Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Honestly? I put off reading "Brightly Burning" toward the end because the premise, "Jane Eyre in Outer Space as YA" sounded like a recipe for a terrible mash-up. I've read so many Jane Austen redos that were so disappointing. And YA? I'm so tired of YA cliches...
"Brightly Burning" is really good. Not just as a retelling, but as a stand alone book. I would have enjoyed Stella Ainsley, her world, her friends, and her adventure on their own. Stella is a refreshing change from the typical YA heroine, and the cast of characters are an engaging bunch.
However, as a retelling of a beloved classic, "Brightly Burning" is stellar (pun intended!). It took all the best parts of Charlotte Bronte's classic, mixed them up, added a few twists and turns, and presented them as a brand new story. Stella is a pitch perfect Jane, and Hugo Fairfax is a surprisingly well done Rochester. And I really, really did not think that a 19-year-old guy in a YA novel could possibly compare to the original Rochester...but he actually does. And yes, the book is appropriate for a YA audience. The changes that Donne made to transition her characters work well, staying true to the spirit of the original while adjusting to accommodate a younger hero.
Perhaps most delightful of all is that this book holds plenty of surprises even for old fans of Jane Eyre. Even though I was able to quickly guess the biggest change, I could not anticipate how everything was going to roll out and was genuinely on the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down!