Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1) by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1) by Josephine Angelini
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publication Date: May 31, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 487
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Greek Mythology
Source: Bought it

Book Description from Goodreads:
Set on the island of Nantucket, STARCROSSED tells the tale of Helen Hamilton, a young woman whose destiny is forever altered when she meets Lucas Delos and tries to kill him in front of her entire high school. Which is terribly inconvenient, not only because Lucas is the most beautiful boy on the island, but also because Helen is so achingly shy she suffers physical pain whenever she is given too much attention.
Making matters worse, Helen is beginning to suspect she’s going crazy. Whenever she’s near Lucas or any member of his family she sees the ghostly apparitions of three women weeping bloody tears, and suffers the burden of an intense and irrational hate. She soon learns that she and Lucas are destined to play the leading roles in a Greek tragedy that the Three Fates insist on repeating over and over again throughout history. Like her namesake, Helen of Troy, she’s destined to start a war by falling in love. But even though Lucas and Helen can see their own star-crossed destiny, they’re still powerfully attracted to eachother. Will they give up their personal happiness for the greater good, or risk it all to be together?

The Trojan War is one of my favorite stories of all time. There’s something about throwing it all away (really foolishly) for love, igniting tensions, starting an all-out war, and to have it all come crashing down around you in a rain of fire and blood, it just fascinates me. Angelini takes the Trojan War story and makes it the heart and soul of Starcrossed, but with a modern twist while weaving a new unique mythology into a classic.

I was definitely drawn to the windblown Grecian style dress on the cover. But I didn’t truly grasp the importance of the ominous clouds and the rolling violent ocean in the background of the island shore until later in the story.

Not much is solidly known about Helen of Troy, but when she’s imagined in books her god gifted beauty is always at the forefront and Starcrossed is no exception, I mean she is “The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships”. With such extreme beauty she tries her best to go unnoticed while hiding a host of secrets. She takes the phrase “painfully shy” to a whole new level, but when she finally finds out her true history she embraces herself a bit more and *insert training montage here* she gets pretty kick ass. I’m a bit conflicted about Helen, she’s not exactly the most intricate character ever, but I feel that she’s perfect for the role that she plays in the whole grand scheme of things. She acts as a catalyst for all these events, and an unwilling puppet. She lives her life, and in doing so the fates throw her into the path of Lucas Delos, that reignites an epic battle between ancient Greek houses and showing her a fate that is far bigger than she could have imagined.

Angelini weaves incredible imagery especially with the Furies, every time I think of them it’s all very Japanese ghost horror movie with the pale cold skin, dark hair over a gaunt face with blood and bone chilling cries.

The world building, which includes the usual modern small town with a highschool backdrop for the most part, but I feel like I get glimpses of a Greek theme that manage to slip their way into the buildings once in awhile. Where Angelini really excels is in landscapes, from the sweeping beaches of Nantucket to this hot and unforgiving desert in Helen’s sleep, where she walks until her feet bleed. The details in this dreamscape aren’t soon forgotten.

The secondary character stand out much more for me. Most are named after a traditional Greek myth character. The family gets pretty extensive, but with such prominent names attached, it was easy to figure out who was who. What I saw with the characters is that their personalities reflected their mythical namesakes. So we see character’s like Cassandra (of Troy) who is sister to Lucas and an oracle, Hector the cousin who acts like the older brother to everyone and protects his family ferociously. The twins Ariadne and Jason (cousins to Lucas) and an aunt Pandora (naming your kid Pandora is just ominous!).

Lucas, you can guess who he was supposed to be named for. He's at first a bit of a jerk, and I didn't really feel a pull to him. But after everything's explained, I could rationalize his behaviour and he gets pretty adorkable. He and Helen have a very unconventional relationship to begin with. I was really surprised that they were so viciously at each other’s throats, but it was really effective in reinforcing the mythology that pertains to their Houses.

They can’t deny an intense physical attraction to one another. Since this story has been repeated throughout history it’s the most practical reasoning behind why these two are fated to be together. I mean in the original story Helen met Paris, and pretty much ran away with him (some say kidnapped) almost immediately after meeting, abandoning her husband AND daughter to be with him. It’s a Greek God ordained event, I’ll forgive my usual insta-love irritation at the fact, especially since they fit together so well afterwards, even with this whole will they or won’t they tension going on.

Angelini used this book primarily to establish her world of myths, and to get Helen acquainted with her powers. I was completely swept up into the House politics. But she definitely took the reader on some twists and turns, reveals and betrayals that I didn’t see coming. I’m really looking forward to what the sequel Dreamless is going to entail, good thing it’s sitting on my desk just waiting to be read!

Rating: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
I know a lot of people won’t enjoy this - it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone, but for those mythology buffs like me, you’ll absolutely love all the subtle hints at imminent catastrophic events. 

Also, there's still 12 days left on my 6 Month Celebration giveaway for your choice in a book from The Book Depository. If you haven't read Starcrossed and this sounds like something you might want to read, why not enter and you could win it! 

1 comment:

  1. I love the covers in this series and the premise of the story sounds interesting. Great review!


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