Dreamless – by Josephine Angelini
This is the sequel to Starcrossed, and came out in July. I was impressed by Starcrossed, so was looking forward to this book, and I ripped through it in only a couple of days. Here’s what I thought:
Helen’s had a hectic couple of months. First she discovered that she’s not paranoid: she actually is different from all the other kids. That’s what happens when you’re a Scion, gifted and cursed with the face of the original Helen of Troy. Good news: she’s fallen in love. Bad news: the guy she loves, Lucas, is completely off-limits. And not even in a forbidden fruit kind of way, in a ‘he’s your first cousin’ way. Ugh. But that’s the least of Helen’s troubles (even if it doesn’t always feel like it). As it turns out, this generation of Scions have the responsibility of ending the millenia-old cycle of violence and bloodshed, either by pacifying the Furies and finding relief for all Scions from the mindless violence they demand, or by staging one final showdown between all who remain, which will end in blood and tears. No pressure.
Needless to say, the stakes are high in Angelini’s world, which made for a great read. I really enjoyed Helen’s perspective. She was a great anchor for the action, particularly in her struggle to keep a balance between her nightly trudges through the Underworld and her mundane high school life. The Underworld scenes were vivid; I found myself frustrated with how much Helen had to work out alone, she works so hard to make headway with the task she’s taken on, and for a long time she has no one to help her. Nevertheless, she is determined to see this through for the good of them all. Helen’s a wonderful main character.
The supporting cast continue to be strong and worthwhile. Gods are awesome, and the Scions of Dreamless are kick ass. The narrative included a number of important B storylines that were impeccably interwoven. One of my favourite things about this book was that we weren’t even included in a lot of the interaction between, say, Claire and Jason, or Hector and Daphne – and this didn’t matter at all. They had their own issues to sort out even though we weren’t privy to them. That’s some mature storytelling. Angelini trusts us to get what we need while still having a realistic distance from these characters, which are, after all, only peripheral to our protagonists.
I find that YA based on Gods of old is extremely well-researched, such as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson chronicles. I love this. The meshing of proper myth with an author’s original fantasy makes for a rich reader experience.
I enjoyed Dreamless even more than Starcrossed: it took a strong premise and built on it incredibly well. Realistic emotions, complex motivations, morally ambiguous choices and well-reasoned characters made this novel a more sophisticated YA Fantasy than I was expecting, and a real treat of a book. I’m officially hanging out for the third in the series!
Have you read Angelini’s series of gods and men, or any other fantasy based strongly on myth? How do you find the blending of the two?