Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini

HarperTeen (2011)
487 pages
YA / Supernatural / Mythology

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Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—now it's getting harder. She's having nightmares of a desperate desert journey, visions of three women weeping tears of blood. And why is she possessed by the sudden, unstoppable urge to kill the handsome new boy in school, Lucas Delos?

A love written in the stars . . .

A feud started in ancient Greece . . .

A curse not even the gods can break.

Somewhere late in the game I realized exactly why I was enjoying Starcrossed as much as I was – it’s The Vampire Diaries with demigods. There’s even an oblivious guy named Matt that is the last to figure out he’s surrounded by all these people with crazy superpowers. It’s just so much fluffy nonsense that was a nice palate cleanser after my last couple of reads. I guess I can officially call off my temporary YA detox if this paranormal romance full of clichés and characters making bad choices managed to still entertain me.

The character of Helen is a cliché on the surface. She’s the incredibly beautiful girl who hates attention and thinks everyone hates her. I didn’t like her so much as I enjoyed the trials she was put through and found it interesting to see how she reacted to all these sudden weird developments. Even as her character is further developed, it’s less about becoming three dimensional and more about strange inconsistencies within her own personality. By the end of Starcrossed, Helen is not the same girl she was at the beginning. Or the middle. Or even a hundred pages before the end. There’s a weird and sudden change to her character that doesn’t make a lot of sense with the amount of information given to the reader.

Mostly I liked the Delos family. Yes, they were all absolutely gorgeous and super talented and brilliant and blah blah blah. But they also had a fun family dynamic that seemed real despite the extremely strange situation they lived in. Even brutish Hector was an interesting character to me. To be completely honest, our hero Lucas was the least interesting of his crew and his will-they-won’t-they relationship with Helen – while better than a love triangle – never made me feel all gooey inside or want to yell at them to get together already. I much rather have spent all that time with his sister Cassandra or the wonder healing twins or even exploring Helen’s nightmares more. Lucas and Helen were the least interesting characters in the entire book (just like Stefan and Elena are the least interesting on The Vampire Diaries) and yet I never got bored.

I had a couple of additional problems, primarily with how accepting Helen’s father was with his daughter disappearing all the time for nights on end. Yes, he yelled a little, but he was mostly absent. I also felt that Helen’s human friends never got any development and were flat characters with random – and often unnecessary – mood swings. And then there are the bad guys, who seem to lack the ability to think logically and put pieces of a whole together. There was a fair share of bad decision making on both sides of the fight, which got a little frustrating by the end.

There’s nothing surprising about Starcrossed, but Angelini is a skilled storyteller and has a very smooth sort of writing style. Despite the plentiful typos and nagging sense that this book needed another round of copy editing before publication, I still enjoyed the ride. It reads very quickly and, despite the clichés and occasional flat character, it was entertaining. Perhaps it’s the novelty of utilizing ancient Greek mythology to tie your characters together or that the background of the different houses made an interesting sort of sense to me, but the overarching plot of the book left me not wanting to put it down.

Despite all rational thought pointing towards me hating this book, I enjoyed it. It’s pretty surface level, but the idea of using Greek mythology and the Fates made it seem like a much newer story than it actually is. Angelini’s writing flowed so well that the flaws didn’t bother me as much as in other books. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the sequel.