Hello humans! I have been getting into reading Middle-Grade a little more recently (I blame Asha) and one such book that caught my eye was Brightstorm. I think this book has just the most gorgeous cover, for starters, but then reading it I was utterly enchanted. Let me tell you why…
Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?
This book was wonderful in a lot of different ways. The first thing I want to talk about is the characters. Maudie was an instant hit with me, one of my absolute favourite character tropes is women inventors. I think that there are a lot of great examples of inventive women and girls in middle-grade but they do seem to peter out a little as the intended audience of books gets older. I genuinely do think that YA and adult fiction could learn a lot from the way in which middle-grade books write women. I also thought that Arthur was an excellent character. Though as I am not a person with a disability I cannot speak to the way his disability was handled with any kind of authority it felt like a good example to me, and it was good to see some representation.
These two characters are amazing protagonists, just what I like to see in an adventurous story such as this one, but what really struck me was the sibling bond between them. It didn’t feel saccharine or unrealistic, it felt totally genuine and struck a chord with me. The way these two characters protect each other and support each other, even when they don’t necessarily see eye to eye was a powerful aspect of this book.
The side characters were also phenomenal. I loved that it wasn’t just Maudie who was a good example of a female character, there were powerful women at every turn in this book. These side characters were used to their fullest potential in this story and I would gladly read a spinoff title about each and every one of them.
I thought that the worldbuilding was excellent. Just enough to give you a sense of the world, but for the most part, you discover things as the story unfolds. In stories such as these, I think this is the technique that works best, as to give you all the information at once would get dull quite quickly and you just want to get to the action! I thought that the geography of the world was interesting, and it’s what leads me to hope that there will be more books in the future.
The plot of this book is, again, exactly what I like to read, it is an adventure, it’s also a chase, a race and a mystery all wrapped into one. I think that the pacing of this book, given all the different threads of the story that have to be tied together, is absolutely perfect. I love the idea of exploring/adventuring being something that for a long time has been exclusively for the upper classes and the idea of that ceiling gradually being shattered. It’s the elements of the story, like this, that ring true to a historical narrative we all know, that make this book even more powerful.
I could read this book again and again and still not get bored with it, it manages to tick almost every box for me: strong and interesting female characters, adventure, exploring, flight, animals, good against evil and many more that I don’t want to list for fear of spoilers. I sincerely hope that there are more stories planned for these characters because I will read all of them, as soon as possible, please!
My rating: 5/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? What other MG novels do you love? Let me know in the comments below!