#bookquotes

#BQ Dark Star by Casey Carlisle

Another read from an early TBR purchase – the premise looked great but recently found out the series (the final book) was cancelled by Disney-Hyperion… don’t you hate it when you don’t get to read the concluding novel. Grrr!

Book Review – ‘Burn Bright’ (#2 Dark Star) by Bethany Frenette

A novel with the promise of a bright future.

Burn Bright (#2 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal

No. of pages: 339

goodreads banner by Casey Carlisle

Audrey Whitticomb saved her entire city.

Well, kind of. The superhero Morning Star (who just happens to be Audrey’s mom) might have played a small part, and her sidekick, Leon—Audrey’s sort-of boyfriend, who is gorgeous… and frustrating—maybe helped, too.

But after two peaceful months, there is a vicious new threat in Minneapolis. Her name is Susannah, and she’s a Harrower, a demon hell-bent on destroying people like Morning Star, Leon, and Audrey—the Kin. Like others before her, she seeks the Remnant, a Kin girl who has the power to unleash the inhabitants of the Beneath. But to what end?

Audrey already has a ton on her plate: dealing with her best friend Tink’s boy drama, helping her other best friend Gideon figure out his nightmares, and exploring the highs and lows of “dating” Leon. But when she develops a powerful new ability, Audrey seizes on the chance to fight, despite her mother’s protests and Leon’s pleas.

As Audrey gets closer to figuring out Susannah’s motives and tracking down the Remnant, she’ll uncover more than she bargained for. The terrible truth is staring Audrey in the face. But knowing the truth and accepting it are very different things.

Page border 2020 by Casey Carlisle

This was a definitive improvement on the debut ‘Dark Star.’ Though the first half suffered many of the pitfalls I had with the debut: immature writing, fairly two dimensional characters, and a bumbling teen protagonist who kept getting in her own way. It can be very frustrating. But the pacing was much better in ‘Burn Bright.’ It still could have done with a decent editor to really tighten up the narrative and pacing, but this novel was a much better construction than what I was anticipating.

I won’t talk too much about the characters, they did not feel developed or explored enough for me. There are some character arcs for secondary cast members which were much more satisfying that those of the principal characters in this story. The potential is there, though ‘Burn Bright’ could have been so much bigger. Again, some lost potential subsequent of not having a decent developmental editor.

Burn Bright (#2 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Bethany Frenette did manage to surprise me with a few plot points and reveals that I did not see coming. What a joy. It has completely redeemed the trajectory of this series in my eyes. Still the concept of ‘superheroes’ and demon slayers juxtaposing is grating to me, but I found myself getting invested in the story towards the end.

I’m glad to see some improvement in storytelling and an elevated standard in Frenette’s writing; there is still a way to go before I would recommend this. It still feels more like juvenile fiction than young adult. Attitudes, reactions, and vision seem to fall in the scope of that demographic. I did not think I would continue with this series, but after reading ‘Burn Bright’ I am curious to see not only where the series will conclude, but also how much more improvement Frenette gains as her experience grows with each publication. The final book in this trilogy ‘Fire Fall’ was only available in e-book form on amazon.com when I first bought the novels, but when I went to purchase recently, found it is now cancelled and removed from the site. It was available on another website, but, unfortunately would not allow overseas purchases. I’ve even gone as far as contacting the author directly through email and social media, but Bethany Frenette has failed to respond to date. Disappointing that it has been pulled, and readers purchasing the first two novels cannot complete the series in any form – or that the author is engaged with her audience.

However, ‘Burn Bright’ does end on a resounding conclusion. There is only one plot thread that is potentially unresolved, so if you read these first two novels you will feel like you have reached an end… but from what I can garner from the book blurb and review on ‘Fire Fall’ we see the mythology concluded with a holistic approach – which may have answers and explanations to many of the issues I’ve had with the concept of this series from the start.

Still, I don’t think I would recommend this series without reading the final book in the trilogy – or the fact that it is no longer available. With it being cancelled, has Disney Hyperion given up the rights to the novel? Is Bethany Frenette able to self-publish for her fans? I haven’t seen any activity from her since the end of 2015…

Overall feeling: much betta!

Burn Bright (#2 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Burn Bright (#2 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Dark Star’ (#1 Dark Star) by Bethany Frenette

Superheroes and demons.

Dark Star (#1 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal

No. of pages: 384

goodreads banner by Casey Carlisle

Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. When your mother is the most powerful superhero in the Twin Cities, it’s hard not to feel safe. But when Audrey is lured into the night air by something most definitely not human, the time for feeling safe is over.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn’t just stop criminals. She fights Harrowers-merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Some have managed to claw their way into our world, and they want Audrey dead because of who she is: one of the Kin.

There is some good news, though. Audrey has powers of her own. Being able to read someone else’s mind and glimpse the future can be very useful. If she’s able to get close enough to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to figure out his next move. But it won’t be easy, not if Leon, her mother’s bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick has anything to do with it. Lately, he hasn’t let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything-and everyone-she loves.

Page border 2020 by Casey Carlisle

It’s been a minute since I purchased ‘Dark Star’ and getting around to read it. From my foggy memory, I’m certain I purchased this from a Goodreads recommendation and liked the blurb. All I can say is Goodreads, you let me down. We need to have a serious talk. The concept of ‘Dark Star’ brings a lot of promise… a superhero in the making. But the delivery – yeesh.

The biggest thing that played against me was the writing style – it felt more targeted towards a juvenile market. The narrative felt so immature. The plot felt scattered, shooting off in tangents that had promise, but then retreating to a more simplistic storyline. Honestly, I took a long time to read this because I kept putting it down from boredom. ‘Dark Star’ did not find its legs until the three-quarter mark. At that point all of author Bethany Frenette’s talents came into play: pacing, tension, character growth, and world building. But too, little too late. Sorry ‘bout it.

The rest of the novel just teased me. Protagonist Audrey starts off as a whiney, belligerent teen, and we get glimpses of ways her character can face challenges and grow, or interesting paths to take… but she does not take them. It left me frustrated. If it weren’t’ for my OCD about finishing every novel I start, I would have DNF’d this title.

Dark Star (#1 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 02a by Casey Carlisle

I was also a little confronted about the theology and concept of superhero in ‘Dark Star.’ It was a mix of X-Men styled abilities and demons. It just wasn’t married together enough to feel convincing. I think this boiled down to word choice. We see ‘Guardian’ toted about in the novel a lot – maybe if it was marketed as an apprentice Guardian learning the ropes to protect the city of Minnesota against the hordes of demons trying to take over the city I would have been sold. But we get this Supergirl treatment in the beginning of the novel (and in marketing the book) that peters off and goes nowhere. Plus there is no explanation into the theology – I mean demons are steeped in religion (or at least an alternate reality,) but that aspect is completely ignored apart from a perfunctory mention.

Given this is Frenette’s debut novel, and she’s cutting her teeth in the publishing arena, maybe I shouldn’t be so precise in my critique – but considering it was traditionally published Hyperion should have executed a proper developmental edit to tighten the narrative and plot. This is the start of a trilogy, so maybe Frenette grows from her experience and the team begins to gel together to produce a better sequel in ‘Burn Bright?” I will continue with the franchise to find out – and because I have already purchased the books. But, on a side note, Hyperion dropped Frenette from publishing the third instalment ‘Fire Fall’ – which was only available in ebook format – and she hasn’t published anything since 2014… so things don’t look promising at the moment. But we will see.

I found ‘Dark Star’ entirely predictable, there were no surprises, and it wasn’t a very unique concept. Frenette has the tools and creativity to craft a really great story, she just needs some experience and a good team backing her up. I can see the potential in her career but ‘Dark Star’ had pacing issues, flat characters, predictable storylines, and an immature writing style. All things that can be improved on with a good developmental edit and experience. But as ‘Dark Star’ stands, it’s one I would not recommend. There are plenty of other novels in this genre that excel.

But watch this space – I’ll revisit Frenette’s writing journey and this franchise again in the sequel and see if it is heading in an upward direction.

Overall feeling: Well… it’s a start.

Dark Star (#1 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Dark Star (#1 Dark Star) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.