Book Review: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
I am deep in the midst of Cybils reading at the moment. It is a glorious time full of Young Adult Speculative Fiction. Today’s read: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Tagline: Family is forever. Especially when they’re immortal.
Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up. She is the mortal child of Egyptian Gods. She has definitely gotten the short end of the stick and has a chip – no a 2 by 4 – on her shoulder about the deal. So when her mother, Osiris, starts having foreboding dreams, Isadora takes the chance to flee and moves to live with her brother in San Diego. Here she begins to make friends, one of whom wants to be more than friends, which she is definitely not open to; What’s the point of falling in love when you know that everything will one day end? And what happens if her mother’s dreams follow her? But most importantly, what if everything she thought she knew about her family is wrong?
This book was a mixed bag for me. I think this is a really fun, well-written contemporary romance/coming of age story forcibly sandwiched into a speculative fiction package that felt unnecessary and at times distracting. So for the contemporary romance portion I give it a strong 4 stars, and overall I give it 3. And on the quotability meter I give it a 4.5, it had a lot of great, insightful quotes that I thought captured truth. In fact, the romance and character dialogue made this book soar for me.
Isadora is a strong, well-written character. I loved her spark, the way she spoke, and the depth of her thought processes. I loved her interactions with Ry (more about him in a moment). And I loved the way he gently and patiently helped her understand that you could be strong, independent and fierce and still open yourself up to love.
And Ry, he was a pretty interesting character too. He starts out as a friend, and as his feelings grow he has to dance the age old dance of “just friends” when one of those friends wants something more. Plus, he gets perhaps the best line of the book when he points out to Isadora that girls don’t need a guy to be whole, because you actually have to be whole in order to be in a healthy relationship; Wholeness proceeds relationship and is not a product of being in a relationship.
And I loved, loved, loved that Isadora got to have a healthy female relationship with the equally sassy Tyler, who is in her own healthy relationship with the adorkable Scott. There is, in fact, a lot of good relationship stuff happening here. Even Isadora’s brother Sirius and his wife bring some spark to the party.
Except, of course, for the family relationships – more specifically the mother/daughter relationship. That is seriously all twisty. And a huge motivating factor for Isadora and why she chooses to be closed off. It is definitely interesting to see Isadora wrestle with her feelings and perceptions and slowly come to understand that a lot of what she thought may, in fact, have been wrong.
In the end, I recommend this book for its compelling look at relationships, strong characterizations and snappy dialogue. Readers will have to be patient with the set up at the beginning, because the real story starts once Isadora gets to San Diego. And I felt the Egyptian mythology openings of each chapter kind of disrupted the pacing and flow of the parts that snapped and sizzled, it was distracting. Definitely get this in the hands of your readers looking for some fun romance, though it is definitely more than that with its exploration of family life and how it can define us and we can take back that power and reshape our image of self.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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