Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 496
Received: ARC through blog tour
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page 


From Goodreads:

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.


Writing issues

I've read some...not very nice reviews about this book. Is there a lot to complain about? Yeah, I guess. The two main complaints I've heard is that a lot of the basics are reminiscent of Twilight and the writing isn't flawless. Ok, I can see that to an extent.

Except, I don't care. I was wrapped up in the book and I finished this gigantic near-500 page tome in just three days. For me, this was one of those books that I just wanted to read. Whenever I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I was reading it, the world disappeared. By the end of those near-500 pages all I wanted was 500 more!

The only thing that did give me pause was the narration style. Most of the book is told in the third person with a subjective focus on Helen, but every rare once in a while the view shifts for a scene or two to another character. This almost always happened when Helen wasn't present, so I get why the author did it, but it did feel a little bit like "one of these things doesn't belong." I'm not really sure what the solution would be (maybe include more chapters from other characters' points of view so it doesn't stand out and feel so random?), but something should be done with that.

There was also some room for improvement with the pacing. Objectively, I think Starcrossed was hit with a major case of Twilight Pacing Syndrome and should have been more tightly edited. There's a huge info-dump toward the end that can be a little overwhelming. Still, as with when I read Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, I wasn't really bothered. I liked the characters and even if they weren't doing much, I was still content to follow along with whatever it was they were doing.

Love is in the air

What started out as MEGA insta-hate rapidly turned into insta-love. Unlike most YA insta-love books, at least we're given an explanation for their quick feelings...sort of. I'll buy it and go with it for now to see where Josie takes things, but it's still just a little *too* insta-love for my tastes. Circumstances keep our star-crossed lovers separated for most of the book though, so at least I wasn't bored with extended soul-gazing scenes. Plus, no love triangle in sight, so yay for that!

As far as Helen and Lucas go, I like Helen and I'm cool with Lucas. Helen is the girl who didn't know she was special, but now realizes she's super-girl. Helen is almost a Mary Sue, but what saves her is how "normal girl" she is. She reminded me a lot of Clara from Unearthly. Yes, she's special, but at the end of the day she's a teenage girl with all of the insecurities, hopes, and fears that normal teenage girls have. I would invite her to my sleepover party. Plus, she's not weak and useless, so major points for saving me from that annoying plot device.

Lucas is nice and I'm very happy for Helen because he seems like a great catch, but I'm not jealous. She can have him. I want Hector (Lucas's cousin and NOT a romantic interest for Helen. He's more cocky alpha male). Don't get me wrong though, Lucas is totally swoon-worthy in both looks and personality.

Twilight 2 + Greek

Yes, there are numerous Twilight similarities here and I know I'll be handing a copy of Starcrossed to all my library people who loved Twilight. But so what if there are similarities? It's a totally different story and I think even people who disliked Twilight could get on board with Starcrossed (Helen is like the anti-Bella and Lucas isn't weird). There were two things I really liked about Twilight, and those two things are present here: Family and history.

I absolutely loved the big family feeling we got from the Cullens in Twilight, and we get that same feeling here with the Delos clan. I don't care if I'm reading scenes about the Delos clan ordering a pizza or some other mundane and otherwise boring event. I just want to vicariously be a part of their family.

The history in Starcrossed takes its inspiration from Greek mythology, but Josephine Angelini really made it her own. Yes, I'm sure Greek myth sticklers will have a field day with this, but whatever. Bottom line is, Josephine Angelini has created an epic story with likable characters, an engrossing history, edge of your seat fights, star-crossed love, and super high stakes. I thought it was pretty awesome. 

Enough of the history is explained here that I feel grounded and satisfied, but there's still so much more yet to uncover. The peeling back of these layers and learning all about the history really kept me turning the pages. Josephine Angelini sweetens the pot even more by adding a few really duplicitous characters. Not only do you have a ton of history, but unraveling it all is complicated by the lies spun by these sly characters. The final 1/4 had me at the edge of my seat and gasping at what was going on. I cannot wait for the next book to come out so I can find out more!

Please don't leave me like this!!

The bane of YA books: The CLIFFHANGER!!! Yep, it's here. I tried making notes, but even writing down the family tree was a complicated mess with a bizillion annotations and asides (I'm in heaven!). A TON of stuff happens here, and it's all twisty like a soap opera. I'm so going to have to reread Starcrossed before I read book 2 if I want to understand anything. But I will SO DO THAT because I am 100% definitely and with no reservations going to be continuing on with this series (Book 2: Dreamless, published sometime in 2012).

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Starcrossed that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

If Starcrossed sounds like a book you might enjoy, then be sure to stop by on Wednesday when I post up my part of Lucas's letter to Helen as part of the blog tour! 

Check out the previous stops HERE.

Not only will you get a chance to win Starcrossed, but you can also enter for a chance to win a Kindle 3WiFi, a personalized letter from the author, and a Gelaskin of Starcrossed's cover art!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the cover to go to my review.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "I would invite her to my sleepover party." *lol*

    And yes! I totally agree with you on the whole Hector-Lucas thing. I liked Lucas, thought he was ridiculously hot, but went to all swoon-ish when Hector waltzed in. Why is it that the female masses of book readers have a tendency to fall for the cocky/arrogant SOBs? xD!

    And like you the history really did me in. Still, I wasn't as impressed as you were with this one. I'm hoping that I'm more receptive to the second one

  3. Love this review. I have read a lot of mixed reviews for this book but I still really want to read it. The only thing I am worried about is that cliffhanger ending. Why do they do this to us?

  4. I just finished this one and I really enjoyed it. I agree with the points you made, and I also felt Helen sometimes got kind of whiney in the middle. Usually, I never ever complain about characters, but for some reason that just stuck out to me. Also, I was kind of surprised with Daphne. She seemed to suddenly be integrated in everyone's lives again. I loved the big family feel too! I wouldn't mind eating breakfast with them :) Great review!

  5. It might have major flaws, but I'm still looking forward to reading it. I loved Twilight and I'm pretty sure I'll love this one too. The one I just finished and need to write a review for was very 'Twilighty' too, but I still loved it!

  6. This is great review- you have been very honest about the writing. Like you, I've read a lot of mixed reviews but I love the sound of this book and still want to read this.

  7. I thought the cliffhanger in this one was very clever. I'm guessing that even people who don't fall in love with the book will want to read the next one because of this!

    I had some issues with this one too. The narration style, the character of Helen, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. Also, a lot of people have mentioned the Twilight comparisons - for me, the biggest similarity was the Delos family and the fact that I warmed to them just as much as I warmed to the Cullen family. I loved that about Twilight, and I loved it about this book, so I didn't see it as a bad thing. :)

    I enjoyed reading your review. :)

  8. Yeah, I've read some less than positive reviews of this one, which is why I've been kind of wary of it. Thanks for the balanced, honest review though - you've given me a better idea of what to expect!

  9. Really glad you enjoyed this one too! I loved it:) I think there's always comparisons you can make with any book to another book, but I just try to read for the enjoyment factor and I really enjoyed the story and characters. I will definitely be continuing with the series as well!

  10. Okay, I'm really worried about the "almost Twilight" comparisons. But at the same time I'm really curious because some of the things you mentioned doesn't sound Twilight (I'd know if you wrote something about the pace, for example).

    So I'm in the fence, but I waaaant. Love the review. =)

  11. That was a lovely and thorough review, I loved it.

    I had no idea the book was so long!!! I don't know how I feel about that, since I hate when I feel a book should have been edited better - as you said it has the twilight pacing syndrome - and I dunno.

    Still, I sort of want to try it but I'll probably wait till the series is over since my psyche is just way to frail too deal with big cliffhangers - I'm still hung up on the one for Demonglass and I read that one months and months ago.

  12. Great, thorough review! I definitely know what you mean by the insta-love and third person narration that didn't fit issues, but I'm glad they were passable. The Greek mythology is what drove me to consider Starcrossed, so yay for that, and I actually DID like the big family feel in Twilight, so another plus. I'll have to look into this one a bit more since it is 500-ish pages of either, it seems, like or dislike, but thanks! :D

  13. Great review. I loved this book as well. I don't really understand when people complain that the Greek mythology in books isn't done properly. These are works of fiction, shouldn't they have some allowance for interpretation?

    I agree with you, I LOVED the big family. As with the Cullens, it just seems like it would be so much fun to hang out in that household.

    I can't wait for the sequel!

  14. Okay, I won't rant about the Twilight thingy. I'll just say that the pacing, Helen, the narration none of that interrupted my enjoyment of Starcrossed. The length as you said is almost 500 pages, but like you I wanted 500 more. I cannot wait for Dreamless! I so loved this book, it had everything I expect a YA novel to have in it and the Greek mythology was just icing on the cake. I loved the Delos family and that it took place on Nantucket, so close to me, made me love it probably just a little bit more!

    Great Review Small!

  15. Well, 500 pages is very, very frightening for me. In fact my hands are shaking as I type this just from the thought of delving into such a long book -eeek!

    But, its sounds good. I loved Unearthly, so if its anything like that maybe I should be brave and give it a try. Betrayal is another long book I just picked up recently, which is really long. I want to read it too but I'm chicken!

  16. I've also read some negative reviews for this one so it's nice to read your perspective. Despite the definite Twilight similarities, I have faith that, like you said, it can distinguish itself enough and still be enjoyed by people who disliked Twilight. Looking forward to reading this one myself... maybe I'll wait until the sequel is just about to come out though :)

  17. I've seen some not great reviews for this one, am always wary of hyped books and can't seem to get into Starcrossed. But, since I know we have similar tastes and trust Jenny's and your reviews, I will keep reading my copy from NetGalley and hope that I can sucked into the story too.

  18. Great review!
    "Whenever I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I was reading it, the world disappeared."
    LOVE books like this - I'll definitely check this one out now!

  19. Awesome review! I really want to read this one, even if I have read some not so amazing reviews, because I have a fascination with ancient history and mythology. Even though I didn't like Twilight, I don't mind the similarities because these things existed in books before, too.

  20. I am very carefully biting my tongue with this book. I've read a couple of reviews on Goodreads that absolutely trashed this book, and I don't think it's that bad by any means, but I did have issues with it. I couldn't get over the fact that the middle third of the book, basically nothing happens and we don't even meet the villain until the end of the book. I needed more conflict than just a vague threat on her life.

    And this is where I end my ranty whining.

  21. Asher, LOL, I don’t know! There’s just something about the cocky arrogant guy that I love :) I don’t actually love that in real life, but in books, oh so swoony! I hope we see more of Hector in the sequel, especially with what happened. I hope that now that a lot of the stage setting is out of the way the second book will be more like the final quarter of the first book.

    Nic, I know! I’m so sad about all the cliffhangers we’ve been getting lately :( I think I’ll really have to reread this book in order to remember all of the history and details. I was talking about it with someone the other day and already I’ve forgotten a lot of important stuff.

    T. B., I’ve heard a lot of people say that about Helen, but she didn’t bother me. I think I was just too into the book. I agree about Daphne. She did just kind of pop in there and then became this big character. I don’t trust her at all though. I’m curious to find out what she’s really up to.

    The Slowest Bookworm, I think if you loved Twilight then you’ll love Starcrossed. It may have its flaws, but I had a lot of fun reading it, and for me that matters more than sentence structure.

    Sally, Thank you! If it sounds good to you then you should totally check it out! I hope you love it. For me, yeah, I can see the complaints about the writing, but overall I just had fun reading the book and that’s what matters to me.

    Leanna, Yeah, the narration style was a little off. Not terrible, but enough that when it switched I was jarred out of the book. I totally agree. The Delos family reminded me of the Cullens with the “big happy family” thing and I liked that. Not a bad thing at all to me. :)

    Danya, You’re welcome! I hope you like it. It’s not perfect, but I had fun with it and that matters more to me.

  22. Jenny, Me too! I wanted to mention the Twilight similarities because I can see them, but also because I know people will be reading a bunch of reviews saying “It’s just like Twilight” and I wanted to address how. To me, the similarities were basically taking all the things I liked about Twilight (except the pacing) and adding it here. And you’re right, those things also aren’t Twilight originals (it’s not like Twilight has the market cornered on big families with history :P)

    Dazzling Mage, Well, for me the pacing was one of the things that reminded me of Twilight. As for the rest, I think a lot of the comparisons are people reaching too far. I wouldn’t be too scared of the Twilight references. The romance is different and Helen/Lucas aren’t like Bella/Edward.

    Alex, Thank you! It definitely did have TPS, but I barely noticed it. I’m soooo bad when it comes to big books or slow books and I didn’t mind this book at all. I flew through it. I can totally understand waiting for the sequels to be published though. There is a big cliffhanger here and there’s tons of stuff to remember for the next book. I had heard about that Demonglass cliffhanger and I sent the book back to the library unread because I’m too afraid of it!

    Jenn, Thank you! I think if you like the characters, liked Twilight, and like the big family feel then you’ll probably like Starcrossed. It’s a lot of pages, but they go down easy (and I’m usually so intolerant of large page counts). I liked the way she incorporated Greek mythology. It was fun, especially with the names and how the different characters act according to the myths.

    Kaitlyn, Thank you! I agree with you about bending the mythology a little. I don’t mind the changes she made because it still feels like it’s in the spirit, you know? Plus, so much of Greek mythology contradicts itself and has numerous variations. Sometimes I’m a stickler, but this case didn’t bother me. Right? Hanging out in that household would be awesome!

    Heather, Haha, thank you :) I liked Helen. She seemed nice and she didn’t bother me. Ooh yes, that location must have been an added bonus for you!

  23. Gina, I was terrified of the page count too, but it really went down easy for me. It was a lot like Unearthly for me. I could see Helen and Clara being friends and there’s a lot of history and information to absorb here too. I could see you liking it. Just be careful of that cliffhanger!

    Aylee, For perspective, I would probably give Twilight (the first book) a 2 and the series overall a 2.5 or a 3. It was just ok for me. But I really liked Starcrossed. For me I liked Helen and Lucas a lot more than Bella and Edward and Helen doesn’t have so much inner monologue that just goes on and on about the same thing like Bella does. Waiting until just before the sequel comes out would be a good idea though because of that cliffhanger and all of the info you’d have to try to remember.

    A Canadian Girl, Hyped books usually turn me off completely. I think the hype is deserved for Starcrossed in that I had a lot of fun with it, but I don’t think it’s the best thing since sliced bread either. I wouldn’t go into it expecting a life changing event, but hopefully you’ll get a fun ride with enjoyable characters. :)

    Belle, I hope you enjoy it!

    Kay, Thank you! Those things did exist in books before, and I like them so I’d take the Twilight comparisons lightly. The reviews that go all out pulling out substitute characters and stuff just seem like a stretch to me. I hope you enjoy the book! I liked how Josie took mythology and blended it with her own ideas to create her own unique history.

    Logan, lol, please don't worry about biting your tongue! I definitely get what you're saying about the extended beginning. I would have cut and condensed a lot of that middle part, too. This is one of those books where, objectively, I can totally see the complaints. But for whatever reason it just clicked with me and I liked it despite the problems. Just look on the bright side, I won't have to fight you for Hector now :)

  24. This book definitely had writing issues and Twilight-like qualities but I still really enjoyed it! It was very addictive to read, right?

    Fabulous review!

  25. YA Book Queen, Totally addictive! I just flew right through it.

    Margay, Thank you!

  26. I agree with a LOT of what you said. This book was really hard for me to review. I always try to be positive with my reviews, but there were a lot of flaws I wanted to touch upon. I feel that the review for STARCROSSED was my "harshest" review ever, and I fretted over posting it. I did enjoy it, but it WAS flawed.

  27. I really want to read this! I've starred it and will be ordering it as soon as payday hits.


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