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Review: Starcrossed

July 18, 2011

Review: Starcrossed
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 310 (ebook)
Release Date: May 31, 2010
Format: eGalley from Netgalley (Thank you!)

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.—Goodreads

I think every kid goes through a phase where they are obsessed with Greek and/or Roman (and, sometimes, Norse or Native American) mythology. I went through that phase when I was eleven, and I’ve never really let it go. In fact, when I was in undergrad, I went to Greece to study art and architecture for a summer. (Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.)

Hello there Acropolis!
Hugging the Temple of Hera.

Suffice it to say, I was super excited to learn that Starcrossed is deeply rooted in Greek mythology and history. And though I really did enjoy this book in the end, I didn’t love it the way I wanted to. It started really rough for me, and took me a bit to get into. But I kept with it, and in the end, am very very glad that I did.

So let’s get the not-so-happy things out of the way first, shall we?

My first gripe is with the pacing. There were a lot of aspects about the book that the author takes an exceptionally long time to fully explain, which really super bugged me. For example, the main character, Helen (yes, she’s named after that Helen), who is a demigod but doesn’t know it, wears a necklace that means a lot to her and is referenced MANY TIMES throughout the book—it’s obvious that the necklace is going to come into play and be something bigger than just a necklace. But it isn’t until close to the END of the book that it’s explained. I found this really, really distracting because I kept thinking “What the bloody hell is going on with the necklace?!” I also feel like there was a lot of time devoted to exposition (which, I realize is important for this kind of book because not everybody is well versed in Greek mythology/history) but I kind of wished there was a bit less of it.

My second gripe is that the two characters I like the most, Helen’s best friend Claire, and Helen’s boss, Kate,  are sort of forgotten in the middle, and only sort of make a comeback. Both of these characters provided humor and warmth and strength for Helen, who can be a bit of a wet blanket, but when the Delos family moves to town, Claire and Kate are very much abandoned in the story. Which was sad for me because I kept thinking “I really want more Claire and Kate.” [Anyone else think of LOST when those two names are mentioned in the same sentence?!]

But that brings us to the Delos family, the ginormous group of  insanely attractive family members who all have very Greek mythology-inspired names (Lucas, Hector, Ariadne, Pandora, Cassandra, Jason,  Pallas, and Castor . . . yeah) and move from Spain to the island of Nantucket. Turns out, they are all demigods as well! And Helen inexplicably wants to KILL THEM, (particularly Lucas) which is AWESOME.

But she (mostly) gets over that urge, which is both good and sort of disappointing, because after she decides she doesn’t want to kill Lucas, there is full on angsty instalove. But it is all explained in a way that makes it very okay in the end.

Overall, this book is really involved and really smart. Angelini obviously knows the canon of Greek mythology and pays meticulous attention to the finer details, which makes her book very rich and lush with the infusion of Greek mythology, history, and lore. Despite some of my initial frustrations with Starcrossed, this is definitely a series that I want to stick with!

P.S.: If a movie is ever made of this series, the casting director needs to cast Tamsin Egerton as Helen. I really don’t think there’s any other option.

Tamsin Egerton

Favorite Quote: “As he walked out of the locker room he stripped off his bloody shirt and threw it in the garbage. Helen’s vision stabilized again, and she watched his bare back moving away from her. The last cobwebs clearing from his eyes, she decided that if Lucas was gay then she was going to have to get a sex change operation. He would be so worth it.”

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