Author: Stephanie Parent
“Just ’cause a feeling doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean it’s not right.” -Reed
“I must be gone and live, or stay and die.” -William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I love poems and I sometimes cry over reading one. So the idea of a verse novel sounded fantastic. Defy the Stars can be called a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Or at least it’s inspired by it. I mean, it’s quoted everywhere, they discuss it in class. Meta or not, Romeo and Juliet definitely plays a role in this novel. Now, let’s get right to the plot.
Julia is the quintessential talented, young thing. She plays the piano and that’s her life. She doesn’t even think about boys like her friends. Until Reed came into the picture. Whereas Julia is the girl you want your parents to meet, Reed is absolutely the last person you’ll introduce to them. He is nice but he does drugs. So basically he’s the epitome of bad influence on perfect, little and rich Julia.
If you are allergic to sad reads, then stay away from this. I don’t think it’s a spoiler because the novel pretty much opened with it so I’m just gonna say it: Reed dies at the end. So if you don’t want to spend reading a novel knowing the guy dies in the end, I do not suggest this book. But if you’re like me who likes the journey as much as the end (maybe even more), go and read this!
Julia and Reed’s love story’s kind of an insta-love and while I normally stay away from those, I soldiered on because of the plot. I know that this novel will tackle issues such as drugs and family and it reminded me of Shattered Soul by Jennifer Snyder. I even told Stephanie that and I think she and Jennifer are now friends after reading each other’s book. 😛 I gobble up realistic fiction, the grittier the better, so I had to read this.
I know almost to nothing about the piano (I can read and play notes but that’s it) so I technically didn’t understand any musical terms Julia says. But I’d like to applaud Stephanie for showing us that music is really vital in Julia’s life. Not telling us, but showing us. Like how scientists use scientific terms in daily life (guilty as charged!), Julia speaks it. Thinks it. It consumes her thoughts, she speaks in musical terms and all that. Plus, all the mention of crescendos and mezzafortes made the novel sound beautiful.
I like the format but sometimes, the cuts in the verses are awkward, as if the author just needs to cut this thing down so she puts pauses and cuts the line. It’s a minor gripe of mine because still, the poetic and unrushed storytelling had me reading page after page.
So why a three? I like the novel, I really do but it gradually lost some of that by the end. For one, I don’t like how Julia seems willing to throw it all away for Reed. But I may be biased because I am a career-oriented person so it kinda pissed me off. Moreover, Reed’s eternal spiral to drugs, sigh. I am a dreamer, a romantic, so I just thought that maybe with Julia in his life, he can change his ways. He can be the man he ought to be, can be. Reed is really a good person inside but he’s been dealt with the wrong cards and he chose to play those cards badly. Plus, while I knew that Reed’s gonna die and that I shouldn’t get attached, I still got attached to him and I felt really really sad when he died. I didn’t like HOW he died. It’s just, sigh, both frustrating and heartbreaking.
Overall, I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to try reading a verse novel and for fans of realistic contemporary YA.
So once again, thank you to Stephanie for giving me a copy. Yey! 😀