Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 2014 Book Review: The Chaos of Stars


By Kiersten White

~Book Review~

 Warning! Spoilers Alert!

THE AUTHOR of the Paranormalcy Series has been on my radar for a while now, but I’ve taken a break from reading vampire/werewolf/fey books. However, The Chaos of Stars is a contemporary take on Egyptian mythology, which let’s be honest, most of what I know comes from Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles. The tantalizing myths he introduced involving the ambitious likes of Isis, the powerful Ra, and the mysterious Anubis immediately made me eager to read more. Fellow fantasy author Colleen Houck (Tiger’s Curse books) is also planning a paranormal romance series around Egyptian mythology, but if it’s anything like White’s Chaos, I’ll be sorely disappointed. I found myself bored and skimming through the majority of the novel. It read like a children’s book, but it lacked the magic of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter—heck, I’m even entertained by Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (the first book. Just the first book).

Isadora is godly royalty. She is none other than the daughter of Isis and Osiris, and grows up surrounded by an immortal family. Pretty awesome, huh? Except for one thing—that immortality bit doesn’t extend to her. She will grow old and die like the rest of us mere mortals. As much as her parents love her, she can’t feel their sincerity since she is one in a long line of Isis’s deceased mortal children. So when she discovers that her mother is yet again pregnant, it isn’t hard to see why Isadora doesn’t jump for joy. Alienated from her ancient Egyptian family, Isadora decides to seek out her own destiny…in San Diego.

In San Diego, Isadora lives with her mother’s brother Sirus. Her intimate knowledge of Egyptian artifacts makes her an ideal candidate to work at the local museum. After Isadora lands in San Diego, the action slows to a crawl. She makes some friends, including Standard Hottie Model #NiceGuy, Ry, and contemplates room decoration and dying her hair purple. Danger lurks in the background, but I’d completely forgotten it until the plot lazily propped up a climax. I didn’t mind that the author chose to make Isadora whiny, but that amount of self-centeredness made it really easy to detach from caring about her struggles.

When Isadora first escapes to America, certain parts of her inner monologue made me wince. She talks about America “having no culture” and “no roots.” Genealogy, history, and religion are “fleeting and unimportant as the latest trend in style”—followed by “Yay! I’ll fit right in!” The sad thing is, this is not true. A person’s genealogy/history/religion are very important and often politicized by the groups in power. There are an abundance of distinctive cultures that are framed as living together harmoniously in a melting pot, but that perspective detracts from the history of how it came to be that way (settlers relationships’ via Hawaiians, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian laborers you name it). Simply put, certain genealogies/histories/religions are privileged over others, and to frame it otherwise is idealistic. “Many cultures” does not equal “none;” in some ways, there is more of an awareness of minority cultures in America than in other countries, even if that awareness does not translate to equal footing. I get that Isadora is young and headstrong, so that is an arguable perspective to have at the beginning, especially since she did not grow up in America. However, nothing following in the novel suggests she learns anything otherwise.

Also, I’m not sure why the paranormal element was included at all, since it wasn’t essential to the story. At the beginning of each chapter, there are these exciting tidbits about ancient Egyptian myths, but they felt completely detached from the actual, day-to-day trudge through a teenager’s life. You could have substituted any other mythology in place of the Egyptian one, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Ry also turns out to have a secret, but it wasn’t very meaningful and didn’t connect with the Egyptian motif. This is basically a teenage romance with some supernatural elements, and a boring one at that.

Recommended for fans of: Colleen Houck, Kendare Blake, Kiera Cass
Upcoming Book Review: Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

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