Dreamless (Starcrossed Book #2) by Josephine Angelini
Published by HarperTeen
on May 29, 2012
Source: e-Galley from the publisher via Edelweiss.
Series report: This book dives right in with a minimal amount of recap. You might want to refresh your memory about Starcrossed.
Sorry, this is going to be a bit long, but I have labeled each part so that you can read what interests you.
First, some non-spoilery thoughts on Starcrossed, plus a brief recap:
If you read a lot of YA, there are aspects of Starcrossed that may feel a bit BTDT. Helen, our heroine, is a self-conscious, awkward girl who doesn't realize that she's drop-dead beautiful. Lucas, also gorgeous beyond belief, suddenly shows up at Helen's school. He's part of a close-knit, mysterious family and seems to detest Helen on sight.
Helen, who is blessed with superhuman strength and plagued by nightmares, learns that the reason she's always felt different is that she is a scion, or demigod. So is Lucas. Each scion is a member of a different House, founded by a different Greek god. There are four Houses: Atreus (founded by Zeus), Thebes (Apollo), Athens (Poseidon) and Rome (Aphrodite.)
Since the end of the Trojan War, Zeus dictated that the four Houses could not unite. Thus, members of different Houses feel compelled to hate, even kill one another. (Imagine a kind of demigod gang warfare.) But when Helen and Lucas save each other's lives, this breaks the cycle of hatred between the two of them and they fall madly in love. Great, right? Nuh-uh. They can't act on these feelings, because that would unite Lucas' House of Thebes with Helen's House of Atreus, which is prohibited.
At this point in the story, Helen and Lucas are given another reason they can't be together -- a reason that the reader learns is a lie. This infuriated some readers of Starcrossed, but hey, this is book is part of a series. If the couple gets together right away, the romantic tension fizzles rather than sizzles.
I really enjoyed Starcrossed. I found Helen an endearing character, and also loved her best friend Claire "Giggles" Aoki. The story also had laugh-out-loud moments that came out of nowhere, and touching moments as well. I'm also a huge mythology nerd, so I was curious to see what the future held for Helen and Lucas and the rest of the gang in ...
Toward the end of Starcrossed, Helen learns that she is the Descender, the only demigod who can locate the Furies in the Underworld and get them to free the scions from their cycle of hatred and vengeance. Cruelly separated from Lucas by the Big Fat Lie (see above), Helen spends every night roaming the Underworld, trying to find the Furies. This work is hard, lonely and exhausting, but the knowledge that all the scions are counting on Helen keeps her going.
One night in the Underworld, she is shocked to find another living person. Orion is also a scion and the two of them have a lot in common. Can't say more without spoilers! Helen is touched and relieved when Orion offers to help her in her quest.
Meanwhile, Lucas is acting all broody and jealous, Claire and Cassandra worry that Helen's Underworld quest is slowly killing her, and someone close to Helen betrays her by teaming up with Automadon, a truly creepy new insect-villain. Will Helen manage to find the Furies, assuage their anger, and finally bring peace to the Houses? Or will she die trying?
Like Starcrossed, Dreamless is a big, sprawling, imaginative book. If you loved Starcrossed, I'm pretty sure you'll love Dreamless even more. You might have heard that a love triangle is introduced. Yes, that's true, but it is not the blatant-plot-device kind of love triangle or "all the cool kids are doing it" sort of love triangle but a real, honest-to-goodness romantic confusion. Poor Helen is trapped in a tangle of lies and lust that left me confused as to which guy I thought she should choose. I mean, I can't blame her for sending a bunch of flirty text messages to some new guy, since she was told that under no circumstances could she be with Lucas. Never-ever-ever. No matter what.
My favorite part of Dreamless were the Underworld scenes. (See "I am a huge mythology nerd" above.) That's a good thing, because Helen spends a lot of the book down there. Dreamless has even more action than Starcrossed, features some really scary villains, and introduces some new mythological figures. Loved all that!!
But Dreamless isn't all doom and gloom and romantic angst. The book has plenty of hilarity (a running joke about bed-wetter sheets) and some touching moments (the lonely Orion, the doomed Cassandra, the outcast Hector). Josephine Angelini is a wildly imaginative writer who has created a unique story world. I'm really looking forward to book three in this series!
Have you read Starcrossed? If not tell me about your favorite YA mythology book or your favorite myth in comments!