Defy The Stars isn't a book I really knew about until the author contacted me about reviewing it. It had a simple and intriguing cover and of course who doesn't like a book that is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet? I haven't read to many of them to be totally honest, but am always intrigued by their story lines. The other thing that really made me want to read this one to was that it was written in inverse. I'm glad that I agreed to read this book because it really is a beautiful story.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Julia Cape is a gifted pianist who is eagerly awaiting for acceptance letters two some of the top schools for music such as the Peabody. She's always writing in her calendar the things she needs to accomplish by a certain time frame. Reed McAllistar is a slacker who smokes to much dope. He's got it tough and even though he doesn't seem to care about anything Reed is talented himself. Two completely different people and yet both are drawn to each other to the point of their own destruction.
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started this book. And I will admit to being a tad bit confused in the beginning. That prologue threw me off a bit and I wasn't sure what the heck was going on. But once that was finished nothing was confusing everything just flowed beautifully. And now that I've finished the book and I've thought about it I think the prologue was written the way it was for a reason. I'm not really confused about what happened anymore.
Though this book is a modern telling of Romeo and Juliet I think that it's quite different. It's a tragic love story yes, but Reed and Julia are their own people. They aren't Romeo and Juliet. I liked that a lot about this book. It allowed me not to go "Oh that was such a Juliet move." or think "That was all Romeo right there and not Reed." Yes, there are some similar things about Reed and Romeo and Juliet and Julia but still they're their own characters. Realizing this about this book allowed me to love Defy The Stars even more.
Julia is a really interesting character. So much happens to her in this book and she does change a lot and whether she changes for the better I can't really say. She gets herself into a lot of tough and not so good situations. And its all for love. For Reed. I've never felt that earth shattering love so in a way I think that's why I often didn't agree with what Julia did. She risked so much for this guy who from the start turned her life upside down. He was her drug and he brought her into his dangerous world of meth and people who would kill if they didn't get what they wanted. Though I didn't agree with a lot of things Julia did doesn't mean I didn't like her. I never didn't like her. I just had moments of shaking my head and thinking "Is it really worth it?" She's definitely a complicated character that's for sure.
Reed is not anyone's prince charming. Not in the clean cut sense anyways. He himself is really another complicated character. He's really...hmm. Well, I guess the best way to describe Reed is depressing. He's often really sad and depressed. But given the life he's lived he deserves to be a little sad. Julia definitely brought out his smile. Even though they were so different they essentially were perfect for each other. They just didn't have fate on their side. Reed got on my nerves a lot. Mainly because he allowed Julia to do that thing that she did. I know he didn't want her to do it but yet he still let her! That really made me furious. Pretty much to describe how I feel about Reed is a love hate kind of thing. So many moments I loved him and so many moments I hated him.
I don't know what it is about inverse books but I swear they hit you in the heart so hard. Not even kidding. There is just something about inverse books that have this emotional string that tugs on your heart--yanks on it really. I've had a lot of books that made me feel all the feelings but anytime I read a book in inverse all those feelings are amplified. It's such a strange thing. I love it though. I love that I'm reading this book and its literally gutting me because it's just so beautifully written. Defy The Stars was definitely another inverse book that made me feel all the feelings. The way it was formatted and how certain words went down the page like steps was so awesome.
I was shocked by how this book ended. Not how I thought it would end. With that being said I am so glad it didn't end how I imagined it was going to. Those last few pages of the book were oh so bittersweet. It was a perfect ending and I am so glad that it didn't end any other way.
One more thing I must talk about before I end this review is how much I loved the way Stephanie Parent--the author--described the piano. I love piano's and how they sound but I don't know a thing about them. It was so clear that this author knew what she was talking about. She knew what she was writing and I loved that. I loved how beautiful she described the piano and how Julia played. There is nothing better than reading a book and knowing that the author really knew her stuff. The piano is such a beautiful thing in this book.
Defy The Stars was a beautifully written inverse book filled with lots of interesting things. Dark at times, but there are moments of sweet and lightness. I'm giving Defy The Stars 3.9 out of 5 birds. It's a a tragic tale like Romeo and Juliet but it definitely has it's own twists and flare to it that makes it different. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any one who loves a good book. And if you want to experience a book in inverse Defy The Stars is one to check out for sure!
~~Thank you Stephanie Parent for providing me with a copy of your book!~~