The Brightest Starsby Anna Todd (Website, Twitter)
Series: Karina and Kael #1
Published by Frayed Pages Inc. on September 18, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Military, Romance
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Internationally bestselling author Anna Todd returns with a gripping novel about a young woman’s quest to keep her family together, despite the lies that are tearing them apart.
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.
A riveting story about the love and lies, THE BRIGHTEST STARS will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
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I remember hearing about author Anna Todd and her Wattpad success, but since I’m a bit older than her original demographic I never read her wildly successful After series. I’m digging into her work for the first time with her latest series, and book one is The Brightest Stars. Featuring an optimistic woman who’s determined to make a life for herself away from her overbearing military father and try-hard stepmother as she navigates professional massage therapy near a military base and repairing her fixer upper, Karina isn’t looking for romance or a relationship. But when her pregnant coworker and closest friend asks a favor to let her deployed husband’s friend stay at Karina’s house for a few days until he can get settled back on U.S. soil, Karina doesn’t expect to meet a skittish and silent man who intrigues her from the start.
The Brightest Stars jumps back and forth in time, and it actually starts in 2019 so you know how everything ends for Karina and strong, silent Kael–and it isn’t pretty. But then time is rewound to an earlier time when they first met and fell for each other over the course of about a week. While Kael seems haunted by his tours of duty in Afghanistan and doesn’t talk much, he enjoys getting to know Karina as she tells him stories about her life and family. Her family life is complicated, with her twin brother Austin being somewhat of a trouble maker and needing help keeping on the straight and narrow these days while her father is full of criticisms about her life choices.
The book started out strong and kind of fizzled towards the middle, but then things picked up as her father gets involved in a not completely unexpected way. The chemistry between Karina and Kael seemed a bit forced, especially since they knew each other for such a short period of time. Hopefully some of this will be addressed in the next book. I did enjoy the musical references sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed the bits between Karina and her friend/coworker Elodie, and I wish they had more interactions because there relationship was very real and enjoyable to read.
I give The Brightest Stars a 3.5 out of 5. While this was an entertaining, fast read, it contains major instalove, some inconsistencies, and ends on a big cliffhanger. There are several intriguing plots that have me interested, so I will probably be reading the next installment to see how all of this angst shakes out.
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About Anna Todd
Anna Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the After series, The Spring Girls and the upcoming The Brightest Stars. Always an avid reader, she began writing stories on her phone on Wattpad, the reading and writing multiplatform for original stories, with After becoming the most read series on the platform with over 1.5 billion reads. The print edition was published in 2014. It has been published in over 30 languages, with more than 11 million copies sold worldwide, and is a #1 bestseller in Italy, Germany, France and Spain. The film adaptation, which Anna is co-producing, is set to be released in early 2019. Anna and her husband currently live in Los Angeles.
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Click here to download chapter 1 of The Brightest Stars.