Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway: Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent

On Tuesday I interviewed Stephanie Parent. Don't miss it! Stephanie has also agreed to give away a special prize right here after my review.



Stephanie Parent (self-published)


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.

Why I Read This:

It's a novel-in-verse.


If you skipped over the summary (which I hope you didn't) and jumped right into my thoughts here, let me say this: Defy the Stars is not only a novel-in-verse but also a retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Not only that, but I've been secretly on the lookout for a self-published novel-in-verse for kindle that don't cost an arm and a leg (there are few and far between verse novels available for kindle). I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I knew I had to give it a try.

At first of the book seemed to fly by. I loved the role of music in the novel and how different Julia seemed from the original Juliet. Also, it was really fun seeing all the new characters pop up and trying to place them in the original story. This is though, a story that can stand apart from it's original. It's different yet the inspiration is clearly there and it started to take on a shape of it's own that made me slow down and look more closely at all the little details. That level of retelling is exactly what I was looking for.

In the end Defy the Stars was a very different book than I expected, sometimes giving me more than I hoped for and other times surprising me in ways I wasn't sure sat well with me. For instance, the drug use. I don't mind reading about all sorts of gritty things but I found the reasons for Reed's and Julia's exploration of drugs disturbing. Mainly that was because it seemed too real for me. I could see all too easy how Reed would find solace in drugs and Julia find they enhance her all too controlled life. I wanted something much better for them. However, after some consideration and time away from the book, I find this book growing on me. I keep coming back to it and looking at it from different angles, finding new things surprising me every time I think about it. Now I think this is a beautiful retelling of a tragic story. It isn't less tragic but it has a voice of it's own that has really made me think and digest things differently.

On a side note: The verse format worked really well for the kindle. It's nicely done and not hard to read at all which I was worried about.

My Rating:


I received a free e-copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.


Stephanie is giving away an ecopy of Defy the Stars plus a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone! 


  1. I bet it is romantic in a good way

  2. Christina K. in the rafflecopter

    Because I love music and Shakespeare!! The whole thing is very unique:)

    Thank you:)

  3. It sounds like an emotional read which I like.

  4. Ooh, I am a verse novel junkie, but I will admit I haven't heard of this one. But I am all over anything that appeals to Jen Echols fans.

  5. I just read Crank by Ellen Hopkins a few weeks ago, so I'm interested to see another author's work in verse.

  6. Yes of course.
    It sounds like a great book to curl up with.