Title: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Release date: May 31st 2011 by HarperTeen
Age group: Young adult
Grade rate: A
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.
Starcrossed is a story that I've loved for a long time. Not only is it the most intriguing and well-executed take on the defining romance of Greek mythology (that of Paris and Helen of Troy, and the Trojan War that followed) I've ever read, but it's also a hugely entertaining read that makes you smile long after you've finished reading.
Helen's always known she's different, but when she sees the scorchingly hot Lucas Delos for the first time and immediately tries to kill him in front of the whole school, she suddenly realizes there's more to it than just feeling like the odd one out: she's destined to restart an aeons-old conflict that will not only tear apart the gods, but her family and the meaning of her life as she knows it, too. The war almost destroyed the gods and their mortal heroes the first time around, but the Furies love patterns; they're the ancient Greek version of catty cheerleaders and they've scented blood.
Thrust into a dangerous world of Scions, demigods, curses and treachery, Helen faces a decision she always thought she'd know the answer to - but choosing between the love of her life and the survival of the human race may not be entirely hers after all. Everything she does seems to bring the threat of war closer, and no matter how hard she tries to resist loving Lucas, there's a part of her that just can't let him go.
This book may be slow to start, but it's definitely worth the wait. The writing style takes getting used to - it's intense, tightly packed and overwhelms the content from time to time - but if you can get through the first quarter, you'll be totally hooked. Starcrossed is all about story and its plot pulls no punches. There are twists and turns everywhere you look!
The importance of family is a theme that plays a huge role in Starcrossed. From the tight-knit but sometimes lonely existence lived by Helen and her father to the chaotic, clamouring warmth of the extended Delos family, there's a sense that although this book focuses on mythology, if you took that element away, there would still be great characters and dynamic relationships to build the story around. Lucas was my favourite character, but Ariadne comes in at a close second - and not just because we share a similar name! She's the feistiest character and stands out from the crowd. There was no shortage of action and danger in Starcrossed, but sometimes I found myself wishing for even more big family scenes. Josephine Angelini really understands what it means to belong, illustrating beautifully the strength and bonds within the Delos tribe.
If I had to find one fault with the book, it would be that the minor characters are somewhat underdeveloped. Helen's hgih school companions just don't have the depth they need, and they don't hold the readers attention. I really liked Claire, Helen's best friend, but it is true that she probably doesn't have the complexity or realism she deserves.
In short: Starcrossed is a well-written, well-researched story that brilliantly reinvents Greek mythology for a modern young adult audience. It sets a high standard for the contemporary-mythological genre of YA. A book that's been close to my heart since the day I first read it.