Friday, August 15, 2014

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Goodreads Description: "Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy, is back with The Chaos of Stars—an enchanting novel set in Egypt and San Diego that captures the magic of first love and the eternally complicated truth about family.

Isadora's family is seriously screwed up—which comes with the territory when you're the human daughter of the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. Isadora is tired of living with crazy relatives who think she's only worthy of a passing glance—so when she gets the chance to move to California with her brother, she jumps on it. But her new life comes with plenty of its own dramatic—and dangerous—complications . . . and Isadora quickly learns there's no such thing as a clean break from family.

Blending Ally Carter's humor and the romance of Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, The Chaos of Stars takes readers on an unforgettable journey halfway across the world and back, and proves there's no place like home."

My Review: This is not the cover section but I have to start off by talking about the cover because how beautiful is it?! It's gorgeous and the name of the book is pretty intriguing as well. So naturally I gravitated towards this and when I realized it was about Egyptian mythology, I was sold. I love mythology and I love modern-day books (whether YA or adult) that weave mythology into the narrative. It's one of the reasons that the Percy Jackson series will always be one of my favorite book series ever, no matter how old I get. So I assumed this book would be pretty good.

And I was right. It was pretty good. I really liked it. It doesn't take a lot for me to like a book but at the same time, there are certain things in books that can absolutely ruin the whole reading experience for me (like insta-love) and unfortunately, these things happen pretty often in a lot of books. So more often than not, I'm left feeling a bit disappointed, especially when it comes to YA. But The Chaos of Stars didn't really let me down in any way and I found it quite fun, actually.

I was surprised to see that the majority of the reviews online for this book were negative. It kind of seemed like a big problem a lot of people had was with the main character, Isadora. People thought she was bitchy, whiny, aggressive, obnoxious, etc. I admit: Isadora was aggressive and a bit of a character. Not exactly the sweetest, nicest person you'd ever meet. But I really liked that about her. I think I've always gravitated towards the slightly-meaner characters in media---perhaps because I'm kind of sharp myself---such as the Blair Waldorfs and the Astrid Kriegers. Sure, she acted bratty and obnoxious at times, and she was also sort of dense at times (she claimed multiple times that her family didn't love her because they refused to make her immortal...when it was quite clear to us, the readers, why her parents not making her immortal actually proved how much they loved her; immortality isn't actually all that great, when you think about it). But I liked that because guess what? Real teenagers are going to be bratty and rude and have their ungrateful moments. There's no denying this. There are probably very few perfect people in the world who never had bratty, obnoxious, or ungrateful moments growing up. I liked Isadora a lot. She was sharp, didn't take nonsense from anyone, and was full of attitude. She was a breath of fresh air compared to all these typical YA heroines who are the nice girls-next-door and literally never show anyone any attitude (except in their own internal narrative). 

I also really liked how Isadora loved interior decorating. Maybe it's just because I personally love interior decorating (HGTV is my guilty pleasure and I love buying furniture and decorations for my home) but I thought it was a really fun aspect of her personality that was kind of different. Normally YA heroines like reading or writing or even fashion---which are all things I like as well but are also kind of typical to teenage girls. Liking interior design/decorating isn't something that's so common. 

Also, I just really liked how she wasn't interested in relationships or guys. She wasn't super into the whole cheesy flowers-and-hand-holding romance stuff. It was obvious that she wanted to connect with someone but she didn't need a Hallmark romance moment to make it real, which I found nice because I kind of feel nauseous when I think about stereotypical "romantic" moves and moments in books and movies. They seem cute on the page or screen...but when you really think about it... No. I'd probably just start laughing. They just seem to awkward. She was kind of like that too---she didn't need roses and poems. She'd probably have laughed if some guy tried that on her. So her relationship with Ry was nice because it was actually pretty slow (I have no idea why some people are claiming it was insta-love...) and normal. She didn't seem like she was pressured to do anything she didn't want to. And Ry seemed nice too, very gentle and not too arrogant or in-your-face. 

The mythology was woven in with the side plot of Isadora working at a local museum in San Francisco and I really liked how Kiersten White wove it in. I was kind of wondering how it would happen---since people obviously don't worship these gods anymore---but she managed to integrate them into the story pretty realistically. The gods live pretty low-key lives these days, hiding in solitude in human cities, basically clinging to any last humans who still worship them (I assume worship is needed to keep a god alive, so they don't fade into dust). Very low-brow and not too grand or obnoxious. No obvious magic or anything, a la Percy Jackson. It worked for Percy Jackson but it wouldn't have worked here so I'm glad Kiersten White didn't even try. We just had some charms and subtle potions and prayers and they seemed very natural to the story. 

The actual plot of the book was pretty low-key and simple as well. Isadora volunteers at the local museum, she works to set up displays, she has bad dreams and is experiencing a bit of creepiness because someone is breaking into her house and stalking her, it seems. This aspect of the book took a backseat to the relationship plots and I kind of wish Kiersten White had focused on the museum/mystery plot a little more because it was interesting. But I still think it was pretty well-done. And lastly, I loved reading about Isadora's relationship with her mom---how bitter it was before, how much miscommunication they had, and how it was at the end. Mother-daughter relationships aren't always perfect and they've always been an area of interest for me, so I love whenever a book has that element. I thought it was quite nicely done here, regarding their miscommunication and misunderstandings. 

All in all, I liked it. A lot of people hated it but... *shrug* Who knows? I thought it was a fun, neat little book with a snarky heroine and a nice mix of mythology, relationship issues, and actual plot. And I'm hoping Kiersten White writes a sequel!

Cover: IT'S SO PRETTY. I'm so glad it doesn't have some girl in a flowing ball gown on the cover---that's been done to death and I hate it (unless it actually makes sense in regards to the plot). The dappled blue colors of the night sky, the golden curling leaves and vines, the twinkling stars in the background... It's amazing. It's a work of art. I'd buy this book just for the cover, to be honest.

Grade: A-

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