The Brightest Stars by Anna Todd
“Karina knows the harsh realities of military life. And like anyone who has grown up around an army base, she knows the background noise that follows a soldier home from war. That’s why she’s forging her own quiet life in her own little house. But she hasn’t turned her back on her family. She’s the glue that holds them together–when her father is deployed, when her brother, Austin, has another brush with the law.
Karina knows that she has to look after herself, that she can’t always fix what’s broken. But when Austin’s behavior worsens and her father’s reactions grow more extreme, Karina feels her own edges beginning to fray. That’s when she meets him–a closed book she’s desperate to open.
At just twenty, Kael is a handsome, brooding soldier struggling with the aftermath of two tours in Afghanistan. He’s emotionally damaged and closed off. Quiet doesn’t begin to describe him. But as Karina gets used to his stable presence, she finds it hard to ignore the way he makes her feel. In their time together, she finds the stillness she has always wanted and never found. She lets down her guard. And she lets herself fill in the blanks about this mysterious man.
But illusions quickly made are quickly shattered. That’s when Karina has to find her own courage–to untangle the truth from the lies and decide what she’s going to do about it.”
4 Stars (although I was seriously contemplating 3.75)
Let me dust this review off because it has been sitting in my drafts for well over a year *imagine dust flying everywhere*.
Note that I read the published version. Not sure if the wattpadd version is different or has major changes.
I like this book a lot more than After because the level of toxicity is a minimum compared to the other book. Keep in mind that these are two completely different series but there are a couple of times where Karina mentions the After book itself (not the actual story).
Do you ever feel like certain authors uses the same plot formula for each of their books? Some people like to know what to kind of expect in plot structure from the author. I feel like the sequence of events of The Brightest Stars mirrors After a little to closely for my taste. It has the meet the hot new guy, crush on him, start to spill personal secrets, find out that he has walls that are almost impossible to break, learn a little bit about him, mess around, get closer, add in unexpected variable, end of book one. Sorry I forgot about the book ending with the girl leaving the guy while it’s raining.
And it wouldn’t be an Anna Todd book without a few Harry Styles references.
With all of that being said I find that this story contains characters that are a lot more mature because they don’t fight over petty things.
Karina grew up moving around from place to place because her father is in the army and her mother is severely depressed. With her twin brother the only person she can truly rely on leaves her feeling disconnect from both of her parents by high school. Her parents get a divorce when she’s a teenager, and her mother all but disappears from her life a that point, leaving Karina and Austin to live with their father in a strict military house. Both of the siblings move out at the first chance they can get. Karina betters her life while Austin moves around unsure what to do with his life.
“Dusk was giving way to night. The sky was darkening now, filling with the most gorgeous stars. I know everyone thought they were magical, diamonds hung aloft in the sky and all that, but I found them sad. Stars seemed so fierce and bright, but by the time they got to us, they were dying, almost gone. And the biggest stars? They burned the fastest, as if their intense radiance was too much for them to hold onto.”
When Karina knows what she wants she goes after it. After living with her strict father, she goes to college studies hard, moves out of her father’s house, buys a small house, and gets a job all by the age of 20. But when she meets this closed off man who just arrives home from another tour in the military, she’s suddenly unsure of how to handle the future when he seems to bring out a new side of herself.
Kael is walled off from everything when he comes home from Afghanistan but that’s kind of expected because of what he has gone through. He enters the military because he saw that as one of the only outs from his former life and to better his mother and sister. He comes back to Georgia expecting to start a new life flipping old houses not falling in love to the daughter of a man that he has some kind of beef with.
The first two chapter of this story picks up in 2019 with Karina meeting up with Kael in a coffee shop to reconnect? I honestly couldn’t tell you at the current moment, but whenever the two meet there is obviously some tension and reminiscing. Anyway, after the first chapter, the story jumps back to 2017 to the first day where Karina meets Kael at her job where she’s a massage therapist. It’s kind of a meet cute moment because Kael had an appointment with Elodie, Karina’s friend, but she was running late so Karina took him because she didn’t have an appointment or walk-in. During the hour, he stays mostly quiet. This leaves Karina intrigued and puzzled for the rest of the day; then she gets home and there’s Elodie and you guessed it, Kael.
Over the course of this book Karina and Kael get closer to the other. For the majority of the book, they’re in that awkward stage of friends that want to date but aren’t.
“Life support. That’s what he was starting to feel like for me. I should have been worried about that, but I wasn’t. I’d never been the needy type, never played the damsel in distress, It’s not my style.
As I was reading this book, I felt like there were some gaps in the story because I would be reading and then there’s some big revelation that wasn’t mentioned earlier. I’m not sure if I was skimming through the book when the thing was talked about earlier or if it was intentionally left out for a big shock to the reader, but it was rather annoying. Then at the end of the book, we were still in the past because the story hasn’t reached the present where they are in the coffee shop.
If I had the second book in my room or could order it and have it here in a few days, then I would definitely read it because I tend to binge read and currently sucked into Karina and Kael’s story. However the second book isn’t set to be releases until September of this year, so I honestly couldn’t tell you if I’m going to read it when it first comes out. Overall I enjoyed this book for the most part even though some of the elements/structure seemed really close to After. I did read this book over the course of a day, so I would say that it had me hooked pretty good.
What are your thoughts on this book? Let me know!
Happy reading until next time,