Friday, 1 July 2011

Book Review 4 - Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

The UK cover - it's gorgeous!
What a great book. Not without its faults, but still.

I could just end the review there. Seriously.

But I'm not going to do that...I want a chance to think about the book, and hopefully help people make a decision as to whether they want to read it. Now, I finished it the day after I bought it, and usually I have to wait a while before I can get over my excitement and think objectively about a book. I have to detach myself a little...

I got it because I'd heard about it and knew I wanted to read it; I had high expectations, and I wasn't disappointed. Josephine's writing is excellent, so visual and easy to imagine. And there were parts where I was laughing out loud - there are a lot of serious situations, action and romance, but there were lines that were just hilarious. I loved that about the book, because it gives comic relief against a backdrop of battles, trust and distrust, dark characters and lighter characters. There really is something for every YA reader, but it's done so perfectly you never feel there aren't enough themes or story arcs, and you never feel like there's too much happening at once and you just can't get your head around it. No, it's well-written and well-pitched - and things come to life right off the page. Which leads us to the characters.

It's told in the third person but from the point of view of Helen Hamilton, a sixteen year old girl from Nantucket. She lives with her dad because her mother ditched them when she young. She's five foot nine and strangely strong, fast and at the beginning of the book experiences some very weird things happening around her. (The word butch might come to mind, but it is made clear to the reader that she is pretty, and just doesn't really see it.) We are introduced to her school, her friends, in particular her best friend, the pint-sized and feisty Claire Aoki. And then the real focus of the book comes along; Lucas Delos. And, of course, the rest of his family; his sister and cousins are all teenagers and you envy the bonds they have with each other. His mother, Noel, has to be my favourite character though, after Ariadne. And by the end of the book I just wanted to reach out and give his little sister Cassandra a hug. The book is both plot and character-led, which I liked. I'm a sucker for big, noisy, fun families like the Deloses.

So you've got family dynamics, and an obvious love story. But that would make it just average teen chick lit, and very, very boring. So, add a dash of hatred, mortal enemies, and mythology - now we're talking.

The first time Helen sees Lucas she wants to kill him.

And thus begins a world of Scions (demigods), an irresistible urge to kill certain complete strangers, coming to terms with new powers, and oh, did I forget to mention the Furies? Among other things....the book was very enjoyable to read, with plot twists to keep you gripped and a gorgeous love story for romance fans.

It was a book I had to grow to love, though. Some books you instantly fall in love with; this one took a few chapters to get going. I thought the beginning was a little rushed and jumpy. I felt like Helen couldn't possibly accept the things she found out so easily, that she reacted too quickly to the gossip about the Delos family, although this is later partially explained. And the fact that at the beginning she doesn't think she's pretty and is a bit of an outcast, but by the end you hear that people have been calling her 'Heaven Hamilton' and really, she could have been popular all along. Somehow that just didn't sit right with me, but it could just be a personal thing. I also have a problem with the ending. It's a perfect one for a sequel, but I felt, as a reader, that I was cheated just a little bit by it.

Writing: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Re-readability: 3.5/5
Impact: 4.5/5

In less than five words: Mythological, excellent read, romantic, interesting.

Going to try to track down an excerpt now...


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