Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc.
STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini is gearing up to do for mythology what TWILIGHT did for vampires and THE HUNGER GAMES is currently doing for Dystopian fiction. Yes, the PERCY JACKSON books started this booming trend, but the middle-grade series only goes so far. STARCROSSED will be the first major mythological series for teens posed to cross barriers and pull readers into an epic love story that transcends all barriers. I can see fangirls drooling over this novel and eating it up. There will be a fierce following.
That said, I personally feel that in this aspect, STARCROSSED almost tries too hard. It wants so badly to be embraced by the teens that it falls back on tropes made famous by authors such as Stephenie Meyer and Cassandra Clare. For example, main love interest Lucas has a big, sprawling family with a dangerous, not-quite-human secret. Upon finding out about main character Helen, he starts alternating nights watching out for her atop her roof with his family members to “protect” her. Once the family members get over the rivalry they initially feel toward one another, everybody loves everyone else, one big, happy family. Helen loves getting sucked into their family—she’s an only child who grew up with her father. She finds herself falling for Lucas, but they can’t be together due to the fact that they’re both Scions (descendents of Greek Gods) from opposing houses; if they ever get together, a war even more devastating than the Trojan War will occur. Lucas is much more able to control his urges than the beautiful Helen, of course, and can be incredibly possessive of Helen despite the fact that they don’t have an “official relationship.” Oh, and did I mention that Lucas has a sister who can foresee the future? I don’t know, a lot of these elements feel very TWILIGHT to me, completely with a Cassandra Clare twist later on (which I may be wrong about; I’ve never read Clare’s books, just heard about them). There are more similarities as well, but I won’t get into those here. Especially since I’ve only read TWILIGHT once (and haven’t seen the movies) and might be wrong in my memories.
Overlooking such aspects, the novel is full of mythology and new ideas. While some of the mythological elements are warped and different from the original tales being “re-told,” Angelini is able to do it in a way that adds her own signature twist. After all, things would be boring if they play out exactly as expected. While some of these elements do, at times, contradict one another, such inconsistencies are easy to overlook due to the fast-paced story being told. Helen, who has a face to rival Helen of Troy, whose face launched a thousand trips, doesn’t even realize the extent of her beauty. Angelini handles this in a way that feels natural; no one will be rolling their eyes over the fact that this girl thinks she’s “plain” or “average” while the world falls at her sleep. Unlike the authors who use this technique in today’s YA novels, it isn’t that Helen doesn’t innately realize how beautiful she is: It’s simply that she doesn’t care. She hates having people stare at her and is painfully shy to the extent that she gets severe stomach cramps whenever she’s the center of attention.
When she first meets Lucas, she feels an overwhelming sense of hate, but doesn’t understand why. She has no clue that she’s descended from the gods and has special abilities. She doesn’t understand why the Three Furies start calling for blood to be spilled whenever she’s around gorgeous Lucas or his family. Upon accidentally saving one another and ceasing the blood feud, the two are soon able to come in contact with one another (and their families) without repercussion. This is where the story takes off, especially as Helen learns the truth about her heritage and the curse laid upon her shoulders.
There’s a prophecy toward the end of the book that really lends a Greek feel to the novel and sets the way for the next book, as well as a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting to know what happens yet. The story is gripping enough that it’s easy to overlook inconsistencies in grammar and sentence structure (which will hopefully be tighter upon the book’s official release in hardback) as well as similarities to other novels in the genre. STARCROSSED is posed to be the next big thing in teen fiction, and I can absolutely see it becoming a runaway bestseller right out the gate. This book will resonate best with readers who love a good star-crossed romance and the sprinkling of mythological elements, though it might annoy a reader who knows mythology like the back of his/her hand and doesn’t like when the book deviates from the tales.
I love the essence of this cover. It’s sweeping and romantic. I love the cover model’s flowing dress and the way it billows out. The dark sky filled with storm clouds and the choppy water, along with the novel’s title, STARCROSSED, hints at unease. Sadly, this isn’t a scene that occurs in the book, but it lets me imagine so much and creates an atmosphere for the series. This cover is the first thing that ever made me want to pick up this book—and then I heard it was Greek mythology and was lost. Now you know how to win me over. :)
[STARCROSSED launches on May 31, 2011 at a bookstore near you!]
[This review is based on an e-ARC version of STARCROSSED courtesy of netGalley.]
[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]