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Bright Burning Stars

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  934 ratings  ·  335 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by Algonquin Young Readers
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Christine I hope you found it a public library. :)

Downloading pirated copies of an author's book can hurt the author's proceeds and, in some cases, determines w…more
I hope you found it a public library. :)

Downloading pirated copies of an author's book can hurt the author's proceeds and, in some cases, determines whether or not series can be finished. If an author isn't selling enough books in a series the series can be cancelled halfway through.(less)

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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Books about dance and ballet are so compelling; it is a strict discipline that requires physical and intellectual fortitude. Add into the mix the usual blend of angst and poor decision making found in your typical young adult book, with a dash of cutthroat competition, and you have BRIGHT BURNING STARS: a book about a prestigious ballet school near Paris where failure means elimination, and success means sacrificing everything.

Marine an
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dining-room-1
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
Berit Talks Books
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it

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?“
alana ♡
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“What would you do for the prize?"

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
Amy Imogene Reads
3.5 stars

Happy Pub Day!

Bright Burning 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.

Setting: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Compelling factor: ★★★★
Discussion of problematic topics: I did not like certain elements.

I've included a
Kristy K
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.

Bright Burning Stars touches on ballet culture, eating d
Sherwood Smith
May 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: dance
In my own mind, ballet or dance books fall into two categories: those that focus on the euphoria of performance, especially when aware that one is dancing their best, and then there are those that look at the darker side of dance.

Take a glance at the cover. Pretty, isn’t it?

But look at that dancer’s eyes. It’s a very suitable cover for this book, centered around a pair of dancers at the prestigious Paris Opera House ballet school in Paris. These two girls swear eternal friendship—while competi
Larry H
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, blog-tour
4.5 stars.

Drama and angst and jealousy at a Parisian ballet academy? Sign me up for A.K. Small's Bright Burning Stars !

Marine and Kate have been roommates and best friends for years at the Paris Opera Ballet School. They’ve both weathered moments of emotional and physical exhaustion, backbiting rivalries, and constant pressure to be at the top of their game dance-wise or be sent home.

But as they enter their final year, the desire to win the ultimate prize becomes even stronger. Only one femal
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Algonquin Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, fiction
4 Stars for Bright Burning Stars (audiobook) by A. K. Small read by Saskia Maarleveld. This was a great story. Ballet school in France — what’s not to like? I might be biased but I love ballet. I enjoy any chance I get to see what it’s like in that world. The narration was good too.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc, ya
ok. ok. I love a dance movie/book, so when I skimmed the description on NetGalley, my brain understood "French ballet boarding school" and downloaded it immediately.

This was...fine. I liked the ballet stuff, though there's not much here that's groundbreaking if you've ever seen/read any other dance movie/book. Eating disorders? Sexually charged dance partners? Gross ouchy feet? You don't say. But that stuff is all done well, if you're into that kind of thing, which I am.

A linguistic pet peeve:
Ashlee » libraryinthecountry
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
View blog tour post on my blog Library in the Country

Bright Burning Stars is a tumultuous, dramatic and frenzied read that shows the dark side of a competitive ballet school, in the vein of Black Swan.

Best friends Marine and Kate would do almost anything to win the coveted Prize … to become one of the students retained for the Paris Opera’s ballet company. The problem? There is only room for one male and female pair. Despite their friendship, Marine and Kate are rivals and their loyalties to eac
I bought this when I visited my best friend in May but it was Nenia's review that pushed me to pick this up when my book-confidence was running low (bookslumps suck!)

This was an intense and beautiful book. Made me glad I wasn't a part of the dancing world.. I don't know if I could survive the competitive atmosphere and the intensity of it.
You have to admire dancers and gymnasts... the control over their bodies and the artistry blows me away sometimes... well, all the time :)

At times I wanted to
I read to 50% and then skipped to the last two chapters.

I was 1000% here for the murder-y sounding synopsis. I expected a little more of a mystery type story than cutthroat ambition.

I didn’t really connect to either Kate or Marine. Both of their POVs sounded the same to me and a couple of times I had to go back to find out whose head I was in. All of the other characters are quite flat, no one felt fleshed out and if it’s on purpose, it did a great job of showing how the girls were alienated.
Vicky Again
I SPED through this book (started it this morning) and it was very compelling although I have mixed feelings about some of it!

Content Warnings (super huge + definitely recommend you look at these if you have any triggers): (view spoiler)
The Nerd Daily
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Tasha Leigh

Bright Burning Stars is the tale of two prima ballerina hopefuls and their journey through their year as first class “rats” at the prestigious Nanterre Ballet Academy. Having been friends since they were in Division 6, Marine and Kate have each other’s backs regardless of their position in life and will support each other to the very end. Each after a single coveted spot with the Paris Opera, they are determined that one of them will
”I think we owe each other one last dance, don’t you?”

First thing first: this book has a lot of triggers. Know that. Go read another review that has a full list.

I also have a lot to say about the cover. Small was robbed; there were so many better possibilities there.

The ending was a bit disappointing; it felt like a lot of stuff was brushed over (view spoiler). But I did like Marine's romance.

Full review to come.
Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.)

I'm very grateful to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review & I'm so sorry for the lateness of my review!

This book ended up being a different experience than I expected, this doesn't mean that it was a negative experience as a whole, only I found a heavier book, full of topics that could be triggering for many readers, so I want to begin my review recommending discretion to those who decide to read it, as it contains sensitive topics suc
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, bt-e-book, fiction, 2019
Read this review and others on my blog: https://thriftybibliophile.com

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small is about an elite ballet school and the ballerinas who will stop at nothing to succeed.

Dancers at Nanterre are under immense pressure to perform perfectly and stay slender. They bend and break their bodies, push themselves to impossible limits, and batter their self-esteems. They’re all after one thing: to be offered a spot with a prestigious company of dancers. They refer to it as “the prize
Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)
"Compulsively Readable" The best description I've seen so far of this book!

Remember that Natalie Portman movie Black Swan? That was my first glimpse into the intense competition that goes on in the ballet world. Picture that level of competition, obsession, and desire to be the best - but add in being a teenager and dealing with boys? A whole nother level of insecurity, desperation and ambition!

Marine and Kate are among the best of the best at the Paris Opera Ballet School and also the best of f
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha (WLABB)
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Would you die for The Prize?"

This was the question Marine, Kate, and all the other First Division dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet School were asking themselves, as they began their final year of training. This was their last opportunity to prove they deserved the top spot, and the company position that came with it. However, only two - one male and one female, would get The Prize.

I have read several books set in the world of elite ballet, and like those, this was intense. Like most of the oth
Inside Nanterre School for Dance reside two best friends, Marine and Kate, who–among the other girls in their class–are competing for the one top spot dancing with the top male. Bright Burning Stars did an excellent job of capturing the cattiness and petty atmosphere that can reign in a competitive atmosphere like this. I don’t have experience with dance, but I went to school for opera where people are vying for lead roles in a show and believe me, when you have spent your life training for some ...more
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, young-adult
I just love the setting of this amazing and propulsive read set at the Paris Opera Ballet School where the competition is fierce and even deadly. I adored this story and I just knew it was written by a dancer herself.

Small truly captured not only the story within the dance world and the high stakes competition, but also a story about friendships, pushing yourself in your own craft and realizing your dreams. In this deftly plotted story, the emotions and the angstiness of the story is truly visc
Paula  Phillips
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
In the world of Ballet, it's definitely a dog eat dog world as the only one can ever become the best, and in order to be the best, you have to strive for perfection and sacrifice everything around you from your weight , comforts of your life, free time and sometimes friendships can be broken and destroyed , all in the name of scoring that big part in the ballet shows. Best friends Marine and Kate have trained together since they were little at the Paris Opera Ballet School. For years, it has bee ...more
Dec 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
I received a gifted copy of this book yo read in exchange for an honest review as part of the book tour hosted by Algonquin books.

Trigger warnings: Abortion, eating disorders, body dismorphia, mental illness, suicide.

Bright Burning Stars is a book about toxic, unhealthy friendships and a test to see how far you would go to win.
Kate and Marine are best friends - bonding over tragedy and dancing from the day they met. The big day of the Corps de ballet is fast approaching and both girls are compet
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bright Burning Stars was a pretty good ballet book. It definitely reminded me of Dance of Shadows a bit. In it, you will meet two best friends Kate and Marine (sometimes referred to K or M). They are enrolled into an elite ballet school that resides in Paris, France. Now this little class is severely cutthroat but it was a bit boring to read about. I just feel like the pacing was a bit all over the place. Then the characters wou
Sheila G
See this full review along with others on my blog: foalsfictionandfiligree.com

I received an ARC of this book via Netgcalley, Edelweiss, and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.


Content Warning: Overall dark and depressing tone, Depression, Self Harm, Underaged Drinking, Smoking, Sex, Forced miscarriage, Self-harm, Anorexia, Drug abuse, Suicide idealization, Death
”If you w
You can also read this review on my blog illbefinealonereads.

A huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be a part of this blog tour.

Bright Burning Stars pulled me in with the first sentence and it didn’t let go.
I found it to be very well-written, I liked Small’s writing style. The voices she gave the characters suited the story well and I have to note that the multiple POV was pulled off really well. The plot was intriguing and well paced, I really enjoyed it - it just felt fresh
Brianna - Four Paws and a Book
This book is not for the faint at heart... There are some disturbing things that these girls go through in order to be the best at what they do and it's so sad that this isn't exaggerated. These things really do happen in elite sports.
Trigger warnings for drug use, eating disorders and talk of extreme weight loss, teenage pregnancy and abortion, sports injuries, mental abuse, non-consensual sex, teenage sex and probably more that I missed. This book is dark
I went into this book with an open m
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