Monday, January 7, 2013

Review - Defy the Stars

Goodreads Summary 
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.

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When I found out about this book, and that it was in verse, I was eager to start. Gimme gimme gimme. I have a soft spot for books in verse. I absolutely love how an author can pack a page with emotion in so few words. I didn’t feel Defy the Stars had that true verse-y flow, though it was still packed with emotion, just in a fuller way.

I loved Julia. She was driven, focused, and, let’s face it, MUSICAL. As a fellow pianist, I adored reading the scenes where Julia was playing the piano. She plays a Chopin Ballade that I PLAYED! It made me feel special, and I identified with her. The descriptions of her playing are so well done, and as a musician, I am extra picky with musical descriptions. I wanted to feel her playing, and StephanieParent definitely captured that.

Reed broke my heart a little. I hated his situation, his tragic past. I wanted so much more for him, and I thought Julia would be the answer. But instead of her pulling him out of his abyss, he dragged her into his. Unintentionally. Sort of. This isn’t your typical Bad Boy seducing Good Girl story. It’s much deeper than that. Julia is dealing with some self-made stresses that she is unable to suppress or cope with naturally, so when Reed presents an opportunity, she takes it.

This is where the drug use comes in. I admit, I was really shocked at first. Angry. Guarded. I wanted to scream at Julia for risking everything for a momentary high. But I understood it. I felt the pressure she was under, and her first experience was so impactful, she was left craving more.

Oh, Julia… Sad face. Sad heart.

This story is sort of a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, and the underlying theme is brought about in their English class. Stephanie did a beautiful job of embedding the theme without overwhelming the story with “retelling”. This story was different, new, fresh, and vivid.

I am not ashamed to admit that my favorite scenes were during Julia and Reed’s drug induced hazes. The language is so vivid.

"This golden rush of energy blasts through my mind, invades my veins till it fills every inch of me. I've never felt this awake - the world has never been so clear, like I could reach out and hold it in my hand... I can actually feel the tension crackling between us until we collide and now I know what it feels like to be this close to someone, lips hands tongue teeth, breath mind soul, I will never ever go back to the way things were before."

Overall, this was a heart-wrenching, beautiful tale of love gone wrong, of the pressures of life, and of the things we will sometimes do to overcome – or bury – those pressures.

Keep an eye out for Stephanie Parent. She has a new novel coming out - Precious Things, coming out this Spring!


  1. Let me just say that I love when novels are written in verse!? That's awesome :) And Julia sounds like a wonderful character. I have to say that I have trouble with drug use but I might be able to get past it for a great story and wonderful writing, like I do with Ellen Hopkins' work.
    Always love hearing your thoughts, Megan! :)

    1. Jess, the story was beautiful, and the drug use did not deter from the ending, I promise you that! :)