Sunday, October 27, 2013

Family and Futures: The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Harper Teen, 2013

*ARC won from author in a giveaway - thank you so much, Kiersten!*

I love it when I read books that don't remind me of anything else I've ever read, even of other books by the same author. Nothing could be truer of my experience reading The Chaos of Stars - while I read her first book Paranormalcy and given the premise of this story I felt some Percy Jackson-esque flavors, this novel did a lot of things right in my mind and stands apart from other books I've read lately.

Isadora is the daughter of two ancient Egyptian gods and is convinced her parents don't actually care about her. If they really did, why won't they make her immortal instead of being totally content with letting her die someday? Then when her mom, Isis, gets pregnant, it feels like Isadora is officially being replaced, not good enough, unwanted. Timing couldn't be better that Isis has dreams that Isadora is somehow in danger and decides to send the 16 year old to San Diego to stay with her brother. Isadora is determined to soak in as much as possible about the modern world and leave her ancient, crazy family behind, but if if Isadora can't learn to embrace her heritage and family, she might not have a future.

There have been some mixed reviews on this book so far, but personally I really thought it was fantastic. I wasn't so sure about the structure of the story, snippets of mythology, and Isadora's occasional dreams at first, but it grew on me a bit with time. White does a fantastic job of having a protagonist who isn't necessarily terribly likable (at least at the beginning). Contrary to popular belief, a story can still be great even if the protagonist is a bit of a jerk, or in Isadora's case, a little closed-minded. She's so consumed by being angry at her parents, especially her mom, that she hardly leaves room for anything else. But in time, she does grow, and I particularly enjoyed how Sirius, Isadora's older brother whom she is staying with, serves as an example of how relationships are what you make of them and it's a matter of perspective. Isadora has a bit of an edge to her, she resists attachments and love, but her walls come down as she grows. The supporting cast and the friends she makes provided some comic relief and cause for hope. I loved the character of Ry and how his own particular story surprised me, and he was a great match for Isadora's personality.

In an interview she did with another author I love, Stephanie Perkins, White said that this book actually says a lot about her relationship with God and I think that going into this book knowing that actually made me like it more. This whole novel can be seen as a beautiful allegory if you so choose, or you can take it as it is on the surface as a tale of teens and their parents. Either way, if you stick with this story and give it an honest chance with an open mind, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what's in store.

Thanks again so much to Kiersten for sending this ARC my way, and thanks for a beautiful story that truly pulled at my heartstrings.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Kiersten White's Website
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