How do you defy destiny?
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
The questioned posed is one we have certainly heard before. How does one go about fooling the fates? Impossible, it would seem, to change what is written in the stars. Unless you’re the star of this story. Then it’s really quite easy. Basically, you just do.
Let me borrow the summary from amazon’s product description:
“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.”
Now let’s discuss. This book was crap. I read it on a plane down to Guyana. I had nothing else to do. So I read it. Every time I read a passage that was particularly bad, I dog-eared the page. The whole book was mutilated by the time I finished. Honestly, I think I got more joy out of hunting down awkward sentences than I did from the actual story.
To really understand why I so disliked this story, we’re going to do it methodically. First, the concept.
As I read, I realized that this book didn’t really have much to do with Greek gods. You may recall that I am a fan of all mythology and I enjoy retellings, or reading modern mythological adventures, like the Percy Jackson series. However, as I went through this one it dawned upon me that the Greek aspect was like just a tarp strung up so certain things could happen. For example, the kids couldn’t have “demigod powers” if there were no Greek gods to give it to them.
Never mind the fact that the kids’ linage makes very little sense. What bothers me is the waste of Greek subject matter. This story is just Twilight– forbidden love with the idea that the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it becomes. In Twilight, the Volturri were coming for Bella if she didn’t get her vampire on; here, Helen and her interest, Lucas, were going to start the Trojan war again.
Yeah, we’ll get back to that.
I feel like there is so much to draw from and immerse the story in with Greek myths, but what was the point if it’s just for convenience? I realize that the author was trying to redo Helen of Sparta’s love with Paris in a modern way, but if you’re not really using the Greek then why not do something like Disney did with Macbeth and make a Lion King– use the idea and create your own world? I think that would have been a lot more interesting because the bits of Greek were just confusing.
Now let’s address this re-ignition of the Trojan War. I feel like this, the essence of the whole story, is so convoluted and wild that nobody could buy it, not even for a second. I certainly didn’t. It has to do with the fact that Helen, when she first meets Lucas, wants to kill him. This is because the Furies are igniting this burning desire to brutally murder people of opposing House (House being the Houses that were still bearing grudges each other after the Trojan war). In fact, they start several to-the-death fights, but because at some point they manage to save each others’ lives, this stops them from wanting to kill each other. This is extremely convenient for the romantic aspect of the book. After all, it’s kinda hard to love someone when you just can’t help yourself from trying to rip their throat out.
Aside from being hugely baffling, all these details take extensive and boring passages to explain and they still make little sense afterwards. If my explanations sound confusing to you, it’s because I’m still trying to figure this story out. And this whole House battling thing gets even more complex, as powers are reviled, villains introduced and suddenly the Greek gods start playing a role, parentage comes in and– whoo! It’s like a mental swirly.
Now, I can handle a well crafted plot that has many intricacies. But this was hard. For a very long time in the story, nothing much happened, and then everything I mentioned above came out to play in the last fifty or so pages. So much at once! What was the rest of the book for? Certainly not build up. Perhaps emergency fire fuel?
Ha…okay, maybe that was cruel.
Or maybe I am just a bitter old goat.
So, characters. I thought Helen was a bore. She had a best friend that was more interesting by roughly ten thousand light years. I don’t understand why authors are so big these days on choosing the most boring person in the entire city for their main characters. Seriously, what is up with that? Was there a sale– two dull lovers for the price of originality?
Anyways, Helen was just another girl. This book was told in third person, but it actually felt really awkward to me. For a while I thought maybe it was just me, since I hadn’t read a third person character in so long. Then I read Game of Thrones afterwards and realized it was just the book. Sometimes I feel like a book should have been written in first; this was one of those times. Simply because Helen had so many thoughts and I’d rather she just thought them without the author having a chance to explain every reason behind it and over analyze the whole thing. Also, the use of pronouns was weird. Can that even be weird? Well, it was.
Lucas, her love, was normal. He was athletic, handsome, daring, everything one could desire in a somewhat Greek hero. How can this seemingly beyond average description be rendered normal in my eyes? Well, he was just like every other boy I’ve come across in teen fiction. Simply perfect. Simply boring.
A huge portion of this book relies on destiny– Helen and Lucas are destined to be with each other. They, then by default, are in love. But is that just because of destiny or because they really like each other? Oh the questions that keep me up at night. For ease of understanding, let’s just say this book had a lot of the author telling us stuff, and way less of the characters showing us who they are.
Lucas comes from a big family (no, not the Cullens) and they all were very violent and weird and ate a lot because apparently being a “demigod” requires literally sitting down and eating for hours. The family interactions were hectic but tiresome. I didn’t really care about them until the end when stuff finally got interesting. This family, plus Helen’s BFF, and Helen’s dad consist of all the characters in the story. Now, I know Nantucket is supposed to be small town, but containing the whole story within ten or so people really limited exposure to different types of characters. Anything that might have been quirky was worn out real fast.
Okay, I’ve been holding this back for a while, but I’m just gonna let it loose now. Remember how I said some parts of this story were just too weird to make sense? Well, mild spoilers ahead, I’m just gonna come out and say it.
First, Helen’s BFF knew she was a demigod/special from an early age because she stabbed her and pushed her off a roof once. Helen does not recall this until the BFF admits to it and it’s all, cool, well I know you tried to kill me but at least you can be in on my secrets! That was not only a stupid way of handling the situation (being that Helen wanted her BFF to be in on it all), it just makes no sense. Friends do not try to kill other friends!
Second, and this is the real zinger, Helen and Lucas are related. This is because they are first cousins. Now their romance is doomed. Okay. It’s not really a zinger. For a few reasons. First, because of Cassandra Clare’s books. Been there, done that. Second, because you’re working with Greek gods! All they did was intermarry! I mean, seriously, if you’re descended from gods, it would be pretty obvious that you’re gonna share some blood. Was this supposed to be shocking because they were first cousins? Honestly, I don’t see why that should change anything. They’ve already made out with each other. Helen has already decided she wants to lose her virginity to him. Seriously. You’re past the point of no return, sister.
But wait, there’s more. Just a few pages after, it’s revealed that they’re not. This is done offstage, away from Helen and Lucas. So my question was what the heck was the point of that? It’s now definitely not going to change their relationship so there is no suspense because we readers already know the truth. Was it a ploy to add more teenage angst into the story? God forbid we run short on that.
No. Let me get serious. This book has made my review wildly disorganized and rather rantish. I’m going to stop. I have a life (kinda) and I should probably go to bed. It’s like, 2 in the morning. This isn’t good for me.
My biggest beef is that this book was praised as being Percy Jackson for girls. First of all, Percy Jackson for girls? I’m a girl. I loved Percy Jackson. Books are not gender specific. Second, this was nothing like Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson had smooth integration of Greek myths and modern times. This book plucked that historical chicken whenever it made a good plot-point. But yeah, I get that the author can’t control what people say about her book. So I’ve just go to let that one go.
The point I’m trying to make here is that this book is not worth your time. The last fifty pages, maybe, but if you’ve read Twilight, then the action is exactly the same. There is a cliffhanger ending, as expected. However, this is an author’s debut. I’m praying that she will get better in forthcoming books. I will give her a pass. I will give her a star for effort, and one for the fact that at least I made it through the book.
In the end, this book wasn’t all that bad. It was just average and dissapoiting.
I don’t want you to read this first book; I think I’ve told you everything you need to know. Instead, when the second comes out, let’s read it together and pray to the deity of your choice that her Tisch education will be utilized.
0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…
1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.
2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.
3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.
4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).
5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.
6 and above. What I want my book to be.