Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini
Release date- May 31st 2011
Publisher- Harper Teen
496 pages
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.

Epic. That's what Starcrossed is Epic. Yes, it's 496 pages long, but that's not what I mean by epic. You'll think it's too short when you get done. And please, Dear God, do not compare this to Twilight. It is not in the least like it and if I see a post somewhere that says it is I will come to your blog, facebook or twitter account and rant until you remove the reference. There are no vampires, werewolves or faeries-so far. But, there are meticulously researched and well developed characters with plot lines that intersect and weave through the main plot line which is-you guessed it star crossed lovers.

What is so incredible to me is that each name used is exactly correct for the character's attributes and what family they belong to. Their storyline is so in line with the ancient Greek mythology I'm just awed by the genius of the author. I checked. I looked things up. I wanted to know what the Iliad and the Odyssey were about. You'd think a Lit major would have read them, but somehow, I missed them. I'm not sure I lucked out.

Starcrossed is as complex as any Greek epic, but I think much easier to enjoy. With a large cast of characters and plots and subplots I never got confused. Josephine Angelini took a combination of stories and rewrote them in the present day. And it works, seamlessly and beautifully. And you don't have to have read any of the Greek epics to understand it. You don't even have to remember your Greek mythology because it is well and easily explained.

The setting is Nantucket, a small isolated island, busy in the summer, but not overly populated with year rounders. Helen Hamilton is a year rounder living with her father in a quaint shingle sided whaler with a widow's walk. They have a good relationship, ignoring a few strange things about Helen, and Helen works in his store a few days a week. Helen's mother took off when Helen was a toddler and oddly enough took every photo of herself with her. Helen is drop dead gorgeous, thin, athletic, inhumanly fast and strong and very intelligent but, she hides all of these gifts, preferring to fly under the radar. She doesn't even try in classes, only sometimes doing her work. Even in track she sometimes hides on the course so she doesn't finish first or too fast or she hides in the middle of the pack. Deep down she's afraid of what she is witch, monster, freak, animal?   Helen tells the story to us so we know what she's feeling and thinking, what her greatest fears are. And what hurts her. Sometimes though, we do see things through one of the other character's view points and it's always interesting no matter who it is.

Lucas Delos is Helen's male counterpart. He is drop dead gorgeous, tall, athletic, intelligent, inhumanly fast and strong and bestowed with other talents. But most of all and differently from Helen, he is self assured. He is comfortable in his own skin. He's grown up knowing what he is and it isn't any of the kind of things Helen fears. He's part of a large family that just arrived from Spain. He lives with his parents and sister, aunt, widowed Uncle and his daughter and two sons. And they will all be attending the only high school on Nantucket. They are big news to the island to say the least. They prove to be invaluable to Helen to understanding her ancestry.

With all the references to the Iliad and the Odyssey you must realize that this has something to do with Greek stories. But you cannot imagine. And don't peek at the ending, it won't make sense anyway. I wanted to write an intelligent, clever review because I think Josephine Angelini, again, is a genius. She took all these characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Orestia, one I'd never heard of, and other Greek plays/poems and threw in some, no I mean carefully placed some Shakespeare and Greek mythology (yes that is different from the Iliad and the Odyssey) and set it down gently in a perfectly believable setting.  And it works.  It works so well I can't stop trying to figure out the next book!  I'm reading the Iliad and the Odyssey!  And the Orestia! 

I've read it twice now and I'm ready to read it again because my heart is breaking at the cliffhanger ending and I hate those. But it's more that the characters are hanging on the cliff rather than us because we know something they have yet to figure out. Hopefully they will soon. In the beginning of the next novel. You, the reader, should be able to pick up on it easily.

So, instead of being intelligent and clever, after four tries, this being my fifth, I've settled for gushing. Gushing that I love this novel more than anything I've read ever.  Gushing that Josephine Angelini can bounce ideas off of me any time she wants.  Gushing that any writer that puts this much work into a novel deserves to be read.  But don't read her because she did her homework and I'm the geek that looked it up.  Read it because you love a good story with lots of family and love and stories from the past and cool talents and explanations.  Just read it.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.  It's magic. It's epic. 
Heather in Sandwich
Don't forget about the Starcrossed Blog Tour!  It will be here on my blog on May 26th.  I will be announcing a surprise giveaway and have an interview with Josephine Angelini.  She may give some secrets away!!  At the very least, she's very interesting and has some really good news for us.  I'll be posting my part of Lucas' letter to Helen on that day as well.  So be sure to come back!


  1. Oooh epic! This sounds like something I can sink my teeth into. I love the premise, the starcrossed lovers and drawing from The Iliad & The Odyssey. Definitely going to be reading this one.

  2. Heather, as you know, I'm and EPIC Starcrossed lover, too! It was the first book to make my One-Sit-Read list and will always be a book I will read again and again.
    I Loved your review, it was so well thought out, insightful and entertaining but also very well researched! I can tell you read The Odessey and The Iliad and learned the difference between the Roman vs Greek Gods names and that took a lot of work.
    Knowing you, I'm sure you enjoyed every minute of it!
    As always, another stellar review :o]
    Bravo, Heather, Bravo!!!

  3. Aw, I love your gushing review. :) You're going to hate mine though. I compare it to Twilight (but not in a BAD way). I totally agree with you about wishing the book was longer. When I first looked at it I was scared by the huge page length, but by the end of the book I was practically crying that it wasn't longer! I want more, NOW! :P

  4. YEAH!!! Epic is such a good word to describe this one, I just adored it. It's earned a special place on my "I will re-read this over and over again" shelf:) I agree with everything you said about Lucas and Helen and how seamlessly and beautifully the mythology element is worked in. I completely gushed in my review as well, it's hard not to with this one I think!

  5. O.K. Small I'm comming over! The rest of you, I'm so glad you agree!

    Jenny- It's on my special shelf, too! I don't know if I'm going to kick everyone off the shelf and start all over or just give this one a shelf of it's own, but it's special.

    The Book Faery- Yes I know how much you liked it! We've discussed it at length. Wonder if we're right about the next one?

    Book Sake- It's just great. That's all I can say!

  6. Eep!! Starcrossed sounds AMAZING. I can't wait to read about Lucas. ;) I LOVE Greek myths so I am really looking forward to diving into this one. Thanks for giving me a taste of what to expect. =)

    Thank you for the sweet comment on my blog. =)

  7. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to read this one now! I have this one as an ARC for review, and I was about to start it, but I wasn't quite sure how much I would enjoy it. Greek mythology, amazing powers, family, isolated island! Wow, this sounds like an amazing read that the author put a lot of heart into. I'm going to read this one NOW! Thanks so much for the awesome review!

  8. Oh my God! You are adorable when you gush! I'm hearing your voice like a school girl in my head and its so cute! XD;

    I loved how you raved about this one! Ever since The Goddess Test I've had a hankerin' for some more awesome Greek Mythology. Great review! :D

    Kelsa P.

  9. Oooo, sounds like a great book! :)

    I just had to stop by after reading Kristi The Book Faery's post on blog relationships. :) And now I'm going to be a new follower too! Thank you!


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