When I first started reading books by Josephine Angelini, I couldn't help seeing a lot of comments saying, "This sucks. Go and read Starcrossed instead." Or "I loved Starcrossed, but this book is just terrible!"
Well, here I am, reading Starcrossed at last, and I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's not that great. It manages not to be completely terrible, thankfully, but the characters are really flat and the plot is full of holes. We're cursed with an overpowered female protagonist surrounded by a plethora of semi-decent characters which manage to keep me reading, but most of the reading is rather painful.
The plot itself is an interesting premise that I haven't seen before. If you like Greek mythology, then you'll find a lot of references to the Trojan war, and Aphrodite and Apollo and what-not which will be a pleasant surprise to find in the YA genre.
Oh, except for the fact that all of these high-school characters are demigods who are direct descendants of the Greek gods (which apparently are real, the Trojan war REALLY HAPPENED guys, you wouldn't believe), and they all have superpowers.
Did you get all that? Okay, that was the simple part.
The not-so-simple part is that there are all these families which are forced to hate each other and kill each other by these Furies, due to being descended from different sides of the original Trojan war...or something...and there's a reason why the protag is called Helen, and her love interest's dad is called Pallas, and there's actually another characters called frickin' Hector and there's a dead guy called Ajax...
Look, I'm not even going to explain how many plot holes are shredding this story apart here. It really speaks for itself. Let's get into the meat of the book.
Our protagonist is Helen. She doesn't know it, but she's a demigod from one of these Houses, but her mother left her dad years and years ago and left them in the shitter. She whines about it, complains about her life, has a bunch of friends at school that I didn't really give a monkey's ass about, and has practically no flaws whatsoever.
Oh, and later on she can fly and fire lightning from her fingertips. Go figure. Go fucking figure.
The term "Mary Sue" gets brought up a lot in the YA fandom. Personally, I think it's overused. It feels like a lot of female reviewers just holler "SHE'S A MARY SUE, BOOK SUCKS, KTHANXBAI" as soon as they discover that there's a strong female protagonist who annoys them in some insignificant fashion. It's stupid, really. Just making a big deal out of nothing.
But Helen? Okay, I'm afraid I have to say that she's ridiculously overpowered and doesn't really seem to struggle with everything. Also - in the first half of this book, she is immune to all bladed weapons. You could stab her with a sword and it would bounce right off her skin. (There's a reason for this, but it just seems so superficial at the time.)
I haven't even started on the Delos family yet, the other main characters in this book. Actually, they're all fairly decent. Fairly decent demigods that is, with superhuman powers.
The love interest, Lucas, is an interesting character. To begin with, he and Helen hate each other - because they're from different Houses - and the book is pretty hard to read for a good dozen chapters. It's just about them hating each other for no reason. Thankfully, this soon changes and they start falling for each other.
But they can't fall for each other, because as soon as they have sex then it will start off the whole Trojan war again or something. It sounds so ridiculous in concept.
Oh, and Lucas' special power? He can always tell when someone is lying to him. Early on in his relationship with Helen, he forces her to tell him how he really feels because otherwise it makes him feel uncomfortable that he can tell she told a lie. Even if it's a harmless lie. I don't know, this just didn't sit right with me.
Not to mention that HE lies to her occasionally. Doesn't stop him.
There's a load of other villains called Tantalus and Creon, many of which are extremely generic. Yeah, that's really their names.
Overall, the book was a mixed bag to me. It's ridiculous and tries to take itself too seriously, but there is some cool magic stuff going on. I guess. Most of the non-magical characters get the short end of the stick really.
It's a trilogy, too. I'm not really interested in reading the rest. I don't care about Helen and Lucas' relationship, especially since Helen isn't the best-written character in the world. Really, I preferred the other books by this author.