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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Warning! This book is dangerously engrossing. I started it in the evening, thinking I would just read a few chapters before I went to sleep, and I ended up staying up much later than I intended. (I think the last book I read like that was The Hunger Games...). Helen is a teenager who lives on the island of Nantucket, and she does her best to avoid attention (attracting people's attention actually gives her painful cramps); this is difficult, because she is very tall, quite beautiful, and stronger than a girl her size should be; she is afraid that she might be a freak, but doesn't admit it to herself and does her best to keep others from thinking it. The book begins just as the school year is about to start up again, and the whole island is buzzing with gossip about a new family that has just moved to the island. Helen isn't particularly interested in them, but she has started seeing visions of three bloody women (the Furies, but she doesn't know that), and having strange nightmares that seem a little too real; and the first time she sees some of the Delos boys at school, she launches herself at Lucas with an immediate, irrational hatred and tries to kill him. Eventually, Helen discovers that Lucas and his family are special, and that she is like them--they they call themselves Scions-- and that is really only the beginning of her discoveries. Apparently, the Fates are really into re-runs, and one of their favorites is the Starcrossed Lovers.

Lucas eventually explains to Helen that they are descendents of the demigods of Greek mythology and the Trojan War. The Furies incite members of the four different Houses to an irrational blood lust whenever they are near-- which is what happened the first time Helen saw Lucas. Helen doesn't know anything about her heritage because she was raised by her father - her mother left them when she was very little. Lucas and Helen manage to break the power of the Furies over them by nearly dying and saving each other's lives; and after that, the Deloses start teaching Helen about her heritage and training her to protect herself and use her Talents. The Delos family are a splinter group of the House of Thebes; they moved to Nantucket to get away from the rest of the family, who are trying to kill off all the Scions from the other Houses because they believe that will raise Atlantis and make them immortal. The downside of this, and the reason the Deloses are against it, is that the gods will come down and make war on humanity, which will result in destruction unlike any seen since the Trojan War, the last time the Houses allied together. So, the Deloses are watching over Helen and protecting her from others who are trying to capture or kill her, because they believe she may be the last survivor of any of the other Houses, but they also can't let Helen and Lucas be together, because a union between them would constitute a truce between the Houses and bring about the same war they are trying to avoid.

Eventually, as you might expect, Helen's mother comes back into the picture and we learn more about Helen's heritage, and why her mother left her and hid her on this island (and even cursed her-- to protect her of course).

The teenager and High School aspects of it seemed pretty believable to me; at one point, everyone at school seems to hate Helen, and her best friend explains to her why: all the girls are jealous of her, because two of the gorgeous Delos boys were overheard fighting over her (at the time, they're actually fighting over who will get to kill her), and the rest of the school hates her because the big, athletic Delos boys were kicked off the football team because of that fight. Some of the relationship stuff between Helen and Lucas seemed a bit over the top at times-- misunderstandings, the biggest one caused by Lucas' initial refusal to tell Helen why they can't be together. They are so drawn to each other that they can barely stand to be apart (even when they are fighting or avoiding each other); but I like the fact that, once they figure out they are playing the roles of Helen and Paris, they both agree that the original Helen and Paris were stupid and selfish, and they do their best to keep apart so as not to start another war.

There is an exciting, climactic fight and enough of an ending to make this book satisfying, but at the same time there are plenty of hints for interesting things coming up, including a prophecy that clearly concerns Helen, and also Helen's mother's quest to free the families from the cycle of killing and revenge that they are forced into by the Furies, and freedom for the Outcasts (kin-killers) and Rogues (children of two Houses, like Helen). I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series, and sorry that they aren't available yet.

I first heard about this book thanks to Geeks On, who had Josephine Angelini as a guest on their podcast a couple of months ago.

Author:Josephine Angelini
Date published:2011
Genre:Young Adult Fantasy
Series:first book in a new trilogy
Number of pages:487
Notes:read in less than a day


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