Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini Starcrossed

487 pp.  HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers)  2011  ISBN: 978-0-06-201199-2

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: Purchased at author signing

Summary (From the publisher):

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.

I went to the Dark Days of Supernatural author event at Schuler Books & Music knowing that I wanted to buy a copy of Starcrossed and get it signed.  The summary piqued my interest and the cover had me in a daze.  The picture simply doesn’t do it justice; you MUST see it in person!  The cover is like Aphrodite’s cestus, it has me completely entranced and in love.  Anyway, once I heard Josephine start speaking about how her ideas came together to write this book, I knew I was going to like it.  She told us she was thinking about what would the Illiad be like in modern day?  What if you tied in a little Romeo and Juliet?  I was with my friend who also teaches English and our wheels started turning.  Starcrossed could work as a wonderful ladder helping teens connect with those classics.

Helen’s story starts off with mystery.  She’s living with her single dad because her mom up and left.  All of the pictures are gone, but Helen does have a necklace with a heart charm that her mother gave her.  The bigger mystery at the beginning of the story is when Helen starts talking about how odd she is because she’s constantly growing taller and has more strength than normal.  The tension increases when the Delos family moves to town and Helen can’t explain why she hates Lucas so much that she wants to kill him.  Plus, there’s the whole walking through a desert in her dreams until her feet bleed while three ladies wail and cry tears of blood.  Yep, I was hooked.

I’m not an expert on mythology by any means, so I can’t say how accurate the mythology included in Starcrossed is.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s pretty accurate considering Josephine’s author bio says she studied the classics and at the signing she spoke about the research she did.  It made me want to learn more about Greek mythology.  Including this history, however, didn’t make for a fast read.  I often found myself slowing my pace down and re-reading sections to make sure I understood what the characters were explaining.  The pace in which she includes it was great because I never felt like I was reading a book on Greek mythology.  Everything fit and felt like it was the right place to include some history.

There are many characters in Starcrossed to keep track of, but so worth it.  I enjoyed Helen as a character.  She isn’t very self-confident at first because she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her.  As the story continues and Helen learns more about herself, her self-confidence grows.  She’s very determined and compassionate, which I loved.  The story between Helen and Lucas had me hooked the moment they meet–it wasn’t quite the introduction I expected!  And it blossoms from there.  I’m guessing there’s going to be a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what happens between them considering the secrets and truths at the end of the book.  The supporting characters are excellent.  I especially love Ariadne and Hector.  Ari is a healer and someone Helen can confide in.  Hector is stubborn and aggressive.  Both of these characters’ traits really help drive the story forward.

My only nit-picky complaint is the length of the chapters.  Some were 30+ pages long.  I don’t know why chapter length is an issue with me, but it is.  I’m sure some readers could care less how long the chapters are, but for me and most of my students it’s an issue.  If there’s a second book, hopefully the chapters will be a little shorter.  Other than that minor detail, I really enjoyed Starcrossed.  I’m looking forward to more books by Josephine Angelini!

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