Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Some books are cover buys. Some are BookTube Made Me! buys. And some are blurb buys. This one was definitely the latter!

Starcrossed-Josephine-AngeliniWhen shy, awkward Helen Hamilton sees Lucas Delos for the first time she thinks two things: the first, that he is the most ridiculously beautiful boy she has seen in her life; the second, that she wants to kill him with her bare hands. With an ancient curse making them loathe one another, Lucas and Helen have to keep their distance. But sometimes love is stronger than hate, and not even the gods themselves can prevent what will happen . . .

Helen and Lucas appear fated to repeat what was once mere mythology but is revealed to be a very real shared history. After the Trojan War, the key players were split into four Houses and kept apart by the presence of three wailing Furies who make them want to kill members of another House the moment they set eyes on them.

For me romance in YA can usually be separated into two categories: 1) love at first sight 2) Instant attraction followed by a misunderstanding. The fact that the heroin in Starcrossed wants to kill the hero, and vice versa, sold me on it immediately. I only wish that aspect of it would have lasted a little longer before the pair found a loop-hole that pretty much flipped the switch from interesting to insta-love.

We’ve see the shy, beautiful heroin oblivious to her looks so many times before and the fact that Helen is literally THE most beautiful woman, having inherited the face that launched a thousand ships – that of Helen of Troy – made Starcrossed feel a bit wish-fulfillment-ey. The Delos family reminded me very much of the Cullens in Twilight, although I did find the dynamics of the Deloses to be more interesting. Unfortunately Lucas was not as charismatic as I’d hoped (I actually preferred Hector) and some of his behavior towards Helen really annoyed me. (No wonder she felt misled!)

Other than Helen, my favourite character was probably her mortal best friend, Claire. But there did seem to be more characters than necessary. Will, for example, was completely superfluous until the demigods needed someone trustworthy to divert suspicion when they caused a ruckus. This imbalance could well iron out in the wash of future books though so I’m not going to judge Starcrossed on that.

For all it’s recycled elements, the world Josephine Angelini has created is well fleshed-out and complex with clever details that struck me as pretty unique. As a member of the House of Thebes, and a child of Apollo, God of Light, Lucas is able to manipulate light, even “blurring his edges” when he is anxious. I also love that Helen is stronger than Lucas – stronger than anyone – and yet lacks the fighting instincts that would have the training in this book transform her into an unrealistic, instant badass. I’ve seen that kind of paint by numbers creation montage before and I don’t rate it. Helen is powerful but vulnerable too. And she suffers in a very real way as she doubts her sanity by day and spends her nights trekking across a dessert in dreams that leave her feet dirty or bleeding and her lips parched by morning.

There were some great scenes in Starcrossed, including the one where Helen first sees Lucas in the corridors at school and promptly attacks him.

“Cassandra! Stay where you are,” Lucas called over Helen’s shoulder, his face no more than an inch away from hers. “She’s very strong.”

Helen’s arms burned and the little bones in her wrists felt like they were grinding together. Lucas was holding her by the wrists to keep her hands away from his neck, she realized. They were locked in a stalemate, and if she could get her fingers half an inch closer, she could reach his throat.

And then what? a little voice in her head asked. Choke the life out of him! answered another.

All in all, Starcrossed is definitely worth a read and I’m excited for the rest. The romance between the main characters is tangible and sweet and I very much want them to be together – especially if it means thwarting fate. As with City of Bones, the author switched the POV quite abruptly after the reader is fairly settled into what seems predominantly to be a third person limited narrative from Helen’s perspective. I think I’m just going to have to be more forgiving about it as it seems to be an increasingly popular technique in YA. (It still feels like cheating though!)

Hank Rating 3.5 Stars

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