Review: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
I believe The Chaos of Stars was my "Waiting on Wednesday" pick a long time back, when I was still operating BlookGirl. The first thing that caught my eye was, of course, the beautiful cover, and then the promise of something different: Egyptian folklore and mythology. I have become a big fan of diversity in books, and of reading books based elsewhere than in the US, so it seems appropriate that I finally sat down and read The Chaos of Stars, even if I am a little late to the game.
Isadora's parents, Isis and Osiris, are ancient, immortal Egyptian gods. You'd think after thousands of years, her family would have straightened out their kinks, but just like any other family, they all have their issues and idiosyncrasies. Isadora, a mortal, feels like an outsider amongst her immortal family. Three years earlier, she discovered that she will eventually die, unlike her parents or even her brothers, and everyone seems to be a-okay with this. How can they be okay?! To top it off, Isis has just announced that she is pregnant -again- and Isadora can't help but feel as if she is being prematurely "replaced." See, Egyptian gods only continue to exist in physical form for as long as they are remembered in prayer, so if Isis continues to have children, she will always be remembered, and therefore, always exist in bodily form.
Isadora is fed up with feeling like a pawn in the game of immortal life, so when strange dreams begin to plague her dreams, she jumps at the chance to visit one of her older brothers in California, determined never to return to Egypt. Of course, being in a different country doesn't solve everything, and Isadora is maneuvered into spending the summer at the local museum, preparing for an exhibit honoring - wait for it - her parents. Things start to look up once she makes some friends, including Ry, a cute boy with whom she is determined to be "just friends" because love, like life, doesn't last. When strange, scary things begin happening around her, Isadora must face her heritage, her family, and herself. Does the fragility of mortal life require that we embrace it all the more fully, or does it require that we protect ourselves from potentially hurtful things, like love and meaningful connections with others? Only Isadora can decide this for herself, and that is what this book is really about.
The plot was a little shaky in spots, and did become predictable towards the end, but I still enjoyed the book overall, mostly because Kiersten White took the trouble to include running commentary of Egyptian mythology at the beginning of each chapter, which was entertaining and connected the story (and the reader) to the ancient myths. I also enjoyed the twist that happened later on in the story, which introduces another mythological race. I wonder if Kiersten will write a follow-up?!
Isadora is not always the most likable character, and when she was in the midst of her pity-party at the beginning of the book, I almost stopped reading. However, this is a teenage girl, and I remember what a drama queen I could be at times when I was that age, so I kept reading. I found that Isadora's sarcasm and wit grew on me as the story progressed, and I could empathize with her struggle in coming to terms with her mortality. Her friends help keep her grounded and she begins to find a purpose in working at the museum. Ry, the "love interest" if you will, is a little kooky with his obsessive notebook-writing, but I found that he was an even-headed, likable character, without all of the "hot guy" airs you usually find in YA. I was happy to watch the budding relationship between him and Isadora.
Please note, though, that if you're hoping for a focus on romance, there is very little of that in The Chaos of Stars. This story is more about the importance of making our lives count while we can, and of embracing the beautiful, confounding mess that comes with being part of a family.
Overall, The Chaos of Stars is not without its flaws, but it's light, easy-to-read, and fun to digest in most parts. If you need a weekend or beach read, you may want to consider making this book part of your plans!