Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blog Tour ~ Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent *Review

I am thrilled to be part of the Defy the Stars Blog Tour by Stephanie Parent! Defy the Stars is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet. After checking out the review and entering the giveaways, click on the tour banner to check out more stops along the tour!

Defy the Stars
by Stephanie Parent
Published: July 30, 2012
Available: Amazon

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.


As I started reading Defy the Stars, I found myself completely torn. On one hand I love anything Shakespeare (yes, even the cheesy 10 Things I Hate About You), and Romeo and Juliet is one of my favorites. On the other hand is that I hate sad endings and Defy the Stars starts off letting you know this will be a sad ending, which really shouldn't be a surprise considering it's a retelling of one of the saddest love stories ever told.

So, where did that leave me? Well, I went in cautiously. I tried not to let myself care about Julia and Reed, to realize that I knew exactly where their story was going so that I wouldn't feel let down. And for a while it worked, I picked apart things about them I didn't like, how quickly their relationship developed, how cliche the characters were, but by the end I cried. I can't say I was a big fan of Julia. She was so easy to jump into danger again and again, I just wanted to smack her, especially since she does it simply because she likes a guy. Reed, however, felt like a much more powerful character. He has deep problems that even at the end I didn't feel were ever truly revealed. I really wanted to know more about him, and while his storyline was realistic for his character, it was also very sad. Ultimately it was Reed's character that kept me reading, and hoping that maybe this reimaging of Romeo and Juliet would have a happy ending.

I didn't quite getting the happy ending I wanted, not surprising considering Parent let's us know that right up front in the prologue. But neither did the ending go exactly the way I was expecting. While Parent stayed true to some aspects of Shakespeare's original tale, she does make it her own. Despite finding the ending sad and hopeless, there was just a touch of light at the end, something to make the reader think that maybe all hope is not lost, and that the experiences we have that seem so unsurvivable can make us stronger.

The writing style was definitely different as it is set up as verse, and while there were times I could fall into the rhythm of it, other times I would stumble over a word that didn't follow the regular soft-hard pattern of the syllables and it pulled me out of the story. After a while, though, I found myself focusing more on the characters, and simply reading the story as regular prose.

I would recommend Defy the Stars to lovers of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and anyone who loves a romance with a good cry at the end.

About the Author:
Stephanie Parent is a YA author repped by Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major.

Giveaway Info:
1st prize: $30 gift card from Amazon and a e-book copy of Defy the Stars.
2nd place: 4 e-book copies of Defy the Stars.
Additional Prize: A query letter critique by Stephanie Parent.
All giveaways are open internationally!
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