If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Brightly Burning
Author: Alexa Donne
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling, Science Fiction

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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

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If we have ever discussed favorite books together, you probably know that Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is my all-time favorite book. I love the Gothic elements, the brooding Mr. Rochester, and Jane’s fierceness. But most of all, I adore Jane because she is bold, a fighter, and holds a firm ground in her beliefs. So when I found out that Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne was a sci-fi retelling of my favorite classic, I was on a mission to read this book as quickly as I could.

Brightly Burning parallels with many elements found in Jane Eyre, and although this Jane Eyre-retelling in space plays true to the classic, it also holds up on its own as a great book. The main character Stella, an orphan like Jane, is smart, determined, and hardworking. She has no family and she’s not rich, but she does have so much potential to prove that she is great at her job, and you know what, she deserves a good life.

And Hugo, Stella’s new boss and our very own re-imagining of Mr. Rochester, is a teenage boy that is bombarded by so many “adulting” responsibilities. Hugo is far from perfect, and he knows it, but when he and Stella cross paths and fall into a routine of sharing personal thoughts and their love for books, I was swooning so hard. SO HARD! Does Hugo always make the right decisions? No. Do these decisions have consequences that go awry? Yes. But I will tell you, each and every plot twist in this book will have you spinning and on the edge of your seat. And trust me this wild ride is worth it.  

Like its classic counterpart, Brightly Burning is littered with secrets that unfold just in time to a make mess out of all the characters’ lives. Stella is so straightforward and honest that it is hard for her to not react to the chaos that is thrown into her life when she works aboard Hugo’s spacecraft the Rochester. Add in the humanity’s destruction of Earth from hundreds of years ago and living on ships floating in space, and you too will feel the madness that comes with cabin fever, terrifying room fires, jealousy,  and creepy laughs echoing in the hallway. 

Even if you are not familiar with Jane Eyre, but you love adventurous romantic stories and you enjoy novels that are set in space, definitely give Brightly Burning a read. The characters are sassy and snarky and so darn lovable. The futuristic feel and living on spaceships adds that dark and lost feeling that is often depicted in Gothic novels, and works perfectly for this retelling. 

4 star rating


Note: Thank you to HMH Teen for providing me a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Event with Rick Yancey: If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave

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If It’s Not  A Rant, It’s A Rave” is a new feature on my blog, in which I “RAVE” about awesome conventions, book events, and/or author signings that I have attend.


On June 1, 2016 I met Rick Yancey, the author of the The 5th Wave series, at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio. I love this series, and I HAD to meet Rick again. I’m not a big picture taker, but I tried to take as many pictures as I could without looking like a creeper. And by the way, Rick Yancey is hilarious in person. He has the greatest stories and answers to audience questions.

I have met Rick Yancey in the past, so I already had the first two books of the series signed, but nothing and no one was going to stop me from getting my pre-ordered copy of The Last Star from being signed (HAHAHA!). 


It’s not everyday you meet an author who has a character with your name. 

A few highlights from Rick Yancey at the event…

  1. If he could be any character is The 5th Wave series he would be Bear or Cassie.
  2. Ben was supposed to die in the first book, but he was told that Ben is “too cute” to be killed off. So Rick tried to kill off Ben in the second book, but once again, Ben was “too cute” to be killed off. HAHAHAHA!!!
  3. If Cassie was sorted into a Hogwarts House, she would be Gryffindor. 
  4. Rick Yancey is Slytherin.
  5. In regards to the movie adaption, Rick was not a big fan of the party scene. “Cassie would  not be at a party. She would be at home and reading a book.” 

If you haven’t read The 5th Wave series yet, I highly recommend that you do. You won’t be disappointed. I have not read The Last Star yet, but I’m prepared to be wowed, awed, and heartbroken (I was warned).