Sunday, June 3, 2012

[review] Josephine Angelini - Dreamless (Starcrossed, #2)

Title: Dreamless
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Starcrossed, #2
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format read: ARC
Source: Publisher via Goodreads giveaway
Buy from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookdepository
Summary (via Goodreads):
Can true love be forgotten?

As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling STARCROSSED delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds expectation.
Random paragraph: "The room erupted into several conversations at once. Apparently, Orion was the first Scion ever to inherit two Houses, which made sense once Helen thought about it since the Furies worked so hard to keep the Houses separate. As Helen picked snippets of conversation out of the turmoil, it became clear that there was a prophecy concerning Orion, and it wasn't a good one." (p. 131, ARC edition)

Not as strong as the first book, but a decent follow-up with an intriguing ending. WARNING: SPOILERS FOR STARCROSSED AHEAD.

I'm a complete sucker for anything that involves mythology, so despite the mixed reviews, I really wanted to check out Starcrossed. Well, I entered a giveaway for the sequel and won, and the first book went on sale for $0.99 to celebrate Dreamless's upcoming release -- perfect timing.

In Starcrossed, the immensely talented yet shy Helen finds out that she's a demigod. After nearly killing new classmate Lucas Delos on sight, a chain of events begins: they grow closer to each other, she befriends his family, and learns about her ability to descend into the Underworld. She needs to tame the Furies responsible for setting the Houses of Troy against each other, and resolve the blood debts once and for all to stop the endless cycle of killing. And with immortals paying attention to the small island of Nantucket, she must also go out of her way to protect her human friends.

Fans who've read Starcrossed will know what I'm talking about, so I'll just say it right now: the cousin thing does not get resolved. Sorry, everyone.

I had some issues with the way this book is written -- it felt bloated at times while rushed in others. There's a lot of telling instead of showing, like whenever Helen recounted certain events to her friends; I realize that there are times when dialogue needs to be substituted for prose in order to save on space and move the plot along, but this happened a few too many times and didn't feel natural. It also put me at a distance; I would've liked to see how Helen reacted instead of, "Helen told [character] how ______."

Also, the second dreaded love interest of doom: Orion. He's a nice guy. Helen encounters him in the Underworld, and they help each other navigate this frightening place and fight off monsters. He's a Scion of Aphrodite, which means that he can manipulate people's emotions, and has the ability to manipulate the earth; both of these talents are things that he fears. He and Helen have a lot in common, and after Lucas tries to cut himself out of Helen's life, it's easy to see why she starts gravitating towards Orion.

I REALLY enjoyed Angelini's descriptions of the Underworld. She fuses the typical Greek-inspired setting (Tartarus, Elysian Fields, Fields of Asphodel) with some modern-day inventions; when Helen descends during her sleep, she is sometimes stuck in a house with no exit, a rubbled skyscraper, etc. When the other characters point out that going to the Underworld so often is causing Helen to die, Angelini doesn't hold back with describing how weak she starts becoming -- she stops eating, she gets nosebleeds. It really made me squirm sometimes, so good on the author for getting that across.

The ending? Was pretty awesome. Without going into too much detail (because you should all read it for yourself!), Helen pisses off Ares and some of the minor gods come into town. What they do to Nantucket is just... amazing.

I kinda wish Helen's friends made more of an appearance. Claire was one of my favorite things about Starcrossed, and I dunno, it seems that all the humans are getting paired up with the Delos family and... I don't like that? I enjoyed reading about their humanity, and I really liked that they made a big deal about Helen neglecting them in the first book, so seeing this change kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

However, I did enjoy reading this. And it has a beautiful cover. Despite my few frustrations, I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

Overall: The typical love-triangle formula may put off some readers, but the rest is pretty darn worth it.

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