THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!! I recently finished Bright Star by Erin Swan, which was the August Unicorn Crate book. I have been trying to check my past sub-box books off my TBR, and have been working oldest to newest. Unfortunately, this one was NOT for me. Before I begin my
rant review, let’s get a quick synopsis.
Paerolia has been at peace for two centuries, and all is well in the land—or so it seems. Beneath the surface, a tyrant is rising to power.
A traumatic experience in Andra’s childhood has left her mute and subdued, a servant in the Chief Judge’s manor. But when an assassination team, led by the secretive and alluring Kael, infiltrates the manor and makes a quick escape, she takes her chance and flees with them.
Andra is thrust into the ranks of a secret rebellion—a group of outcasts and believers seeking to overthrow the Chief Judge and replace the corrupt government with new members, ones who will restore and preserve the land they love. Now, the girl who was once an outcast must somehow become the leader Paerolia needs. But she is stronger than she believes—and with the help of a fiercely loyal dragon, she may just be the one to lead them all to victory.
Okay. So I don’t usually share reviews for books I rated on the lower end of the scale (in fact, I had to go make a new graphic because I didn’t have one with the right number of stars), but I just had so many thoughts about this book. This is where the spoilers start, so beware.
My biggest issue with this book was the fact that it seemed to take ALL OF THE HISTORY straight from the world of Alagaësia aka the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Now, this may have been EXTRA obvious to me since I literally just finished re-reading that series, but I definitely would have picked up on it even if that hadn’t been the case. From as early as Page 14 I noticed similarities, and it got to the point where I started keeping notes on my phone to keep track! Let’s take a look, shall we?
So…yeah. These were just some of the glaringly obvious bits. And glaringly obvious is the correct term.
Moving past the lack of original worldbuilding, let’s discuss the characters. The description talks about Andra being mute from trauma. This is the case, for a bit. I mean, I def agree that her experience was hella traumatic and horrible, and her retreating into a shell of herself was not surprising. What *did* surprise me, however, was how quickly she seemed to bounce back and change from this understandably broken girl into a fierce warrior who takes no shit. It was almost Mary-Sue like in it’s intensity. I mean, she also has The Most Powers Ever once they help her unlock them, so maybe that’s a cure-all?
Kael was actually a pretty good character, and I had no real issues with him. He was a convenient love interest. We did have a few side characters – Alix and Colmen – who seemed like they would play a bigger part than they actually did. In fact *SPOILER ALERT* Colmen dies in the first big battle, which is super traumatic for Andra and everyone else…for like half a minute.
And that brings us to what might be the biggest issue of all (besides the worldbuilding bit, obvs), and that is pacing. This entire book is 352 pages and is a standalone novel. But the sheer amount of stuff that happens (several large-scale battles, a freaking wedding, and a complete overthrow of the current government) would have been enough to spread across a whole trilogy. In fact, it needed a whole trilogy if we were to get any sort of actual character building or tension or sense of drama. Instead, we basically get the entire Inheritance Cycle (four books across 2800 pages) repackaged with a female main character and condensed down to a single book.
*Sigh*. I wanted to like this book. I really did. But…I just can’t.