Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
May 31, 2011; HarperTeen
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)
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.