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Thursday, October 18, 2012

[Review] Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Stephanie Parent
Pages: 596 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Stephanie Parent
Release Date: July 30, 2012

Julia Cape: A dedicated classical piano student just trying to get through her last semester of high school while waiting to hear from music conservatories.

Reed MacAllister: A slacker more likely to be found by the stoners’ tree than in class.

Julia and Reed might have graduated high school without ever speaking to each other…until, during a class discussion of Romeo and Juliet, Julia scoffs at the play’s theme of love at first sight, and Reed responds by arguing that feelings don’t always have to make sense. Julia tries to shake off Reed’s comment and forget about this boy who hangs with the stoner crowd—and who happens to have breathtaking blue eyes—but fate seems to bring the two together again and again. After they share an impulsive, passionate kiss, neither one can deny the chemistry between them. Yet as Julia gets closer to Reed, she also finds herself drawn into his dark world of drugs and violence. Then a horrific tragedy forces Julia’s and Reed’s families even farther apart…and Julia must decide whether she’s willing to give up everything for love.

Defy the Stars is written in an edgy free-verse style that will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder; however, the writing is accessible enough to speak to non-verse fans as well. The novel’s combination of steamy romance and raw emotion will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Echols, and Tammara Webber. With a story, language and form that both pay homage to and subvert Shakespeare’s play, Defy the Stars is much more than just another Romeo and Juliet story.

When the author offered me a copy for review, I knew I had to read this one! I've been wanting to read more novels in verse, and Romeo & Juliet is one of my favorite stories, so this book was definitely something I thought I'd love. The story follows Julia: a senior who is more comfortable sitting at her piano than joining the social scene. And Reed: a stoner with surprising insight caught in a bad situation. Of course these two are our starcrossed lovers from different sides of the tracks.

I practically flew through this book! Not just because it's a verse novel and therefore less wordy by nature, but because the story completely grabbed my attention, so I couldn't put it down! Julia has her life in order, but then things start slowly spinning out of control. She finally talks to Reed and starts secretly seeing him which leads to lies, sneaking around, not being able to focus, and eventually getting into drugs.

The author tackles some huge issues in this book. She presents them realistically, which at times is scary. Drugs are not something to take lightly, as Julia does in the beginning. She doesn't think about the consequences of the drugs, but only about how it gives her that extra boost she needs. It throws out some twists and turns that she could never imagine, and that I wasn't expecting.

There's only one thing that keeps this from being a 5 Star read for me: I wish we had gotten to know Reed a bit more. At times he felt like he was just the love interest rather than an actual character. Other than that, Defy the Stars is definitely one of the best self-published books I've read. It doesn't suffer from the ailments that tend to put people off of self-published books, like major typos and a general lack of editing. It's highly polished, well written, and the story is beautifully told. If you're a fan of retellings, verse novels, new adult novels, issues novels, or love stories, do not miss out on this one!

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1 comment:

  1. Hmm. I'm not sure how I feel about reading this book. One one hand, I'm completely intrigued by the novel in verse style. On the other, the synopsis makes this sound pretty typical high school romance, stoner guy/good girl, bonding over literary discussion, etc.

    Thanks for sharing!


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