We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Friday, 1 July 2011

Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini

When shy, awkward Helen Hamilton meets Lucas Delos for the first time, she thinks two things: the first, that he is the most ridiculously beautiful boy she has ever seen in her life; the second, that she wants to kill him with her bare hands.

An ancient curse means Lucas and Helen are destined to loathe one another. But sometimes love is stronger than hate, and not even the gods themselves can prevent what will happen next...

The fun review

This is the clever synopsis of Starcrossed. It just makes you want to get right into the story and see what exactly is going to happen. It is so very Romeo and Juliet. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I just had to keep reading, and I had to know what is going to happen next. I read till 3 the next morning just because I could not wait to find out what happens next in this amazing book. The last time I felt this compelled to finish a book was when I read Twilight. I will admit, there was a point in this book where I thought “if you strip this bare, then it does bear a lot of similarity with Twilight”; but that thought did not last long. 10 pages later I was thinking “wow, this is so much more than Twilight!” and I will be as bold as to say that when the Saga of Starcrossed is fully released, that this will be bigger than Twilight because it is just so amazing!

After finishing this brilliant book I went to sleep satisfied at knowing that I knew as much of the story that was presently available. But, I was vexed at having to wait till May 2012 for part 2. I had a dream filled sleep dreaming of the delicious Lucas, Hector and Jason and the amazing world that I entered into by reading Starcrossed. When I woke up, all I could think about was Starcrossed and I just had to read it again – which I did – which is not something that I ever really do. I don’t reread immediately after finishing; so that alone should speak volumes about this gem.

If you have ever studied the classics, you will really appreciate this story; the intertextuality is just so clever. The names chosen for the characters have greater meaning than you are aware of if you have never read the classics. However you should not be dissuaded if you are a stranger to the classics – this can serve as a gateway to knowing more of the literature, myths and stories of antiquity.

So why should you go out and get a copy of Starcrossed? Well, this is a great book, amazing actually. It has the Furies, it has romance, it has a great plot, it has suspense, it has demigods, and it has beautiful girls and gorgeous guys. It has all you could ever need; this book will keep you enthralled and satisfied for a long time after reading it. So go out NOW and spoil yourself with Starcrossed!

I would like to thank Pan Macmillan South Africa for sending me a copy of this wonderful book to review. If you have already read this book do tweet the author Josephine Angelini @josieangelini on twitter. She is super cool, and she tweeted back! We had a mini conversation; it is just one of those fan girl moments that mean a lot.

The more academic review

When I first saw the title of this book, I thought of Romeo and Juliet. The prologue of this classic play by the bard – with the words “a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life,” was this the tone of this novel? I did wonder; but then you should never judge a book by its cover. But then I saw the cover with the words “DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER” “THE GODS WILL KEEP THEM APART” and again I thought this sounds a lot like Romeo and Juliet. I cannot say what the author had in mind when she wrote this book.

One of the few things that stuck with me from my Modern Fiction classes is that the author writes with an ideal reader in mind. The ideal reader will have read some of the same literature as the author and will understand the intertextual references, the inner meaning associated with names, and the root of a story. It helps to look at the oeuvre and milieu of the author before saying too much about a text. What do I know about Josephine Angelini? From the book’s information on the author I learn that she studied Classics at NYU. So this makes me look deeper at the story. Shakespeare did not come up with the idea of a story of Starcross’d lovers.

Shakespeare would have studied Ovid. Ovid recorded the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in his epic collection Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe is thus the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet and therefore it is not wrong to say that the premise of Starcrossed is Romeo and Juliet.
So back to what I was saying about the ideal reader- in this instance the ideal reader would have to be someone who is familiar with early Greek literature in the form of Homer’s epics, Hesiod’s Theogony, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, The Oedipus Rex and some other plays. If in this case you are the ideal reader, you will have chosen a book that will not only entertain you, but will excite your brain in matching up the names used in the story with the names and the meaning that was attached to them in antiquity.

For instance:

Helen – Helen of Troy- the face that launched a thousand ships – is legendary for her beauty.

Jason – the myth of the Golden Fleece – Jason and the Argonauts.

Ajax – two Ajax’s were present at the Trojan war – lesser and greater Ajax. Greater Ajax was in competition with Odysseus for Achilles’ shield – when he lost to Odysseus he committed suicide.

Daphne – daughter of Peneus who was loved by Apollo and turned into a laurel tree by her father.

Ariadne – from the myth of the Minotaur.

Cassandra – sister of Hector and Paris – carried away from Troy by Agamemnon; known to be a seer/ oracle.

These names would not be significant to someone not aware of the stories and myths of antiquities and would just seem to be chosen randomly. So this is like an inside joke with the ideal reader. So far the link between the name of the character in the book and that of antiquity is clear – for others the link still has to be established, so that is something more to look forward to when the subsequent books are released.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed it! And I love that you're reading The Iliad!!! <3


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