at age five, and Marine, mourning the loss of her twin brother are fueled by loss and pain, more than nurturance and food.The story in B Finished but skimmed through most of the book out of boredom. I love stories about the ballet world and thought this would be a perfect fit for me.Kate, an American studying ballet in Paris, and her best friend and roommate Marine are in their last year of training before one girl and one boy will be chosen to to join the company. Kate, abandoned by her mother at age five, and Marine, mourning the loss of her twin brother are fueled by loss and pain, more than nurturance and food.The story in BRIGHT BURNING STARS could have been interesting, if AK Small had developed the characters’ personalities with voice and engaging writing. The plot had tension, but the writing lacked pace and emotion and I didn’t care about the story. I wanted to care, but couldn’t find the motivation within the pages.
    more
  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Bright Burning Stars is a story of friendship and the dangers of overachievment. The characters are ballet dancers. As teenagers, they already have a multitude of issues to deal with due to hormones and the process of growing up mentally. Add to this the pressure placed upon ballet dancers. These girls must stay insanely thin, like starvation equals success. The dancing must be perfect always because it's essential to land a spot with a ballet company. I felt sympathetic toward the girls. It's a Bright Burning Stars is a story of friendship and the dangers of overachievment. The characters are ballet dancers. As teenagers, they already have a multitude of issues to deal with due to hormones and the process of growing up mentally. Add to this the pressure placed upon ballet dancers. These girls must stay insanely thin, like starvation equals success. The dancing must be perfect always because it's essential to land a spot with a ballet company. I felt sympathetic toward the girls. It's all ridiculous. How can they be expected to live this way? I found the story fascinating. This made me think about the real pressure that teen dancers, musicians, etc. must face. The standards of achievement need reevaluating else these kids could die. They have no chance at normal lives. It's sad really. The story is well written and thought provoking. The characters will pull you in, and you will feel the brutal reality of their lives. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    my full review is now up! i'm super excited to be part of the blog tour, so you can check out all my thoughts at this link! https://yabooksdaily.wordpress.com/20...hmMmmMmM thoughts to come next week as i'm part of the blog tour! once it's published and my post date rolls around my review will be up!
    more
  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "Believe in the past and in destiny."I have never been this obsessed with the cover of a book and the synopsis as I am with this one. I’m guilty of judging this by it’s beautiful and dazzling cover. It captures your eye and squeezes your heart. With such a strong feeling, I was afraid that the story inside wouldn’t match the outside. But everything about this was mesmerizing and my obsession has grown fonder. I won’t lie. I knew next to nothing about ballet but I wanted to learn. This gives an i "Believe in the past and in destiny."I have never been this obsessed with the cover of a book and the synopsis as I am with this one. I’m guilty of judging this by it’s beautiful and dazzling cover. It captures your eye and squeezes your heart. With such a strong feeling, I was afraid that the story inside wouldn’t match the outside. But everything about this was mesmerizing and my obsession has grown fonder. I won’t lie. I knew next to nothing about ballet but I wanted to learn. This gives an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the world that is ballet. The way people act to get where they want to be and how they torture their bodies to get to that top spot. It was fascinating. Going to a new school can be daunting, but having a best friend by your side makes a world of difference. And that's how Kate and Marine feel. They became best friends and moon sisters within a very short period of time making it to the ballet school in Paris.As the competition gets tougher and binds start to unravel, everything is pushed to its limits. Can things in the good life last forever?Bright Burning Stars is a spectacular read that leaves your heart wrenched and tears running down your face. When you think things are getting better, something comes crashing down and you're left in amazement. The pressure these kids are under is excruciating and your heart breaks as they try to become the best. Nothing about this book was dull, it kept me up at night. But just remember that there is a silver lining after all and boys might actually be the devil. What would you do for "The Prize"?
    more
  • Rae
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review You can find the Blog Tour post for this review on the blog here:http://vicariouslyvoraciously.com/rev...For information on where to buy this book, check here:https://www.workman.com/products/brig...First of all, thank you to the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book and join in on the blog tour! I am newer to the book community so every instance such as this are so appreciated. And thank you A.K. Small for this wonderful ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review You can find the Blog Tour post for this review on the blog here:http://vicariouslyvoraciously.com/rev...For information on where to buy this book, check here:https://www.workman.com/products/brig...First of all, thank you to the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book and join in on the blog tour! I am newer to the book community so every instance such as this are so appreciated. And thank you A.K. Small for this wonderful book that you have written! I can't wait for the rest of the book world to get their hands on a copy and fall in love with these incredibly real characters just as I did. Goodreads 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. I think that in every girl's life at some point we all looked at a ballerina and thought to ourselves that we wanted to be her. I for one took ballet as a child and actually made it all the way to Pointe before I realized that the amount of time and dedication that was required to succeed from then on was going to be more than I was willing to sacrifice for dance. That and I got side tracked with being a teenager and horseback riding. So there ended my ballet career. But I have always wondered what it would be like to make it. To be a ballerina star, flying across the stage, defying gravity. Its hard not to when you see how magical the dancers look and how effortless it all seems. Bright Burning Stars captures the reality of ballet and through these amazingly realistic characters we learn that its much more than magic. There is actually a lot of hard work, dedication, dieting, and essentially an entire lifestyle that goes into becoming these feather like dolls that seem to float across the stage.The biggest pull I had in reading this was the friendship dynamic between our two main characters, Marine & Kate. Their relationship with each other and their passion for dance was as close to real as it gets. In growing up we all learn that the perfect fantasy that we've concocted in our minds eventually hits a wall of reality at some point. And people grow apart and different over time. But even though our circumstances may change, and our lives are different, that doesn't mean that we have to lose that friendship. People can learn to work around their differences if they know that person is worth the time and effort to keep in their lives. And the bond between Marine and Kate is more than just friends, they have become family over time. And sure family fights, family disagrees, but in the end they are always there for each other, just like these two girls.Along with struggling to maintain friendships, there were some other big topics that this book covered. Topics that are all too real in the world of ballet and life in general. Some of these trigger warnings would include: thoughts of suicide, eating disorders, body shame, abortion, & depression. I will say that each of these topics was handled with care and respect and each character did take the time to work through each of these issues and none were glorified in any way shape or form. Although there were times when I pretty much despised Kate as a character because it seemed like she was ungrateful for all she had and she kept making one big bad decision after the next. But without her we wouldn't have had the reality of how this life takes its tolls on those who choose this way of life. Though there was a lot of seriousness surrounding these topics, it wasn't all consuming. There was plenty to show us the happy side of a ballerina's life like the friendships and bonds that are formed, the passion of dancing, the feeling of being on stage and performing, romances that kindle between like minded people, and so much more. This book was so full of emotion and passion it was hard not to fall right in with the characters, they all felt so real!The way this book is written you can tell that the author was in fact herself a dancer. The terminology all the way down to the details of the daily routine these dancers endure was spot on. I could feel the authenticity in each word. Its beautiful to write about something that you are or have been passionate about at some point in your life. This is where the true beauty behind the words shines the most, and trust me, these are some serious Bright Burning Stars. I found it easy to fall into the writing and get swept away in the words. It wasn't difficult to read at all, flowing from one scene to the next with a small cast of characters to remember, and just the one main location where the story takes place, its very easy to follow and comprehend. I also minored in French in college so the language and dance terms didn't give me any trouble to understand, but I do think that if you aren't familiar with either ballet or French, then it could give you some pause with the sheer amount of terminology thrown into this book. Maybe a glossary of terms will be added to the final copy which I think would help readers who aren't as familiar with these terms understand what they are reading.My overall thoughts on this book are that its beautifully written, with extreme care to details and realistic touches make the story and characters come to life. You fall in love, feel the rush of dancing, have your heart broken, get angry at decisions made, root for certain people to succeed, form crushes on other characters, and in some ways become a part of the story yourself. Its hard not to when the love for ballet and dance oozes from the pages and right into your heart. There is so much that happens in the short amount of time the book takes to read that when its over, all you can do is sit in silence for a minute taking it all in. I really feel like this book will connect with certain readers who feel this level of passion for their own careers or hobbies. And for those of us who always wanted to be a dancer, we can live vicariously through these characters as they take the journey we chose to pass on so long ago.
    more
  • Marisa
    January 1, 1970
    I received an arc from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. I want to find a good YA ballet book. All that I have read (about 8) are too sexualized, too catty, too over the top, and overall lacking. This book started off with a rarity: 2 dear friends. Main and secondary characters aren’t really fleshed out. Marine is vaguely haunted by guiltOf her dead twin brother and that’s why she wants to dance. Kate’s mother walked out on her as a child and that is why she dances. Only not real I received an arc from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. I want to find a good YA ballet book. All that I have read (about 8) are too sexualized, too catty, too over the top, and overall lacking. This book started off with a rarity: 2 dear friends. Main and secondary characters aren’t really fleshed out. Marine is vaguely haunted by guiltOf her dead twin brother and that’s why she wants to dance. Kate’s mother walked out on her as a child and that is why she dances. Only not really. Language and phrasings are unnecessarily flowery and odd. Typically big plots are quick and swept under the rug.Spoilers:Kate gets pregnant early in the book, she takes some tea, gets sick, is counseled to seek therapy, and then returns to class and dance. Only a few mentions of it later. Kate becomes addicted to pills. Only she does initially, then it is ignored for a month or so when she understudies, then she needs them again.Overall the ending and partner switching didn’t make sense.Still searching for a good ballet YA that is well written and doesn’t go off the rails.
    more
  • The Book Valkyrie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a truly excellent book. Everything from the plot, characters, and relationships were magnificently crafted, and I couldn't help but be captivated by the way A.K. masterfully weaved together a story of two very different girls who both had many flaws, yet still managed to be worth rooting for. It's an understatement to say Bright Burning Stars swept me off my feet, as I honestly was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.But the thing is, I almost put this book down.For the first 30% or so, This was a truly excellent book. Everything from the plot, characters, and relationships were magnificently crafted, and I couldn't help but be captivated by the way A.K. masterfully weaved together a story of two very different girls who both had many flaws, yet still managed to be worth rooting for. It's an understatement to say Bright Burning Stars swept me off my feet, as I honestly was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.But the thing is, I almost put this book down.For the first 30% or so, I was sceptical of the way the author was handling heavy topics such as mental health and disordered eating. You see, in the book, the two main characters both feel pressured to restrict their bodies of proper nourishment in order to stay "in shape", or in other words, look like what an accomplished ballerina is "expected" to look like. And I don't have a problem with this, as I understand that eating disorders are unfortunately common in the world of dance and that they should be discussed and brought awareness to. But I guess you could say my concern was that the author wasn't actually addressing these characters' struggles with eating as what they were-- mental illnesses. The glorification of mental illness is something that I, and many others I'm certain, despise seeing in literature, which is why I was slightly reluctant to continue reading Bright Burning Stars. I felt like the way Kate and Marine viewed food and calories was something to take seriously, and again, I was worried that the author wasn't showing that the way the girls' were thinking was dangerous and that it's not something readers should embrace or fall into. But thankfully, the author did do that, as one of the two protagonists ends up in a heartbreaking situation where she is forced to confront her unhealthy habits and seek help to get out of them.With that being cleared up, I can honestly say that I loved this book! For starters, as I briefly mentioned previously in this review, both of the main characters won special places in my heart. The girls were both determined, passionate, and unwilling to give up on their goals, yet they were also different in so many ways. Kate's burning desire to win the prize that led to some of the questionable choices she made throughout the book was a complex aspect of the plot that I really enjoyed reading. And I could say the same thing about the intense grief, sorrow, and guilt Marine feels when she thinks of the accident that took the life of her beloved brother, Oli. And while these differences certainly made Kate and Marine stand out as unique, individual characters, there was one thing that they shared in common throughout the whole novel, from the first page to the last: their unflinching love for one another that remained strong no matter what obstacle got in way-- Whether it was the Demigod, the Prize, or the secret that Kate spent a great portion of the book harbouring, at the end of the day, Kate and Marine's bond was heartwrenchingly unbreakable. Even though their relationship faced hardships, they still cared for each other in a way that only true friends do.Aside from characters, another thing I really loved about Bright Burning Stars was the ending. Many things were left unsolved-- how Kate would move on from a devastating loss she faced in the book, what Marine would do to accept what happened to her brother, and most importantly, what would become of the two girls' friendship. But I think that's the beauty of it all. A.K. Small leaves nothing set in stone. None of the previously listed plot-points are completely determined, so it's up to us, the readers, to let our minds ponder the possibilities of what the fates of Marine and Kate could withhold.Overall, I'm so grateful for the emotional experience reading this book has given me. The story of Marine and Kate is one that I won't be forgetting any time soon, as it has touched me in a way more memorable than I can put into words.
    more
  • Suzanne (The Bookish Libra)
    January 1, 1970
    A.K. Small’s Bright Burning Stars is a powerful debut that exposes the dark underbelly of competition at an elite ballet school in Paris. The story follows Marine Duval and Kate Sanders, who have been best friends ever since they first started training at the school. As the girls get older, the training gets more and more intense and the stakes get higher. What every student wants is “the prize” – a spot in a prestigious ballet company. The problem? Only one male and one female student are chose A.K. Small’s Bright Burning Stars is a powerful debut that exposes the dark underbelly of competition at an elite ballet school in Paris. The story follows Marine Duval and Kate Sanders, who have been best friends ever since they first started training at the school. As the girls get older, the training gets more and more intense and the stakes get higher. What every student wants is “the prize” – a spot in a prestigious ballet company. The problem? Only one male and one female student are chosen each year to win the prize and the competition is truly fierce, with students resorting to desperate measures to give themselves an edge over their fellow competitors. Can Marine and Kate’s friendship survive in such a cutthroat environment?This was such an addictive read for me, in part because of the nature of the competition itself and because of the toll it took on each of the student dancers. There was just so much tension and suspense! I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I wanted to know who was going to win, of course, but also what the students were willing to do in order to win. The very nature of the competition pits students against one another, forcing them into isolation from one another rather than encouraging them to bond. As if that weren’t enough, there is also the regular ranking of students based on performance, which leads the students to define their self-worth strictly in terms of what their ranking happens to be at that moment and their sense of worth goes up or down as the rankings change.I think the author does an incredible job of vividly and realistically portraying just how unhealthy such an environment is and what a strain it can put on even the strongest of friendships. This is an environment primed for mental health struggles, drug abuse and eating disorders in the strive for a perfect dancer’s body, endless cattiness and jealousy, and even suicidal thoughts. I found the challenges that both Marine and Kate faced to be riveting, and between the physical and emotional strain they were both under, I truly worried from page to page if both of them, and their friendship, could withstand the immense pressure they were under.I also loved the way the author starkly contrasts the exquisite beauty of the dance itself with all of that ugliness that takes place behind the scenes. I thought it made for a very powerful read.Bright Burning Stars is a moving read about the drive for perfection, unrealistic expectation, and the need to sometimes reevaluate what’s most important in life. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in a dark story that will leave you with plenty to think about long after you’ve finished reading.
    more
  • Cassie-Traveling Sister-
    January 1, 1970
    In the ballet world you need to be the best of the best. This book is broken into two POVs Kate and Marine who are training at an elite ballet company in Paris. They are put in division one which is best you can possibly be put in. To add pressure only one boy and one girl can win. Which can make some ballet dancers become unhealthy and mess with their mental health. Kate and Marine are friends but you can defiantly tell their is a toxic relationship there but I don’t want to give to much away. In the ballet world you need to be the best of the best. This book is broken into two POVs Kate and Marine who are training at an elite ballet company in Paris. They are put in division one which is best you can possibly be put in. To add pressure only one boy and one girl can win. Which can make some ballet dancers become unhealthy and mess with their mental health. Kate and Marine are friends but you can defiantly tell their is a toxic relationship there but I don’t want to give to much away. Kate was left at a young age by her mother so she is insecure, jealous, sneaky and quite scary at times. She uses her friendship with marine to get what she wants. Marine had a fraternal twin who also had a ballet dream so Marine is competing for him and his memory which adds more pressure on her. She’s constantly worrying about her weight and she try’s to solve some of her issues with romance and that can be uncomfortable at times. As the two “friends” compete they push themselves to the limit as their world crumbles, and it honestly makes you question how far would you push yourself to win the prize would you die, kill someone , steal or even seduce your way to the top? This book does have some trigger warnings, eating disorder is a big one. I give this four stars!
    more
  • Lucy-May
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book; it was a heartbreaking read but one that I really fell for & felt desperate to return to every night. Kate & Marine’s friendship was real & their struggles tugged at my heart. The world of ballet often seems horrific in books, but it completely fascinates me & always engulfs me. ⚠ This book contains a character with anorexia & one with severe depression, discussions of suicide, drug taking & scenes of a sexual nature ⚠I was sent this book to re I really enjoyed this book; it was a heartbreaking read but one that I really fell for & felt desperate to return to every night. Kate & Marine’s friendship was real & their struggles tugged at my heart. The world of ballet often seems horrific in books, but it completely fascinates me & always engulfs me. ⚠️ This book contains a character with anorexia & one with severe depression, discussions of suicide, drug taking & scenes of a sexual nature ⚠️I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour organised by The Fantastic Flying Book Club.Extended Review to follow.
    more
  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to come!
Write a review