This year, I discovered literary agent Maria Vicente’s blog and her Literary Merit Badge challenge, and I’ve decided to give it a go. The idea is to collect badges by reading a variety of genres, categories, and even different types of “texts” to appreciate the many forms storytelling can take.

meritbadgeYAMy second badge is YOUNG ADULT, and for that I read Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. From Goodreads:

starcrossed“Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood…and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.”

I really, really enjoyed this book. There are critiques I could make about the writing (there was a lot of telling and some fuzzy head-hopping), and there were some annoying structural parallels to Twilight in the beginning (shy, unassuming girl gets dragged into the center of a super-powered family, has romance with beautiful boy who must resist touching her).

Those aside, though, the story is engrossing. I loved the way Greek mythology was threaded through everything; it made me want to pull out Hamilton’s Mythology and read through everything again (also oh my god, I just realized, what if she named Helen after Edith Hamilton?! Brilliant!). Helen felt like a very real heroine, one who despite being freakishly strong is also fundamentally peaceful, and I really liked that juxtaposition. Angelini juggles a large cast of characters well, and the pacing! This is a long book, nearly five hundred pages, but the ups and downs are masterfully crafted, and plot action is balanced well with family and romantic drama.

And speaking of romantic drama–if you’ve read about my editing loves over on the B&BD blog, you know that Lucas and Helen’s forbidden, hands-off romance is right. up. my. alley. On a more serious note, this book is also very frank about teenage sexual desire in a really nice, non-judgmental way, and I appreciated it very much. In fact, the line “We’re talking about you and Lucas and the importance of condoms” had me laughing out loud for at least a minute, which is a very long time to be laughing out loud.

I’m late to the party on this book, since it was published almost three years ago, but better late than never! I liked it a lot, and I recommend it highly.

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