Pooja (On books!)'s Reviews > Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent
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's review
Aug 20, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-stars, best-of-2012, ohmyeffingodsobrilliant
Read from August 20 to October 22, 2012

Review (originally posted on my blog) + Giveaway of the book: http://aandhowareyou.blogspot.in/2012...

Julia and Reed.

Modern-day versions of Romeo and Juliet.

This should be easy, you might think. Their fates are locked the minute their eyes meet and are made to read the parts of Romeo and Juliet in English class.

I felt uneasy as I started reading Defy The Stars, the opening verses setting the tempo to a relationship that was doomed from the start. Julia, after all, is well-off while Reed is from the wrong drug-infested side of town. And we all know how Romeo and Juliet ends.

What was the point, then of falling in love with these characters?

And yet, when Julia dismissed the conception of love at first sight and Reed quietly justifies it, I realised that Defy The Stars was a modern adaptation in the truest sense. It was multi-layered and more intense than I'd ever expected it to be.

"I see what Julia's saying," he starts, "but the way Shakespeare writes... Just 'cause a feeling doesn't make sense, doesn't mean it's not right, you know?"

Julia is devoted to playing the piano. She hopes to get into a prestigious music conservatory. Reed is a stoner and branded a slacker whose life will amount to nothing.

When their paths cross... they instantaneously forget that a life when they got by without really knowing each other even existed.

Their lives are hopelessly intertwined, especially when tragedy strikes and Julia's parents and Reed's brother will not rest until they cut ties with the other.

It's devastating. It crushes them more than they ever thought it would.

This is the part when I felt swayed by the rhythm... carried away by the remorse and arousal and urgency and enamored with their story. This is the part when Defy the Stars felt more than just another Romeo and Juliet adaptation and I was swept away by the complexity of the tale and the parallels drawn from the classic.

The dirty drug world, the hauntingly beautiful piano pieces played by Julia and the intensity of Reed's gaze... their histories, their relationship outside each other and the melodies which soar and then are tainted by melancholy. Reed's guitar riffs, the hopelessness and the urgency to overcome it...

The free-verse brought each and every aspect of this book alive until I could feel myself in Julia's skin, struggling to hit the right note and make sense of her relationship with Reed. Her fingers ran across the keys, transcending technique until each note was entrenched with feeling. I felt her desperation to make their relationship work against all odds as her heart overpowered her mind.

And the ending truly blew me away... In my opinion, it couldn't have been more true to how things would've panned out for Romeo and Juliet in the current decade. It was utterly devastating yet poignant. And unlike the classic, I could come to terms with it.

Defy the Stars is an indie gem. I urge you to give it a try, especially if you're fond of modern-day adaptations. I was moved by this beautifully written tale and blown away by how well developed and multi-layered the characters were. I felt one with the pace of the story and when it ended, I couldn't stop myself from rating it on Goodreads right away; the remnants of Julia's last actions still lingering in my mind.
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