Starcrossed. Angelini, Josephine. 496 p. HarperTeen. 2011. Hardcover $17.99. ISBN 9780062011992.
There's a lot of hype in the publishing world about how Josephine Angelini's debut trilogy was purchased by HarperTeen for seven figures, and believe me, this thoroughly enjoyable book lives up to the hype. It deserves to become the Next Big Thing. I totally LOVED this book. I just wanted to keep reading, and reading, and reading!
The author's agent pitched the manuscript as “Percy Jackson for teenage girls,” and I think that’s a perfect description. Angelini knows her mythology well enough to put her own spin on it while incorporating essential elements of The Iliad. This story isn't a strict retelling, but an inventive "reimagining" in a contemporary setting on Nantucket Island. There's an appealing mix of everyday teen life, romance, action, and fantasy that hits all the right notes.
In a refreshing contrast to so many teen paranormal romances out there, the mysterious supernatural abilities are not the sole domain of the male love interest-- this time, the protagonist is something extraordinary, too! How great is that? Helen is a strong, well-rounded character. Aside from her incredible abilities, she's an everygirl grappling with her own identity. Anyone, especially teen girls, can relate to her.
Angelini has mentioned in various interviews that the other inspiration for this novel besides The Iliad was Romeo and Juliet, so naturally, there's a fantastic forbidden romance element to Helen and Lucas' relationship-- but the stakes are upped in a major way here. It's not that they're a danger to each other, or they're already spoken for... no, the FATE OF THE ENTIRE WORLD depends on the ability of these two teens to restrain themselves. No pressure! I like that the two characters are very intensely drawn to each other but make an honest effort to behave. The relationship between Lucas and Helen is believable, with some great banter between the two. The reader is definitely rooting for these two crazy kids by the time the book ends.
Angelini has created a large cast of unforgettable characters that I became quite attached to throughout the course of the story. I personally couldn't get enough of Lucas' big, tough cousin Hector- a sort of bad boy with a heart of gold. And Helen's feisty, loyal best friend, Claire, has some of the best one-liners in the book. Love her! The adult characters are nicely fleshed-out, too. Lucas' mom and Helen's dad are so endearing.
The storytelling is well-structured and nicely paced, with subtle but effective foreshadowing of important plot elements. The third-person narration allows for multiple points of view, including the antagonist’s. Angelini handles the shift in voice from character to character with finesse, and the portions from the antagonist’s perspective are genuinely chilling.
Don't miss Starcrossed when it hits bookstore shelves on May 31st! ARC for review provided by the publisher via NetGalley. And if you haven't listened yet, be sure to catch our supercool interview with Josephine Angelini at Authors are ROCKSTARS! (Oh, and there's a GIVEAWAY.)