Thursday, July 21, 2011
Book Review: Starcrossed
Published: HarperTeen (May 31, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Purchased a copy
Young Adult * Paranormal Romance * Greek Mythology
Description from Goodreads:
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.
There has been a lot of hype about Starcrossed. I've seen it explode everywhere, from the book-blogosphere to Goodreads, to dominating shelves in Borders and Barnes & Noble, so to say that I was a little intrigued would be an understatement. I started this book a few days ago just as something to pass the time while I packed, so I could get all the early boring backstory out of the way and dive into the meaty stuff while on vacation.... except the book never made it on the plane. I devoured Starcrossed in less than 24 hours. I was that absorbed by it. It was a very cute paranormal romance, but it also had some great fresh elements that made it stand out from the crowd -- especially the roots in Greek mythology.
One of the coolest things about this story was the Greek mythology. The protagonist, Helen, and her love interest, Lucas, are intertwined -- starcrossed lovers, actually, if you'll allow me the pun -- in a way that involves the old Greek stories. I won't spoil it for you, but I thought it was a very original concept, especially since Josephine Angelini didn't rely on the old vampire/werewolf/fallen angel/faerie standby. You don't have to know anything about Greek mythology to appreciate the story, but if you are familiar with some of the stories then you might catch some subtle references that the general reader might miss. As someone who knows very little about Greek mythology, I loved that every new plot development caught me by surprise and I wasn't able to anticipate where the story was going. (And when I did start to "figure it out," a few chapters later, I realized I was wrong.) My favorite element of young adult literature is usually the budding romance, but this is one of the few paranormal romance novels wherein I actually found myself more drawn to the plot action and world of the story than the boy-girl interaction.
I say this, but I also loved the Lucas-Helen interaction. I liked that their relationship didn't start off as a love at first sight scenario, when two days later they are professing the inability to breathe without each other. The relationship has a rather interesting start and grows at a believable pace, and they have such great chemistry on the page. I was particularly fond of Lucas and his story. Helen was also interesting, especially in how she comes to realize that she is part of the "paranormal" (or "Greek") world. Her hallucinations are genuinely creepy and information is revealed slowly, rather than building up to a "big reveal" chapter.
I just loved how Angelini paced the novel, always keeping you guessing, but never frustrating you... unless it was absolutely necessary. The characters were very interesting, especially in Lucas' family -- I loved Hector probably more than Lucas even -- and there are several exciting things that happen at the end that leave me on the edge of my seat. As someone who reads a lot of teen paranormal romance, I will admit that there were some elements of the romantic plotline that were similar to a couple other novels I've read, which is probably why I preferred the action plot that was totally unpredictable. I wouldn't call this a cliffhanger ending per se, but Starcrossed definitely ends as things are kicking up several notches. Just remembering those last 50 or so pages gets my heart racing. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend, especially to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Maggie Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and Shannon Delaney's 13 to Life series. A must-read for fans of paranormal romance, looking for something a cut above most and wildly original.
Her official website is: http://www.josephineangelini.com/