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Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Title: Starcrossed
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Starcrossed, #1
Genres: Retellings, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen (Imprint of HarperCollins)
Date Published: May 31st, 2011
Edition: Hardcover

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.

My Review:

Whenever I have to write a review for a book I didn’t like it’s very hard to find a good balance between pointing out actual issues with the book without turning it into a mindless rant that no one can understand but me (and that makes me look like I’m a total jerk). I will probably fail miserably to do that here so I apologize in advance. That being said, I did not like this book. I actually went into it with, I think, fairly reasonable expectations. I’ve heard good and not-so-good reviews about it so it’s been all over the board as far as that goes. Personally, I thought I would really like it, but at the same time I don’t think my expectations were set too high. In my defense, the description of the book is not very clear at all. What in the world is the book about, you may ask — other than starcrossed lovers, of course?

This, in my opinion, is the first major flaw with the book. As readers we like to go into a book already knowing a little bit based on the description we read off the back cover/inner flap. Perhaps we’ve read some reviews, but the description on the cover should be enough to get us going. We need something going in so we can know if it’s a book we think we’ll like or something we should pass on! I think this is a fair thing to ask for. Go ahead and read the description above and tell me what you think this book is generally about (if you didn’t already know). What kinds of creatures is it about? Is it even really a paranormal book? What kind of world does it take place in? What kinds of problems are these “starcrossed” lovers going to find themselves wrapped up in? We get nothing from the description. So going into this I had literally no clue what this was about until it was finally described to me to a certain extent — after 100 pages into it I might add. For the first 100 pages I was literally clueless as to what was going on. There were people who hated each other from the moment they set eyes on each other but they had never met, I had no clue what kind of superhero/paranormal/whatever creatures we’re dealing with, etc. So the first 100 pages was literally like walking through a thick fog. Mystery can be intriguing, but by a quarter of the way into a book we should have a good understanding for the characters, who they are, and what the hell is going on for the most part. This wasn’t fun mystery, this was throw across the room because it’s stupid mystery (and I use that term loosely).

My second problem with the book is Helen. At times I liked her. But when she finds out all these strange and fantastical things about herself, these people she’s just met, and the world around her, how does she react? Is she a bit taken back and confused, and maybe a little bit freaked out? No. She shrugs it off like this kind of stuff happens every day. She’s thrown absolutely insane revelations about herself and she acts as though someone has just told her about the weather. It was not a reaction any person would have. No one would be that laid back about this stuff in the least. In addition, most of the characters in this book have basically no personality. If the author didn’t tell me who was talking all the time, I would literally be wondering if it was one of 10 people. Everyone talks the same, reacts the same, and is the same. They even all look the same! It’s insanely boring and makes it extremely hard to relate to any one character.

Just to clear up a bit for those who like to know at least a little bit about the books they’re reading before going into them, this book is a retelling of The Illiad by Homer. There, enough said. I haven’t even read The Illiad, but knowing that would have helped me understand things so much more. Why couldn’t they have just said that on the book flap? Why did I have to dig around and find that out in a video interview on Amazon. That information alone can tell you that it’s about Greek Mythology and that it’s probably about Gods/Goddesses or something to that effect. If nothing else, that information can tell you that maybe you’d appreciate this book more if you go out and attempt to read The Illiad first. I sure would’ve liked to do that because I think I might have liked this book much more after understanding the original story.

So normally I will give two stars to books that I dread picking back up each time I have to read them, and of course did not like at all. I gave the extra half star in this case because I think there’s a good possibility that I would’ve enjoyed the story if I had already read The Illiad. As a person who hasn’t though, this book just fell flat. The characters were flat, the story was flat, the world and the relationships were flat — everything really was pretty darn boring. To be fair, I’m not a big fan of mythology stories, so I suppose I should’ve dug around in order to find out that this was not a paranormal story really, but a mythology story. Again, knowledge that would’ve been nice to know going into the book. But overall, you might like this book if you’ve read The Illiad or you’re a big fan of Greek Mythology.  If not, you still might like it. Who knows? I know I didn’t though.

Well, I think this concludes my stupidly long rant. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we have much more to say about books we don’t like than books we do? Obviously I’m not a fan of the book. I think the idea probably had potential, but it wasn’t executed very well. I will probably not be reading on in this series, which is rare for me too because I usually give a series at least two books before I decide that, but I can’t imagine wanting to sit through another book like this willingly. Who knows though, there’s still a whole year before the next one comes out and I tend to get caught up in lots of hype so if there’s lots of talk about the book I might give in and read it anyways. There’s definitely more story to tell after this one ended, lots of things were left unsaid and there’s definitely still more big stuff that’s going to happen. But, since I’m being brutally honest, I find myself not really caring too much what happens next.

2.5 Hearts
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9 Responses to Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

  1. Jessica@a GREAT read says:

    Bummer that you didn't like it! I have this in my TBR pile and was aware that it's a sort of Greek Mythology retelling, which was why I picked it up. I read the Illiad years ago in high school and have a decent recollection of the story. So hoping that it will meet my expectations at least!

    Good honest review though! I liked how you summed it up to not just being your kind of book without totally bashing it! It can be insanely hard to write a sort of negative review! But you did good!

    • Thanks Jessica! Yes, it can definitely be hard to write a bad review. It's one of those things that I know I need to do in order to help with the credibility of my other reviews though. I don't want people thinking I like every book I pick up or that I fluff up reviews, ya know? Still, I feel bad when I have to do so.
      My recent post Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

  2. Angel says:

    I've read the Iliad every year since I was ten, but I hated this book. I agree with what you said about it being one big foggy mystery for the first 100 pages and I actually did throw the book across the room at one point. The Twilight parallels were astounding.
    My recent post [review] Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins

    • Good to know your opinion since your perspective is different being that you've read the Iliad. Thanks!

      And yes, I definitely noticed the Twilight parallels as well. I actually almost said something about that, but I truly hate it when review after review compares to those books. However, with this book there were definitely a lot of similarities for sure!
      My recent post Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

  3. justayagirl says:

    As one of those who liked this book, I have to say that appreciate your review. Why? Because you were honest as to why you didn't like it. Your rant wasn't really a rant at all. I know how hard that can be. LOL.
    My recent post Update: Super Cool News, My Crazy Life, and- oh yeah- HIATUS IS OVER!

  4. Missie says:

    Ha! Thanks for this review, Sarah. I like ranting too, even though I know no one will understand what the heck I'm saying.

    So, a retelling of The Illiad by Homer? I have to admit, totally wasn't expecting that. You're right, the book does give off the wrong impression or at least not a very clear one. And really, it's hard to imagine that a character would take such changes so lightly.

    Totally gonna avoid this one for now.

  5. StuckInBooks says:

    I'm so sorry you didn't like this book. I loved it. It's one of my current favorites.

    I can understand that balance issue with books you don't care for. It's hard to express your opinion without bashing. It's the hard part about blogging.


  6. Asher Knight says:

    Oh, we agree on so many points. Though, I did end up liking this more than you did…
    My recent post Review: Awakened by P.C & Kristin Cast *no spoilers*

  7. Oh wow. Thank you for your honest review! I've heard such good things about this one but this makes me go hmmm…..
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday (20)

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