Review Detail

 
Brightly Burning Featured
Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0

Eyre Space

An ambitious work of YA speculative fiction—a post-apocalyptic premise fused with the plot of a beloved classic.

I’d like to open my review with some necessary context: I love science fiction as a genre, and Jane Eyre happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. So, when I happened upon a book with proclaiming itself to be “Jane Eyre… IN SPACE,” I leaped at the chance to read it. At the same time, I had to approach it understanding this was an incredibly tall order to fill.

This retelling story is told in first-person past-tense, entirely from the perspective of 17-year-old Stella Ainsley. Stella is an orphan who splits her time between teaching young impoverished children, and functioning as a slightly above-par engineer—helping prolong the life of the decrepit spaceship she’s been forced to call home. (Although, she prefers the former career to the later.) When her search for a new life turns up an offer from a plush private vessel, she seizes the opportunity—unaware of The Rochester’s unsettling turnover rate…

Overall, I have to give the author credit. Not only was there an adaptive attempt to remain true to the brooding tone of the classic and its characters, there was at least some effort to stay within the realm of the scientifically plausible and away from the sci-fi-fantasy detour so many YAs seem to take.

What I Liked:

Stella is a likeable enough character; strong without being aggressive, and pragmatic without being dull. At times overly preoccupied with the visual appeal of males at some points. (Close to Jane Eyre in function rather than in maturity/personality.) Her motivations for wanting to leave her impoverished, dying home ship (the Stalwart) are completely believable—given the added kick of being romantically rejected by her best friend.

The chemistry between Hugo and Stella was a gradual build, mercifully lacking in insta-love. Their banter is enjoyable, and her habit of “saving” him while clinging to her own principles feels in keeping with the original spirit of the classic. Hugo is also his own character, but if one squints and imagines Bronte’s Mr. Rochester about 18 years younger, the moodiness vs. brilliance parallels do a convincing job.

The worldbuilding was sufficiently justified, and fairly unique in its conception. Apocalyptic Ice Age via super-volcano is something I’d yet to come across in a sci-fi realm largely dominated by manmade mass-extinction tropes. (It’s nice to occasionally be reminded that Earth is perfectly capable of eradicating mankind without our help.) The social stratification of the various orbital refugee ships was also viable, while also a sort of nod toward acknowledging the classism of England during Jane Eyre’s historical time period.
------------------

What Didn’t Work For Me:

-Some of the word choices/sayings felt too modern-day for a people group who have been in orbit of the Earth for 200+ years. The only newish word I noticed throughout the entire book was ‘Frex/Frexing’ (and yes, it is the explicative substitute you think it is.) On page 163 a character uses the term "jet lag", but after 200 years, I strongly suspect it would have logically mutated into "rocket lag” or some such that wouldn’t knock readers out of the futuristic believability. And the title “Governess” has such historical connotations, it felt oddly clunky in a sci-fi setting. (As did the general Victorian era throwback direction the culture had apparently taken, though I’m sure the aesthetic will greatly appeal to some readers.)

-Hugo’s status of 19-year-old ship’s captain was hard to buy—particularly since readers aren’t privileged with seeing him do much of anything by way of captaining. He’s the technical owner of the ship and has been since he was 14. He gives his people orders and presides over awkwardly pretentious dinner parties. But it’s clearly Officer Xiao who actually runs things and knows what’s what with the ship itself.

-Characterization (outside of Stella and Hugo) was a bit bland. You never really get to know the crew of the Rochester—or the transport pilot—outside of base impressions of their gender, ethnicity, and (in the case of Orion, Xiao, and pilot Sergei) implied sexual proclivities.

-The ship’s Artificial Intelligence, Rori, seemed inconsistent—as if it existed when convenient to the plot but was frequently forgotten about. Initially I really liked the A.I. and its apparent evolved quirks, so it was disappointing to see it go by the wayside for much of the story. It was perhaps too much to hope that she might add some extra eerie gothic notes to the plot.

-While the prose is serviceable, it doesn’t hold a candle to the evocative beauty of Bronte. (i.e. Sadly, I didn’t come across any quoteables I was tempted to re-read or write down.)
----------------

While diehard fans of Jane Eyre may not quite find satisfaction, I would still recommend this book for those who haven’t experienced the classic novel. Younger readers may even be inspired to give the classic a go if they first connect with this retelling.

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Mend A Story of Divorce
Sophia, the fourteen-year-old author and protagonist, tells the heart-wrenching story...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dungeons & Dragons: Into the Jungle: An Endless Quest Book
Welcome to the Forgotten Realms Endless Quest books, where you...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Dungeons & Dragons: Big Trouble: An Endless Quest Book
Welcome to the Forgotten Realms Endless Quest books, where you...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Clink A Story of Cyberbullying
Click is the heroic story of a young girl who...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stay Sweet
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
On Blood Road (A Vietnam War Novel)
The last place on earth Taylor Sorenson wants to be...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Courageous
Aiden is the son of a fisherman on the south...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II
In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party is gaining strength and becoming more...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
New Kid
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Watch Hollow
Deep within the enchanted woods in the town of Watch...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Giant Days
Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Unteachables
The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Tales from the Inner City
Tales from the Inner City is a collection of incredibly...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Gamer Army
After Rogan Webber levels up yet again on his favorite...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Eventown
The world tilted for Elodee this year, and now it’s...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Tom Gates Is Absolutely Fantastic (at Some Things) (#5)
 
5.0
"The big event in Tom's world is the upcoming School Activity Trip, but he might not be going! He forgot..."
Laugh-Out-Loud A+ Jokes for Kids (Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids)
 
3.5
"Yet another collection of clean kid’s jokes in the LOL series, this slim paperback offers fresh school-themed humor. As with..."
The Third Mushroom
 
4.0
"Ellie's grandfather Melvin, who turned himself into a teenager in The Fourteenth Goldfish, has gotten tired of traveling and has..."
The Bad Guys in Do-You-Think-He-Saurus?!: Special Edition (The Bad Guys #7)
 
4.0
"To recap the adventures of the Bad Guys so far: they were saving Earth from an alien invasion when their..."
The Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy #1)
 
5.0
"In this notebook novel, author Barnett explains to his readers what he did before he became a children's author. Because..."
The Little Girl Who Wanted to be Big
 
5.0
"Dave Engledow does it again with THE LITTLE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE BIG. All the little girl wants to..."
Fuzzy Freaks Out (Class Pets #3)
 
4.0
"Fuzzy and the other pets in Miss Wills' class 5-B are getting ready for Halloween. Fuzzy in particular is trying..."
Grow Up, David
 
4.0
"GROW UP, DAVID is all about having a sibling. David's brother is the typical older brother who doesn't want David..."
Zach King: The Magical Mix-Up (Zach King #2)
 
4.0
" Now that Zach has lost his magical powers (he could travel from place to place through magical ball caps),..."
Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man #5)
 
5.0
"Dog Man and Li'l Petey are back, making hydraulic roof ramps for their dog house with robot 80-HD and having..."
No, David!
 
5.0
"In NO, DAVID, David is always being corrected. Whether it's for tracking in mud or playing baseball in the house,..."
Bobbie Mendoza Saves the World (Again)
 
4.0
"When imaginary creatures are released into the real world, it's up to Bobbie Mendoza to save the day. Bobbie faces..."
Funny Kid #2: Stand Up
 
4.5
"After his attempts to run for class president in Funny Kid for President, Max has decided that his identity is..."
Welcome to Wonderland #3: Sandapalooza Shake-Up
 
4.0
"P.T. and Gloria have saved the Wonderland Motel, and now because of the celebrity tie-in with the Surf Monkey movie,..."
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School
 
5.0
"Waldo and Sassy are hard working dogs who scour the floor for meatballs and keep their humans' house safe from..."
Stu Truly
 
5.0
"Stu generally hangs out playing video games with his friend Ben, who torments him about some of his past exploits,..."
Class Action
 
5.0
"Sam is tired of homework. It's not that he wants to do nothing but play video games when he gets..."
How to Be a Supervillain: Born to Be Good (#2)
 
4.0
"How to Be a Supervillain: Born to Be Good turned out to be such a fun read! It's about a..."
Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen
 
4.0
"Ernestine and her little brother Charleston are trying to bring on the zombie apocalypse. After doing a spell, they believe..."
The Tale of Angelino Brown
 
4.0
"When Bert discovers the tiny angel named Angelino in his pocket, he doesn't know what to think. Bert takes Angelino..."