Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars
Published by: Harper Teen
Release date: 9/10/13
Genre: YA (see note below)
288 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

Regarding genre: This is technically paranormal, since the main character is the daughter of Egyptian gods. The story structure, however, is contemporary. This is a story about a girl who is bitter about love because she grew up believing that her parents don't love her enough to keep her forever. That girl, because she spends some time with her brother, meets some great friends and one special boy, re-frames her whole way of thinking. There are paranormal elements, but at its core, this is a contemporary.

Regarding title: Floods, whoever picked this title is a genius. The chaos as it relates to the how the character grew up and what chaos is in her culture; the stars, and what they are for her; the stars, and what they are for another character and his culture; the similarity to an iconic John Green novel, and how similarly brilliant the writing of characters is in the two novels. Seriously: props.

Regarding the premise: The main character is a descendant of Egyptian gods living in modern-day setting. This was a big undertaking, especially considering the huge differences in the culture Isadora is raised in and the culture she lives in for most of the book. The first section, before she travels to her brother's house, is difficult to read. There is a lot of necessary exposition that is heavy and unhappy and impersonal. The last 80% of the book is worth getting through the beginning, so keep reading. If you chalk this one up as a DNF, you will be missing out.

Regarding the writing: The dry, sarcastic humor that I loved in the Paranormalcy series is evident here as well. I bookmarked many spots where the dialog, or the inner monologue, was perfect evidence that I would be friends with these characters; I appreciate people who can be creative and intelligent with their snark. Also, I have utmost admiration for a writer who can describe a week-long project that entails what is basically a black room with white holiday lights, and do it in a way that the reader can perfectly imagine the details and see the beauty of the room. I want one.


As a Kiersten White fan, this book made me geek out before I even opened it. Having finished it, the English major in me is geeking out even more. The structure, which alternates modern-day scenes starring Isadora with ancient scenes explaining Egyptian mythology through the lens of that modern-day descendant, is brilliant. It's essential to understand her background in order to empathize with her position on relationships and love. Yes, she can be mean- but there is a reason for that, and any character written in this mythology who isn't would come off as flat and ingenuine.

I have seen some review of this book that are, frankly, ugly. I get it: Isadora is hard to like at first. For a reader who is simply looking for entertainment, this may not be the best choice. Personally, I applaud White's bold choice to use the YA platform to create art- not just another "top YA pick". Young adults can appreciate strong writing featuring important themes through the lens of a flawed main character; they need to be offered more books like this. Ry's words to Isadora describe my feelings on this book perfectly: "You're strong and funny and smart and beautiful." I guarantee this one will appear on my "Best of 2013" list.


Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.


  1. So glad you liked this. I have an arc for review and have seen quite a few negative reviews so am happy to see something possitive before I start it!

    Kate @ Reading Under the Willow Tree

    1. I am so glad I've helped you go in on a positive note! It really is an impressive piece of writing. I would love to lead a novel study on it.

  2. I'm really really looking forward to read this book, and I have to thank you for a great and totally spoiler-free review!

    Can't wait till my preorder arrives!

    1. Yay, another fan! I'm glad you enjoyed the review. Spoiler-free is just how we roll. ;)

  3. Great job on this review, Paula! *high fives*

  4. I probably read this like... three times in one day! It was so good!!

  5. Ohhh! Intriguing!

  6. Thank you for your honest review. This is why I usually try to finish every book I read even if the beginning is boring me to death. I'm glad this book got better for you.

    1. I try to keep reading, too. Yes, this is one that definitely paid off!

  7. This book sounds amazing. after reading percy jackson, I'm looking for more books with something of mythology, I'm glad to have found something


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