Sunday, 3 April 2011

STARCROSSED BY JOSEPHINE ANGELINI

THE BLURB:

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.

THE REVIEW:

DAMN YOU JOSEPHINE ANGELINI HOW COULD YOU LEAVE IT LIKE THAT ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL PEOPLE HOW AM I EVEN SUPPOSED TO SLEEP TONIGHT YOU ARE EEEEEVIIIILLL...!

*Pant, Pant*

Okay, it's fine. I'm calm now.

Suffice it to say, then, that STARCROSSED ends on a fairly huge cliffhanger. And anyone who knows me knows that I *do not* like cliffhangers. At all. I usually deduct a star from my rating of books that end this way, because it ruins my enjoyment to be left hanging like that. I also usually preface reviews of such books by saying: 'Don't pick this book up until the series/trilogy is complete'.

But I can't do that in this case, because STARCROSSED is just. That. Good.

STARCROSSED, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
  1. A beautifully thought out and cohesive mythic structure for the story to play out within? Check.
  2. A whole host of complex and wonderfully changeable characters who evolve and surprise the reader constantly throughout the story? Check.
  3. A well-paced plot which never quite twisted in the way I was expecting and which forced me to read the book literally in one sitting because I had to know What Happened Next? Check.
  4. Pared down, competent writing with some really lovely descriptive touches and a minimum of repetitiveness? Check.
  5. A strong, real, wonderful heroine who seemed like an actual person instead of a reader/author insert? Check.
  6. A hero who I could actually fall in love with instead of wanting to whack around the head with a two-by-four? CHECK!
I think I've pretty much summed it up there, but let me delve a little bit deeper on some of my favourite points.

First of all Helen, our protagonist in this story, is ridiculously beautiful. Yes, yes - yawn. And when I say that Helen doesn't really notice or care about her own beauty, you'll roll your eyes. But it's not like that. You see, Helen values other things about people than the way they look. She's been brought up by a rumpled, seemingly average, loving father who has taught her to look a little deeper than the average teenager. Helen doesn't walk around (as certain heroines do) bemoaning how ugly/normal/average she is despite the fact that everyone treats her like a hottie. She just DOESN'T CARE. And this fact does not win her any fans amongst her schoolmates, none of whom can quite believe that she doesn't know how gorgeous she is.

But Helen has a great best friend and a wonderful support system within her family (her father and his co-worker Kate) and, frankly, too much attention gives her stomach cramps anyway, so she just shrugs it off. She's aware that she's a little stronger and faster than the people around her, but she wants to get on with her normal, human life, so she pushes that away too.

When she first meets the gorgeous new boy in town (Lucas) and his gorgeous family, is she instantly smitten by how beautiful they are, and fancying herself in love? No way. Helen couldn't really care less about how people look. And she's got way more important stuff to worry about, like the nightmares and the fact that she's getting violent impulses towards Lucas and keeps wanting to strangle him. It's only after Lucas proves to Helen that he's worthy of her interest that she begins to develop feelings for him. Any guy who can sweetly reassure a girl and make her laugh after she has accidentally crushed his ribcage is A-O-flipping-Kay with Helen (and with me too).

Helen gradually gains confidence throughout the book, tranforming from a shy, painfully diffident girl to one who can walk tall no matter what. Some of the book's most moving passages show her finally coming to accept and glory in how fast she can run, how hard she can push, and her various other talents (which, by the way? ARE AWESOME). At no point does she look in a mirror and realise 'Oh, I'm pretty!' She becomes more confident because she realises that she owns her own strength and power. How feminist is THAT? I love it!

And because Helen is a strong character with her own opinions and viewpoint, her relationship with the too-hot-to-be-real Lucas is convincing and truly romantic. She's woman enough to stand up to him and not be overwhelmed by everything he can do. Even though he spends a lot of time teaching Helen and educating her about her powers, he never patronises her - or at least, when he shows signs of it, she slaps him down. Their affinity and deepening love for each other is wonderful.

A quick shout-out must go to the secondary cast here. I love it when I feel as if each and every person in a story is nuanced and interesting enough to probably carry a book of her own, and STARCROSSED pulls that off and more. I adored how the author tricked me into believing I could tell which people were friends and which enemies, and then flipped it all on me. Hector is a great example of this. At the beginning of the story I was seriously hoping Helen would wrench his head off. By the end I was weeping quietly over his tragedy. Ah, Hector. *Sigh*

A word of warning. For some reason I found the first chapter, maybe the first chapter and a half of STARCROSSED really hard to get into. I felt as if a little too much backstory was being pushed at me all at once. You may or may not experience this - but if so, push through it and I guarantee you will not be sorry.

In closing - STARCROSSED is the book that has renewed my faith in the overcrowded paranormal genre. It's a heart-wrenchingly romantic action adventure story with strong characters and a breathless plot. The next book, DREAMLESS, cannot come too soon. 
Pre-Order Links One and Two

20 comments:

Alex Mullarky said...

Sounds amazing! Adding it to my wishlist!

Zoë Marriott said...

DO! I have - the US hardback of course (I am such a hardback addict).

Christina T said...

Fantastic review! Makes me want to read the book even more :) I am curious about which myths will be used and if any gods or goddesses will appear (besides the Three Fates which are hinted at in the description). Is Helen like The Helen of Greek mythology? Is this a retelling of The Iliad? I can't wait to find out!

Zoë Marriott said...

Oh my LORD I want to talk about that *so much* - which myths, which gods, which heroes - but I can't! I had to completely cut that bit out of my review, even though I LOVE the Greek myths, because it was just too spoilery! But the author is v. v. cunning, and I adored the way she treated the myths and reinterpreted them. Awesome.

Raimy-rawr said...

Thank you!
I was really put off by the way Netgalley was saying it was Twilight with a twist of Greek Myth but I know after our little twitter convo that time that if you like it then it ain't anything like twilight ;)
thanks for a great review... *Goes to add to wishlist* x

Zoë Marriott said...

I wish they wouldn't keep slapping that on books where it isn't the least appropriate! I suppose I can see why some people might feel the set-up has a hint of the Twilight-ish about it on the surface - a gorgeous new boy and his unearthly, beautiful family in town, plus an awkward, initially shy heroine. But that is where the resemblance begins and ENDS.

Emma said...

I hold you at least partially responsible for the fact that my rent money disappears on books! Pre-ordering as we speak! I can't resist a bit of Greek Mythology! Also (I haven't had proper Internet connection over the weekend) I was surprised by how good a singer you are - do your talents ever end?!

Zoë Marriott said...

Sorry! But, to be honest, I never get you to pre-order anything that I haven't pre-ordered (with next month's rent) myself...

Um. Thank you. *Blushes. Flees*

Megha Z said...

AHHH! I really wanna read this now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isabel said...

OMGOMGOMG. I WANT THIS RIGHT NOWWWWW. Great review -- I can't wait to read this. EEPPP!!!!!

Zoë Marriott said...

And in this case, you in the US don't have to wait as long as us in the UK, Isabel! It's out there for 31st of May, while I'll need to wait until June.

Isabel said...

But why will you have to wait for it, if you've already read it? ;)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Curse of Chalion have arrived but they're at the post office -- we're going to pick them up tomorrow. I'm excited to read all of these books! And Angel. I ordered that from the Book Depository, so it may take a little bit longer, but I'm super duper excited about that too! (Thanks to you LOL. There are so many books that I read that, if not for you and your blog, I would never even know existed!)

Zoë Marriott said...

I mean that I have to wait for a real, physical copy - right now I only have an eARC which is supposed to expire the day the book is published. Besides, I always want a physical copy of any eARC that I've loved. It's the best way to support the author!

Isabel said...

Oh, of course. :) I suppose you're not a particular fan of these ebooks and kindles? Nether am I. There's something about physical books... the smell of the pages, the cover that you can go back to and admire, the way the pages feel when you flip them, the weight of the book in your hands... we spend so much time staring at the screen all day long. The last thing I want to do is have to read while staring at another screen. And yes, supporting authors that you love is always a good thing. :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Well, I find them convenient in some ways - US publishers aren't going to send physical ARCs to me in the UK, for instance. And it's nice to be able to download lots of books for a long train journey instead of having to have a gigantic bag and getting a sore shoulder and then having nowhere to put my legs because my books take up too much space! But if I love a book, I'm always going to want to have a real copy of it, and nothing will ever keep me from loving bookshops and spending hours in them.

Megha Z said...

My dad asked if I wanted to buy a Kindle, but I just said no. Put it bluntly. I prefer actually having the book in my hand... it feels more real. But my dad's HTC Desire (touchscreen mobile) has a Kindle app, so I can download books on there and read.

Zoë Marriott said...

Lucky you! Whenever I look at my ereader I always sigh as I think of how many *real* books I could have bought with the money...

Isabel said...

Of course, what you say makes sense -- kindles and ereaders (I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to call them) are more convenient in many ways -- but, I don't know, I just think that reading from actual books is so much nicer when you're huddling near the fire with some hot chocolate in the wintertime... but, yes, kindles do have their ups. I just definitely prefer to read from an actual copy that I can hold in my hands. :)

I'mDifferentButMe said...

"Real" books are definately best. Can you do a post sometime with links to the books you've done reviews? I seem to be doing a lot of re-reading recently (Inheritance trilogy and House of Night) :)

Zoë Marriott said...

I post all my reviews on my Goodreads account, so I can give you a link to that right now! Look: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1025280.Zo_Marriott

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...