Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review | Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini
Starcrossed #2
Published May 2012 by HarperTeen
YA mythological romance
Borrowed from the library
2.5 stars

Bite-Sized Review
Dreamless was one part angst, one part blah, and one part engaging. Overall I'd say it was sort of a wash; great for fans of All The YA, not recommended for people who are tired of all the same old, same old. I'm not sorry I read it, but I was underwhelmed.

King-Sized Review
I read Starcrossed about a year and a half ago, and it turns out I don't remember it very well. I remember that I enjoyed it (okay, my review indicates that I enjoyed it), and that's about it. So unfortunately, I can't explain to you what I was thinking at the time, but having just finished Dreamless, I really don't think Starcrossed would have been much better. Just goes to show you, tastes evolve, even in a year or so.

Anyway, Dreamless. It starts shortly after Starcrossed left off, with the impossibly perfect Helen trying to find the Furies in the Underworld in order to relieve the demigod Scions of the curse that induces members of different Houses to try to kill one another. Of course, this task is more difficult than it seems, and there are always people trying to interfere.

I will say that I like the world here. I'm a huge mythology fan, and the idea of having the gods trapped on Olympus is an interesting one. The Scions and the way they repeat the stories of previous demigods also make for a good story. Some of their abilities get a little far into the "Mary Sue" realm, but sometimes there are actually proportionate drawbacks that go with them, as in Cassandra's case.

However, as far as Mary Sues go, Helen is the kind of example that would make Laurel K. Hamilton roll her eyes. She is absolutely, stunningly beautiful, has a necklace that makes her impervious to harm, can hit people with bolts of lightning, is the only person in the known universe who can descend to the Underworld on her own, and freaking flies. Yes, Helen faces challenges, but at the same time, how many supernatural abilities can one person have? We all know the great powers=great responsibilities quote from Spiderman, but what people often forget that's crucial to keep fantasy from seeming ridiculous is that great power also has to come with some serious limitations or suspension of disbelief gets...suspended.

Granted, this isn't a problem unique to Dreamless, and wouldn't be quite as bad if Helen weren't so annoying. She is never, ever happy. Her perspective drips with melancholic melodrama, mostly about her former boyfriend whom she now believes is her cousin, Lucas. And in Dreamless, we are "rewarded" with the addition of yet another potential love interest, Orion, the Scion of another House. I am personally opposed to love triangles in 99 percent of all cases, so this was not a welcome development.

Nor was Lucas's inexplicable decision to make Helen hate him so they could stay apart. Why is it that YA love interests do this? Do they really think their girlfriends are too stupid or emotional to understand why they can't be together if they just explain it? Sure, it's obvious to me as the reader that Helen and Lucas are going to end up not being related, but of course there's no way for them to know that. Still, I have no clue why Lucas felt the need to push Helen away like that. This is another frustrating trend in YA novels.

Like I said, there were some engaging parts. Basically, the bits where there was real action were interesting, so that was a plus. Overall, I'd say if YA is your thing, you'll enjoy this book, but if the thought of reading about another love triangle-cum-sudden discovery of consanguinuity makes you gag, look for something else.

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