Bright Burning Stars

Bright Burning Stars

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the...

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Title:Bright Burning Stars
Author:A.K. Small
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Bright Burning Stars Reviews

  • Alana • thebookishchick

    Well...for starters I was not expecting this to be as dark as it was, however, that made it all the more difficult to put this one down.  Ever since I watched Black Swan years ago I became super intrigued at how cutthroat the ballet/dance world is. The time and dedication dancers put into perfecting their look, their body, and their moves is both amazing and horrifying at times to see the lengths some of these dancers will go to. This book absolutely nailed that

    Well...for starters I was not expecting this to be as dark as it was, however, that made it all the more difficult to put this one down.  Ever since I watched Black Swan years ago I became super intrigued at how cutthroat the ballet/dance world is. The time and dedication dancers put into perfecting their look, their body, and their moves is both amazing and horrifying at times to see the lengths some of these dancers will go to. This book absolutely nailed that fine line of amazement and horror.

    Marine and Kate, are both dancers at Nanterre, think a super elite dance school in Paris. Initially, Marine and Kate make a pact that they will do everything they can to win the Prize together, which essentially is an opportunity for the best dancer to join the dance company. But as the competition gets closer the girls know only one of them will make it and both of them will do whatever it takes to win that spot, even if it means ruining their friendship. I can't say that I was smitten by either of the characters because they're really not lovable people and I wasn't rooting for one more than the other, however, due to how fast paced this book is I still found myself racing to see how it ends regardless of not really loving either of the girls.

    Now, on to how dark this book got! First and foremost, please know that this paragraph will be about the trigger warnings in this book, but some may also find these to be semi-spoilery - so please

    . This book tackles some heavy issues, ones that I was not expecting to be so severe but I'm sure are also a very common thing in the competitive dance world. For me personally, these did not change the way I felt about the book but in fact made the story that much more compelling and left me desperate to know how it ends. Some of the topics you can expect in this book are drug use, abortion, grief of a loved one, parental abandonment, eating disorders, suicide/suicide attempt, and body dysmorphia. So yeah, some pretty heavy stuff and while at first I was nervous how this was all going to be handled I do have to say that it definitely does take a more positive turn in the end.

    While I won't give away the ending just know I was extremely happy with it. Books that tackle heavy topics like this and end on an open ended note have a special place in my heart. All in all, this was a fantastic debut and I absolutely cannot wait to read more by this author. As a dancer herself you can tell how much of her heart and soul she poured into this book to bring it to life.

    is out now and definitely deserves a spot on your TBR. Trust me, you won't be able to put this one down.

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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Marine and Kate have attended the Paris Opera Ballet School since they were tiny. The two are the best of friends and have bonded over tragedy and dance.

    Just before their final year of school, a student is found murdered. This makes the girls question how far they would go to win. Winning means being selected to join the corps de ballet. There are many desperate options.

    Each girl gets closer to the top placed male dancer…this happens at the same time.

    Selection day approaches, and the girls are

    Marine and Kate have attended the Paris Opera Ballet School since they were tiny. The two are the best of friends and have bonded over tragedy and dance.

    Just before their final year of school, a student is found murdered. This makes the girls question how far they would go to win. Winning means being selected to join the corps de ballet. There are many desperate options.

    Each girl gets closer to the top placed male dancer…this happens at the same time.

    Selection day approaches, and the girls are now competing for both this guy and the corps. Their friendship lies in the balance.

    Bright Burning Stars captures the drama and cattiness that can occur behind the scenes in dance troupes. I took dance several years ago, and I remember the competition amongst dancers. It was fierce! The author was a dancer, and she has plenty of insight and real-life experience adding to this novel and making it feel even more authentic.

    Bright Burning Stars is a book about competition versus friendship, and how to win and have it all, we may have to lose those closest to us. Is it ever worth the sacrifice?

    I loved how the tension mounted as the corps selection approached. I felt an anxiety along with the characters. I intuited the pressure that each dancer feels, through their painful feet, all the way to their shaking hands. Overall, I found Bright Burning Stars to be an exciting and dramatic read.

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Berit☀️✨

    ᏗᏬᏖᏂᏋᏁᏖᎥፈ. ᏗᏰᏕᎧᏒᏰᎥᏁᎶ. ᎴᏗᏒᏦ.

    A.K. Small’s debut is authentic, absorbing, and dark. Marine and Kate have trained their entire lives to be ballet dancers. They are attending an elite ballet school in Paris. A rigorous competitive program with weekly rankings and only one female and one mail dancer earning a spot in the company at the end of it all. Kate and Marine have always been the best of friends, but can their friendship survive as the competition gets hotter?“What would you do for the prize?“

    ᏗᏬᏖᏂᏋᏁᏖᎥፈ. ᏗᏰᏕᎧᏒᏰᎥᏁᎶ. ᎴᏗᏒᏦ.

    A.K. Small’s debut is authentic, absorbing, and dark. Marine and Kate have trained their entire lives to be ballet dancers. They are attending an elite ballet school in Paris. A rigorous competitive program with weekly rankings and only one female and one mail dancer earning a spot in the company at the end of it all. Kate and Marine have always been the best of friends, but can their friendship survive as the competition gets hotter?“What would you do for the prize?“

    The competition, the pain, the stress, it was all so intense. Marine had amazing musicality and danced for her twin brother Ollie who had passed away. Kate has tremendous passion and a fire in her belly that was fueled when her mother abandoned her. Both girls had likable and not so likable qualities. I felt for them because they were living such a competitive life. I’d imagine being judged and raided every single week would lead to tremendous jealousy. There was always that nagging question of what would you do? How far would you go? The girls had even created a game around it, but at some point it’s as though the game turned into reality.

    This book also addressed many serious issues such as eating disorders, depression, abortion, obsession, and drug use. I applaud the author for taking these issues on, I’m sure they are prevalent in the dance world. However, I kind of felt as though these issues were just glossed over with no real resolution or consequence. This is a young adult book and I do want to make it clear that these issues were also not glorified, they just probably needed some more comprehensive discussion. My daughter was a competitive dancer (yes I was a dance mom) certainly not at this level, but I did find a lot of this very relatable. Made me wonder though how this would appeal to people without much dance knowledge? There is a lot of dance terminology, not that you need to know it to understand the book. But this is a book about dance, the dance world, the dancers, end it is dark. And it is real. And it is raw. Just like the dancers leave it all on the stage, Miss Small left it all on the pages of this book.

    *** many thanks to Algonquin for my copy of this book ***

  • Amy Imogene Reads

    3.5 stars

    is compelling, feverish, and claustrophobically competitive—but its trigger warnings and character arcs were hard for me. This is the case of a story that was written well, described well, and covered a unique place setting in YA....but ultimately did not work for me to due its handling of dark themes.

    ★★★★★

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★★

    I did not like certain elements.

    3.5 stars

    is compelling, feverish, and claustrophobically competitive—but its trigger warnings and character arcs were hard for me. This is the case of a story that was written well, described well, and covered a unique place setting in YA....but ultimately did not work for me to due its handling of dark themes.

    ★★★★★

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★★

    I did not like certain elements.

    follows the split POVs of two best friends, Kate and Marine, who are enrolled in their final year as Division One students at an elite ballet training school in Paris, France. Division One is ruthless, cutthroat, and unrelenting in its drive to win—at the end of the year, only one boy and one girl receive the Prize out of the handful of final year students. Enter the unhealthy competitiveness of the ballet industry that is forever immortalized in narratives such as

    , etc.

    .

    Kate and Marine find themselves dealing with their own individual insecurities and disorders over the course of the year in their drive to win the final Prize.

    It's not a perfect love triangle (it's actually pretty unique), but it's there in concept.

    is

    —she uses her relationship with Marine to make herself feel better, no matter the cost.

    and in my opinion, it fell into some problematic descriptions. Kate needs the approval of others and the feeling of success at the expense of those around her. In addition to blurring the lines of the professional and the friendly, Kate also

    —but more on that later.

    used to have a twin, but he passed away tragically and left her with the self-imposed burden of completing his dream of making it in the Parisian ballet scene without him. Marine is not "naturally thin" (whatever that means in this context, as she obviously is quite trim by default as a ballet student).

    as she attempts to internally compete with the thinner ballet students through an eating disorder that develops over the course of the novel.

    , and I was on board. BUT

    that occurred for each of them. This is not a wholesome novel, filled with happy endings. Like life it is messy, not always politically correct, and leaves you wanting more of an ending.

    On the one hand,

    . The writing was good, and the plot was unputdownable. I literally could not stop reading this story. However, I really struggled with the handling of several of the issues discussed. I think

    was here to share its truth in a raw, unflinching light—and it definitely succeeded. It just was not a favorite for me.

    *****

    Original notes: Ahhhhh it’s coming out this month! I should probably read the ARC now, yeah? Can’t wait to dive into the cutthroat world of the Paris Opera Ballet in this YA.

  • Kristy K

    I fell in love with this cover and was eager to read this book. I love books with dance in them and thought this would offer a good glimpse into the competitiveness of ballet. However, I have never been a fan of toxic female relationships; there are few books I've read where I thought that was done successfully. Unfortunately, there was a lot of problematic issues that stemmed from Marine and Kate's friendship and not all were handled well.

    touches on ballet culture, eating d

    I fell in love with this cover and was eager to read this book. I love books with dance in them and thought this would offer a good glimpse into the competitiveness of ballet. However, I have never been a fan of toxic female relationships; there are few books I've read where I thought that was done successfully. Unfortunately, there was a lot of problematic issues that stemmed from Marine and Kate's friendship and not all were handled well.

    touches on ballet culture, eating disorders, abortion, and toxic relationships (both friendship and romantic). It was a lot of serious topics, probably too many to tackle in one book, and I wasn't a fan of how many were handled. I wish they would have been explored in more detail and fleshed out better.

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