Book Reviews

[review] Starcrossed – Josephine Angelini

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.

Discovery: My mom raised me on a diet of Greek mythology, musicals and books, so when I first heard about this book, I knew I had to pick it up.

+     The cover. Photos don’t do this gorgeous shining cover justice. I have to give kudos to whoever designed it, as it’s easily one of the most eye-catching books in the store.

–     Poor writing. In any writing class, the phrase “show, don’t tell” will be heard by students at least once during a semester. After reading this book, it doesn’t seem as though the memo was passed to Josephine Angelini. Many parts of the book can be boiled down to “Helen did this. Then she did that. Then this. And then did a bit of that. Also, her dad did this.” Readers have imaginations. It’s not necessary to inform them of every single action done during a conversation. I also noticed a proclivity for tacking on an adverb after every “said.” Again, it’s not necessary to tell the reader exactly how a sentence was uttered. If phrased correctly, the reader will know.

–     Poor plotting. I had a very disturbing thought about 20 pages into the novel, and tried my best to dismiss it and go on reading. Unfortunately, I only came across more evidence that I was right: this book is a Greek-mythology version of Twilight. 

I’ll be very honest: I’m not a fan of Stephenie Meyer’s series. I used to be, which I think lends some credibility to my opinion–I don’t hate on books that I haven’t read. I was smitten, but quickly fell out of love after dissecting the series and its message. The similarities between these two books put me off almost immediately. Starcrossed‘s Helen is an angrier, more volatile Bella Swan. Lucas Delos pulls off a temperamental and irrational Edward Cullen. And everyone and everything else revolves around the instant and simultaneous animosity/fascination between them. Starting on page 80, I began to make a list of the similarities and couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I filled an entire 8.5×11-inch notebook page.

–     2D characters. Even before noticing the Twilight-ness of this novel, I had a difficult time actually sympathizing with any of the characters. None of them seemed real, nor did they stir any sort of emotion in me. I found myself confused by their actions more often than not, and unable to believe in their causes. Angelini attempts to give Greek myths a modern twist, but instead mixes them up so much that they are unrecognizable. Demigods can’t be more powerful than gods–that would kind of defeat the purpose of having a god, wouldn’t it? And The Iliad becomes nothing more than a lie, despite the historical evidence behind it. I’m not against retellings but so much of Angelini’s changes seem unnecessary.

Recommendations: I would not recommend this book. Twilight fans may enjoy it, but readers looking for something meatier to sink their teeth into will be disappointed.

Rating: Poor.

Josephine Angelini’s site is here.

Next review: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro


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