Book Review: “Brightly Burning”

“Brightly Burning” by Alexa Donne

Source: Shelflove Crate

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Retelling, Science Fiction


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.

If you’re wanting serious sci-fi story, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for sci-fi with a little kissing ala Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, you’re sure to love Brightly Burning.

As far as being a Jane Eyre adaption, this was pretty decent. I had fun picking up all the pieces from the original novel. Some things are ripped directly from the book [Jane Stella recusing Rochester Hugo from a fire]. Other pieces have to be tweaked to make sense for this story [Adele is no longer Rochester’s ward. She becomes Jessa, his younger sister.] There is a bit of instalove going on but that’s more Bronte’s fault than it is Donne’s fault.

Stella is a lovely protagonist. I loved that she’s an engineer in addition to being a governess. It’s a great way to modernize the character while still being true to the original roots. She’s the only character I was really able to connect with.

The science and world building in the story is a bit shaky. A supervolcano exploded on Earth years ago which caused another Ice Age. That’s why people are all living on space ships but there’s not a lot of detail about how these space ships are still functional or how they’re being supported. I would have thought after so many years in space, supplies for everyone would be dwindling.

The story deviates from Jane Eyre towards the end which I really appreciated. The new ground and not being able to predict what would happen next made for a really interesting last 20% of the story.

All in all, it was a fun story and twist on a classic book.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: “Brightly Burning”

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