Thursday, March 22, 2012

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
May 31, 2011; HarperTeen


Summary

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.(courtesy of Amazon)

Review

Starcrossed is a paranormal/mythology novel that sounds like something we've read a dozen times already, but also manages to feel fresh and enticing. It's the perfect mixture of comfort and excitement.

The novel incorporates elements of Greek mythology along with The Iliad. I've never been interested in Greek mythology, but oddly enough, The Iliad was one of my favorite assigned school reads. So this was a great combination for me.

There are many Twilight elements in Starcrossed: shy girl with a single father; filthy rich, large, good-looking family; strong emotions linking the hero and heroine; big and powerful enemy, etc. But Starcrossed adds a twist to each of these elements. Any time I started to roll my eyes at the hackneyed theme, Ms. Angelini threw in a surprise.

The strong emotional connection between Lucas and Helen manages to be something altogether different: hatred. Not "I'm attracted to you but I want to kill you" hatred. Just "I want to kill you" hatred. The Fates, a force beyond Lucas and Helen transforms two good people into monsters. Surprisingly, the switch from hatred to attraction doesn't feel that unrealistic. A little bit, but no more unrealistic than a book featuring Greek mythological characters come to life would naturally feel.

The characters and the world building make this story. Helen is extremely shy - so much so that she irritated me. But I can see how extreme beauty would drive a person to hide from the world in the same way that a deformity would - it sets you apart from the group. Lucas was a nice guy. He doesn't stand out from the typical YA hero - compassionate, stubborn, strong, mysterious, protective, loyal, etc. But he was likable nonetheless. I adored Helen's best friend Claire. She's a tiny ball of fire. She was outspoken, brave, and kind. Plus, she was always good for a laugh. I loved how she fit into the paranormal world. And then there's the big Delos family. Aside from Lucas, there's Cassandra, Ariadne, Jason, Hector, plus a few others whose names I forget. No matter how often the big family theme is done, I always fall for the variety of characters and the love and angst displayed among the family members. Cassandra is a psychic who I initially thought would be Alice incarnate, but she is a much more tragic figure than Alice and also more powerful. I particularly liked the relationship Jason and Claire built up. Nothing like romantic tension. Helen's father Jerry was your stereotypical clueless YA dad, but a nice guy who tried to do the right thing. I loved seeing his relationship, or lack thereof, with Kate.

Starcrossed does a fabulous job with world building. Greek mythology is always complex, but I had a pretty good understanding of the forces pulling Helen and the Delos family in different directions. It helps if you have some knowledge of mythology and The Iliad but it's not necessary. The concept of the reincarnated characters and the competing houses is wholly original. The idea of fate or predestiny is much more prominent in Starcrossed than a typical paranormal. We can hope that the characters can defy Fate, but we quickly realize that it is unbelievably powerful and manages to snap up the characters' good intentions, chew them up, and spit them back out into the shape that Fate demands. I'm excited to read the sequels to see how Helen and Lucas can avoid Fate.

Starcrossed is a fun read. It doesn't seem like much at first, but the characters, the epic nature of their dilemma, and the fascinating world building quickly sucks you in. I definitely recommend picking this book up.

Rating: 4 / 5

22 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you! At first I was like wtf is this crap, but by the end I was like OMG I NEED MORE!! I can't wait to read the next one!!

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

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  2. I loved this one and I'm happy to see you did too!!! I also loved Claire - she was so incredible! It's just amazing when secondary characters are that awesome! The ending also left me speechless!

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  3. I read Starcrossed a while ago, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I think it was the main character that annoyed me a little. Oh, but I really liked how they hated each other at first! And the mythology really sucked me in, too.

    And the ending? Gosh, I want to read the second book :)

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  4. I agree 100% with you. The beginning of the story moved VERY slowly, but by the end I LOVED it! Dreamless is awesome- I hope you get a chance to read it soon!

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  5. Great review! If I hadn't already read this one and loved it, I'd definitely have to check it out now. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  6. I read this when it came out and enjoyed it. Then a few months back, I read an interview with the author saying she was inspired by the Iliad. I must have completely missed those. Did you see a lot of Iliad parallels?
    PS Claire was awesome. She needs her own book!

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  7. Yay! I thought you would like Starcrossed! I agree, I liked this book because of its similarities to Twilight, but also because of its differences.

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    1. I totally agree. I liked this book, and am definitely intrigued enough to keep going with the series.

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  8. I checked this one out from the library, but didn't get around to reading it. It had several holds, but then I completely forgot about it once its popularity kinda died down. I love Greek Mythology and I'm curious as to how its incorporated in the book. Thanks for the review and the reminder!

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  9. Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one too Alison! It was a favorite read of mine last year. I'm a huge fan of Greek mythology and partial to any story that features it, so this was the perfect read for me. Definitely a complex world, but an oh-so interesting one as well. Awesome review!

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  10. This sounds fantastic!! I am drawn by the twilight comparisons you mentioned! So Similar to Twilight, but with all kinds of awesome Greek Mythology? Where do I sign up? LOL! This sounds great!!


    -Jac @ For Love and Books

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  11. Why haven't I read this one yet? I'm pretty sure it's on my Kindle and I do love when an author can take a boring trope and turn it on its head. Well, that plus Greek mythology.

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  12. So glad you enjoyed it!! :) I loved it when I read it last year and the ending KILLED me! I can't wait for Dreamless!
    And YES! I completely agree with the mix of comfort and excitement! And Claire was a really fun character! :)

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  13. I love this book and i'm happy that you did too! I can't wait for the next book and great review!

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  14. Great review! I totally agree with a lot of your points. I thought Helen's shyness made the first half of the book rather slow, but once the action started, I really enjoyed it too. Can't wait for Dreamless!

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  15. I've wanted to read this for a long time & your review just makes me want to read it more! Thanks for the review!

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  16. I seem to never get tired of Greek Mythology (reading The Son of Neptune right now) so this already on my TBR, it sounds like it'd be a good read. Bumping it up on priorities.

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  17. "It's the perfect mixture of comfort and excitement." That sounds like a great book! Thanks for the review :D

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  18. I haven't got around to checking this one out because it seemed too reminiscent of other YA paranormals, but it's good to hear it's not a complete cookie-cutter. I also love Greek mythology and the world building sounds awesome... the more I think about it, the more I want to check out this book, actually :)

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  19. I believe I remember some iffy reviews for this book when it first came out, so your stamp of approval is really refreshing. It's been years since I've read The Iliad, and I think it was only in parts when I was in high school. But the reincarnation aspect does sound fascinating.

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  20. I really like your point about a mix of comfort and excitement as so much about it seems like the typical YA while there also bursts of freshness and newness that made me flip madly through the book.

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  21. I shall be picking this up at some point as per many fantastical reviews...including yours.

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