Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars
By Kiersten White
Published 2013 by HarperTeen

Isadora knows all families have their issues, but she's pretty sure that hers takes the cake. After all, it isn't easy being the mortal daughter of Egyptian gods. Desperate to forge her own destiny, she leaves Egypt behind and begins a life with her brother in San Diego. But when a very charming and handsome boy tests her conviction to never fall in love and her strange dreams foretell danger, is Isadora's dream to escape her family all for nothing?

I really enjoy fantasy novels and I really enjoy books inspired by mythology (or really, books inspired by any other stories, like fairy tales and folk tales as well) so it was a no-brainer for me to request the egalley of this title. Additionally, White's earlier novel Paranormalcy was on the Lone Star Reading List when I first moved to Texas so I'd heard of her work and wanted to check it out. Of course, as is typical of me, I read her newest work before finding the time to go back and read the stuff I'd actually heard of, but c'est la vie.

I really liked the structure of this story, though it was a bit jarring when it changed slightly partway through the novel. Each chapter starts out with a short story or bit of story about the various gods and goddesses that make up Isadora's family. In between the chapters are other short episodes, scenes from earlier in Isadora's life. These in-between episodes stop partway through the book and, as I said, I found that a bit jarring, as I was enjoying seeing these flashes of her childhood. I do, however, understand why they stop. I liked this structure because it provided a really interesting way to learn about Isadora and her family - the stories told at the beginning of each chapter are in Isadora's voice, so readers are really able to get a sense of how she feels about her messed-up family. I also really liked that this book brought the ancient gods into contemporary times. It's certainly not the first book to do so, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked seeing them through Isadora's eyes, which really allowed you to think about how messed up myths can be.

I think Isadora is a fun character and she will be easy for teens to relate to. Though most teens don't have to worry about being the mortal child of gods, at the root, family problems are family problems. We all have families and we all have to figure out how to live with them. I liked Isadora because she wants to try and she wants to be a part of her family but it just isn't easy. Additionally, she is pretty self-assured and smart and I felt like I would want to hang out with her. As much as I liked her, she does have her moments - moments where she is a bit too selfish, a bit too narrow-minded, a bit too melodramatic. Overall, though, I liked her.

The book reads pretty quickly as well. The chapters are not terribly long and the action keeps a good pace throughout. The writing is not really anything special, but it serves its purpose here and works well (I feel like that sounds harsh, but I just mean I'm not gushing about the beautiful prose and that's okay for this book). While I spotted one of the twists very early on (and kept shaking my head at Isadora for not noticing it, too), I didn't spot the other, even though I really should have. Overall, this book was a quick and fun read that I'd recommend to teens looking for more mythology-inspired tales.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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