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.
Another day, another YA Jane Eyre retelling. Someone get me a triple shot of vodka please. Oh, I already used that in another review in recent past. Too bad using it again.
Seriously, though, I did not like this book. Big surprise. I feel like I’ve been saying that since Memorial Day. God will this slump ever fucking end?
Don’t answer that, I’ll probably be disappointed. To be fair, the last have been more meh reads than actual hate reads but still. Is it so much to ask for a decent Jane Eyre retelling? That was the question I kept asking myself as I read Brightly Burning and earlier in the weekend when I read My Plain Jane.
Unlike the previous book, Brightly Burning follows the source material pretty closely at least in regards to the romance. If anything it overly romanticizes things and diminishes things like Rochester’s age to make the book more appropriate.
No. Rochester is not nineteen it does not work. If you’re going to do a Jane Eyre retelling you should keep the ages of the characters relatively similar to the original.
I’m just saying the dynamics aren’t going to work if Rochester is nineteen which doesn’t even make sense with the weird ass world building that’s going on here.
So, essentially this is Jane Eyre in Space! Yeah, that’s literally what it is. The space part is pretty much thrown in there. They try to make Jane do something useful like be an engineer-I think Donne got that off of Cinder– but it really serves little purpose.
Much like Jane Eyre being in space served very little purpose.
The world building is pretty bad here. And I’m not that strict with world building. I mean, I can overlook a lot of things here but this literally screamed I’m going to set my story in space because that’s different and that equals a publishing contract.
I know, I know, I’m a very cynical person.
I think what the general consensus of wrong-ness with Jane Eyre retellings is that they just focus on a random element of the story-usually the romance-and fail to capture what really made the book a classic. I guess that’s expected since most of these YA writers are not near the caliber that Bronte was. BUT…I still could hope that a book might be able to capture the strength of Jane without making her seem too much of a Pollyanna or to recreate the Rochester/Jane dynamic showing its thrones and all and not romanticizing Rochester.
I digress though…
This book Pollyanna-izes Jane plus it adds sugar upon sugar to the Rochester/Jane relationship where it makes my teeth hurt.
I get it governess themed stories are popular, but if you want to do a Jane Eyre retelling, you probably will want to actually flesh out the characters and you know keep elements of the original. Meaning, don’t diminish certain plot points or try to justify Rochester’s actions to make the story.
Also, if you’re going to use space as your backdrop. Do some actual world building and not have a random plot hole that is our big twist.
Overall Rating: A C. It’s decent ( I guess).