REVIEW: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (107)

Title: Starcrossed
Author: Josephine Angelini
Pages: 496
ISBN: 978-0062011992
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis

(Taken from Amazon.com)

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.

Review

Oh, I love, love love Greek Mythology. I was quite excited to receive this ARC from NetGalley and to be able to fall in love with a new sets of Gods and Goddesses (in this case, Demi-Gods). I had heard rave reviews about Starcrossed – and no wonder as it is the Greek Mythology version of the infamous Twilight series! While Josephine Angelini claims it is a retelling of The Illiad, I think it’s more like a retelling of Twilight but with Gods instead of vamps and weres. While it can be a bad thing to be compared to Twilight ( a series that I loathe with a passion), I do not feel the same way about Starcrossed. I am not quite sure how to feel, to be honest.

In my opinion, Angelini knows what her readers are looking for, what they want, and I give her major props for that. She’s not just beauty, but brains, too! This book will be successful, there is no doubt about it. That being said, it doesn’t mean that the novel will be well received by everyone, myself included.

starcrossed-coverI am going to start with some positive aspects of the novel. For one, I loved Claire who has been Helen’s best friend forever since they were in diapers. Claire is outgoing and sassy and says what she thinks and acts upon what she feels. Being one of the minorities in Nantucket, Claire (Japanese) really understands Helen in feeling different. You see, Helen has always felt she was different but had no idea why. All she knew was that her stomach cramped up every time she brought attention to herself. Having such debilitating pain caused Helen to be much more of a loner than any teenager wishes to be. Because Helen is so serious and timid, it is nice that she has a friend like Claire who brings out bits and pieces of Helen that no one sees often. Even better than that, Claire has a feeling that Helen is more than just different (in fact she thinks she’s a vampire!) and yet accepts her anyway. (What a great friend!) Still, Helen is quick to avoid Claire when she starts to discover the truth about herself and where she comes from.

I also liked the idea that the Father was in charge of raising his daughter on his own with the non existent Mother; a bit different from general stereotypes of single parent families. Although it felt like the Father was quite absent, for the most part, I admired his willingness to raise his daughter alone.

Angelini twisted myth to fit her story and wove an extravagant tale of two families at war with each other, and the Gods to which they are descended from. Helen and Lucas are on opposing families and when they meet for the first time, Helen (with no feelings other than hatred) attacks Lucas with the urge to kill him. Helen, who has lived in a small town her entire life, doesn’t realize where her hatred comes from but she knows that whenever Lucas is around Helen is haunted by three disheveled women who reach out to her, weeping tears of blood. It’s in Helen’s blood to want to kill the members of the Delos family and Starcrossed is the story of two lovers born of hate who risk their own lives to save each other.

Now as said before, Starcrossed bares an uncanny resemblance to Twilight. Here are some of the similarities:

  • Both Bella and Helen are socially inept high school girls who (regardless of their awkward unsocial behavior) has guys flocking to them.
  • Both girls are being “raised” by their “barely there” fathers. While it’s no doubt their Dad’s love them, the Dad’s in both stories play a background role.
  • The Delos family is very much like the Cullen family — all attractive, many times rude, and keeps to themselves.
  • The “sister” of the opposing families are both psychic.
  • Lucas has to fight the urge to kill Helen, just as Edward had to fight the urge to kill Bella.
  • Both stories mix love with violence against each other.

Those are just to name a few. The reason I disliked Twilight so much was because I believed that it was spreading the wrong message to teenagers about how love should be. So because Starcrossed bares such resemblance I am truly on the fence with how I feel. On one hand, like I’ve said before, I have a weakness for Greek Mythology — but the Mother in me is quite upset and disappointed of how the story unfolded and what it represented to the young impressionable reader.

What kind of stinks right now is that on Twitter there is this whole #YaSaves movement going on because one blogger or reporter insinuated that a lot of teen novels are doing more damage than good by spreading the wrong message. Heck, maybe that person was just talking about Twilight and its message that violence and love can mix. Unfortunately Starcrossed does nothing to eliminate that thought; that love can exist without violence.

Again, I am so conflicted. (Can you tell?)

In regards to the actual writing — I struggled for about a hundred pages or so. Starcrossed was written in third person, which when done correctly, can weave a magical tale that puts us outside the character but within their world. I am not sure Starcrossed really effectively did this. For a while it felt that I was being given half the story but not the entire story with many scenes lacking in descriptive detail. It was as if Angelini trusted the reader too much to know what she was talking about when she wrote the novel. When I read a book, in third person especially, I need the help to visualize. I need someone to paint the picture so I can sit back and admire it. When the picture is half painted, all I can focus on is what is missing and what needs to be done rather than what is right before me. For a while, actually, I kept thinking, “Oh no.. I am going to hate this novel.” because of lack of detail in the scenes and even the character dialogue. The guilt while reading was immense. I wanted to love the novel to its very core but I can’t say that I actually did. While I do not hate Starcrossed, it did not really do it for me.

I rated it a 3 because the concept was there and I did end up finishing it. It was impressionable to have me thinking about it a long while after I finished the novel but not completely engaging to where I couldn’t put it down. To me it was just average and while others will love it, like Twilight, many will not.

If you are a parent and your teenager wants to read the book, I would sit down with them and have a talk about how it is not normal for two people in love to want to inflict pain and death on each other and remind them that it is just a story and that you do not condone romanticizing violence. If you feel your pre-teen/teen can understand the difference between what is real and what has been made up to add interest to the story, then feel free to let them read Starcrossed.

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1 Comment

  1. Juju says

    Great review!

    Thanks for your thoughts on the things that kids should be explained before reading it.

    Side note: I had no idea you are from Central Florida. I use to live there.

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