Review: Burn Bright

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Burn BrightBurn Bright by Bethany Frenette
Series: Dark Star #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 25, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository

Audrey Whitticomb saved her entire city.

Well, kind of. The superhero Morning Star (who just happens to be Audrey's mom) might have played a small part, and her sidekick, Leon—Audrey's sort-of boyfriend, who is gorgeous... and frustrating—maybe helped, too.

But after two peaceful months, there is a vicious new threat in Minneapolis. Her name is Susannah, and she's a Harrower, a demon hell-bent on destroying people like Morning Star, Leon, and Audrey—the Kin. Like others before her, she seeks the Remnant, a Kin girl who has the power to unleash the inhabitants of the Beneath. But to what end?

Audrey already has a ton on her plate: dealing with her best friend Tink's boy drama, helping her other best friend Gideon figure out his nightmares, and exploring the highs and lows of "dating" Leon. But when she develops a powerful new ability, Audrey seizes on the chance to fight, despite her mother's protests and Leon's pleas.

As Audrey gets closer to figuring out Susannah's motives and tracking down the Remnant, she'll uncover more than she bargained for. The terrible truth is staring Audrey in the face. But knowing the truth and accepting it are very different things.

Doubting myself comes pretty naturally sometimes. Even when I really like something, when everyone else isn’t impressed, I think maybe I was wrong. That’s how I felt about Dark Star. Well, in this case, I’m TOTALLY right, because Burn Bright is every bit as fun, bantery and action-packed as I remember Dark Star being. These books are awesome, and more people need to get on the fan train with me to flail over the swoons and the laughs.

By the way, I’m going to keep this free of spoilers for Dark Star, something I usually don’t do, because I don’t think this has enough buzz and I want you to let me convince you.

While I wouldn’t quite say I was in a slump going into Burn Bright, I was definitely in a bit of malaise. In the week running up to it, I had a string of reads, of which a 3 star was the best rating and DNFed two books, one of which made me rage and the other of which literally gave me a headache. I needed something GOOD to pull me out of this, and Burn Bright was precisely the book I needed.

There are SO many wonderful things about this series. First of all, Audrey Whitticomb has a fabulous narrative voice. She’s funny, confident, and very much in her own skin. Then, there are her two best friends, Gideon and Tink. I love the friendships so much, because 1) they’re male/female friendships without any romantic drama, 2) they all really care about one another, and 3) though Tink is more popular with boys, Audrey isn’t jealous of her at all. Healthy friendships in YA! This is something to be treasured, yo.

Speaking of healthy relationships, can we talk about Audrey and her mom? Sure, Audrey’s down one parent, but she is not remotely neglected. Her mother may be busy being the superhero Morning Star, but she loves and parents her daughter. They have a really close relationship, though not quite Gilmore Girls close. Audrey jokes with her friends and family in this way that strikes me as incredibly realistic. In both books, the humor and affection in the dialog really jived with me.

On top of all that, the plot of Burn Bright is pretty fabulous. While I was caught off guard and unsure about the end of Dark Star, I’m totally on board now; my problem was more of expectation. Burn Bright is one of those books that manages to be both flufftastic and dark all at once. There’s an art to getting that sort of tone right, and Frenette totally owns it. Though at times Burn Bright reads like a fluffy romance, at others it’s dark and dangerous and I’m just saying you should maybe worry about the characters.

Perhaps my favorite thing here though is how trope-aware Frenette seems to be. The villain, Susannah, is super creepy. Not only that, but she actually thinks. Unlike a lot of superhero villains, she’s not going to stand around chatting with the heroes until they can come up with a plot. She’s crafty and plans. She makes use of any resources at her disposal. Unlike a lot of novels, the villain really does seem like a problem.

Also, on the trope-awareness scale is the treatment of the romance. Now, I totally shipped the couple in the previous book, but they definitely had some complications because of events. Certain paranormal factors in their relationship totally seem like they would skew the relationship to the whole “man must protect woman” caveman vibe that so many romance novels have. Let’s just say that, while this is dealt with head on, Audrey’s not the kind of girl to go for something like that. Frenette resolved that in the best possible way for the given situation.

As much as I loved this, I’m not quite going for the full rating here. For the most part, I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I think it’s that I wanted more. Maybe another fifty pages to delve further into the friendships? I love Gideon and Tink, and more of them would not have gone amiss. I’d also have liked a little bit more of a window into the burgeoning love life of Audrey’s mom, though this would admittedly be tricky through Audrey’s POV.

Burn Bright blows Dark Star out of the water. This is without a doubt one of my favorite paranormal series. If you’re a reader who likes your books dark and bloody, all while retaining a sense of humor, Bethany Frenette’s Dark Star series is a must read. Could I please have book three immediately?

Favorite Quote:

“This won’t be easy.”

He meant our relationship, I supposed. “Our favorite sport is arguing,” I said. “Was it ever going to be easy?”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Feelings, riiiight. Incidentally, this is also how I picture Tink.

Feelings, riiiight. Incidentally, this is also how I picture Tink.

7 responses to “Review: Burn Bright”

  1. Shannon N. says:

    I love this review so much. I randomly picked up Dark Star from the library shelf last year and almost didn’t read it because I wasn’t too sure about the whole “superhero” thing. But man, I am sure glad I did. Talk about a dark horse! I wish this book got more attention too because I thought it was a really fun, solid effort. I love the way you described it was being flufftastic and dark at the same time, because that is perfectly accurate. I can’t wait to read Burn Bright…especially after reading your review. C’mon library!

  2. Anya says:

    So I definitely enjoyed this book better than the first (I hadn’t been shipping the main relationship and found the development at the end rather abrupt, but apparently I’m oblivious 😉 ). However, I can’t figure out what these covers are supposed to be >.> Why is Audrey wearing her mom’s sweatshirt??
    Anya recently posted…Sci-fi and Fantasy Friday {SF/F Reviews and Giveaways}My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Hahaha, that is super true. I’m not wild about the covers. They’re nice from a distance, but I don’t know why she’s got her mom’s sweatshirt or why the girl from Delirium is in this book.

  3. Aww I’m really glad you liked this one! I still need to read Dark Star, but I’m glad that Audrey’s voice is compelling and great to be in. I love when a character is always comfortable in their own skin and doesn’t give the air of insecurity, which can sometimes be good but other times can be annoying. Also, it’s so great that Audrey and her mother’s relationship is well done. It seems like that never happens in the books anymore, and nobody wants to focus on that aspect. Fantastic review, though, Christina! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…The Agent’s Daughter by Ron Corriveau Tour StopMy Profile

  4. Nori says:

    This sounds wonderful! You’ve convinced me to read the sequel for sure. I did enjoy the first one too, but I kind of forgot about it until this review. And it’s usually not a good sign if I forget about a series…I just haven’t seen a lot of reviews for these I guess, which is weird. Why aren’t more people picking up a girl superhero book?
    Nori recently posted…A Good Week in Books (67)My Profile

  5. Jenni says:

    Umm so I think I need to make a trip to the book store! I love that the friendships work so well for you here, especially that they are male/female and manage to not going into romantical territory. I’m happy that you decided to keep this spoiler free for the first book because these ones went totally under my radar and now ME WANT!
    Jenni recently posted…Review: Alienated by Melissa LandersMy Profile

  6. This review is so good! I read Dark Star and loved it; I thought it was really a book that could become quite popular if more people knew about it, and I was so dying to get burn bright on NetGalley but was rejected, my poor feelings! This review tells me everything I wanted to hear and I’m so damn excited to be reading it soon! I’m pretty glad there’s actual people out there who know of this book and like it, I’m not so alone anymore! 😀 Fantastic review!
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…December/January Re-CapMy Profile

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