Hi All! It’s Becky. I received an ARC of Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne many years ago at a conference and then I bought the audiobook on Audible a couple of years ago but I never actually got to reading it. I finally got the chance to listen to the audiobook and I was surprised by how much I liked this science-fiction take on Jane Eyre. Here are my thoughts:
Title: Brightly Burning
Author: Alexa Donne
Note: I listened to the audiobook.
Summary: Stella Ainsley has spent the last few years as an engineering apprentice on the Stalwart as it orbits the Earth. Stella dreams of more than following in her father’s footsteps into the engineering department of failing spaceship. She wants to leave her ship to find her own destiny and Stella jumps at the chance to become a tutor on the Rochester. Once Stella is on the Rochester she begins to uncover a mystery of the ship and its tragic past. Stella knows that she should be careful about her new life but she can’t stop herself from connecting with the crew and developing feelings with the captain/owner nineteen-year-old Hugo. Can Stella find happiness on the Rochester or will the ship’s legacy lead to her demise?
Review: I have a complicated relationship with Jane Eyre. I really enjoy updated adaptations of the classic novel but I have never actually been able to get all the way through Bronte’s novel. Dunne’s adaptation was one more successful modernization for me. I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed Stella’s journey from her safe childhood home to the possibly haunted Rochester. Donne takes her time to establish Stella as a smart girl who understands the world but wants to change society’s expectations. She doesn’t care that she is born into the lower class she knows that she deserves to have a good life. She was easy to like as was her troubled love interest Hugo who was all broodiness and charm. I wanted Stella and Hugo to find a happily ever after from the first page and couldn’t wait for them to declare their love. I also appreciated the simple changes Donne made with Hugo’s complicated family situation. It would be uncomfortable for a teen girl to fall in love with the father of her pupil however adjusting the plot to feature the brother felt like it stays true to the original novel while making the story feel a little modern. The book plows along at a pace that mimics Bronte’s book which may make some young readers frustrating however I found it to be a nice nod at the classic Victorian novel. Brightly Burning works great as a modern adaptation of the classic novel that may have narrow audience appeal however the right readers will be truly taken with Stella’s story.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5