By Cynthia Bujnicki
Caught by surprise, her masters killed in the night, Andra is caught up in a rebellion she had no place in. However, when a mysterious purple dragon connects with her, Andra finds that her strength lies deep within her, and a power she never had that could hold the key to ending the tyranny around her for good.
Published by Tor Teen, Bright Star by Erin Swan is a standalone young adult fantasy.
Bright Star is a novel that has a slow start. It is interesting to see the set up of this work and the way it addresses slavery and sexism. Andra is an indentured servant, bound by a contract and a magical collar that binds her to her masters. Her position leads to Andra’s emotional, mental, and physical abuse that costs her the life of her mother, the loss of her voice and the loss of her strength. Then once Kaell enters her life, kidnapping her and dragging her long to the rebellion.
The way the novel starts does not offer the reader much in the direction of the novel. It almost seems as if the novel is going to be about something else, and yet once it takes off, the pacing of the story flows in a steady direction, keeping the reader engaged in the story and the characters. There is some predictability in the novel, and yet it is only predictable to the reader. There is a prophecy in the story that the characters mention repeatedly, and yet the obviousness of it never dawns on the characters, they reference it and go about their journey, going back to it to justify their actions and enforce their goals. Their obliviousness is a refreshing take because it is not essential to the story for the characters to see it the way the reader does. It does not serve as a distraction for the characters or the reader, and it does not take away from the overall story, which is all about Andra’s journey.
As much as this is a fantasy story with dragons and rebel fighters going against a tyrannical government, the story is more about Andra’s journey. In the beginning, she is a young girl with a fire inside her, a fire that is snuffed out by the abuse o f her master who punishes her in horrendous ways. It is a cruel beginning for her, but one that allows the reader to sympathize with her. Her voice is gone, but more than that, her belief and love of herself is also gone. Moreover, by using her kidnapping as a way to free her, Andra rediscovers her worth and her voice, learning that both are dependent on herself, on how she sees herself not how others see her. It is a long journey, but one that makes the story worthwhile because it offers immeasurable character development, giving depth to a story that is reminiscent of other stories.
Bright Star a story that shows readers that no matter the darkness that surrounds a person, they can come back from it, they can fight it both literally and figuratively, and find a way to make peace with the past to live happily in the present.
Now, as far as the two male characters went, regarding Kael, as much as his narrative worked to balance out certain parts of the story, his perspective does not seem all that essential to the overall growth of the story. It works to show events outside of Andra’s scope, but other than just being a plot device, his voice does not add much to the story.
In the end, however, the story was a smooth one. It had a beautiful fluidity to it that made the reading easy, and gripping character development to keep the reader invested. (★★★★☆)