Miranda @ Bibliodaze

I'm an awesome 24 y/o reader and writer of YA fantasy/historical fantasy. I mainly write about awesome ladies and the people who love them. I work at a library and I'm a contributing reviewer to Bibliodaze.

Starcrossed

StarCrossed - Elizabeth C. Bunce (Trigger Warning(s): Lots of graphic violence, including descriptions of torture, mentions of sexual assault, and Daul is physically abusive to Digger.)Bunce’s A Curse Dark as Gold is one of my favorite fairy tale retelling novels ever. It was a truly imaginative, creative retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but more over I loved Bunce’s writing style. She truly has a great talent for writing, so StarCrossed was high on my list of books to read. StarCrossed is definitely not a book that will work for everyone. A lot of people will read it and say it’s just a tired fantasy, reusing tropes and stock characters, and to an extent it’s true. Digger, the main character, is a thief character we’ve all seen a thousand times: a mysterious past, tries to appear cold on the outside but with a secret heart of gold. I think she’s maybe a little more complicated than that, but because this was a plot driven novel instead of a character driven novel, we don’t have much of a chance to really explore character development. I do think she really was just cold and unlikeable by nature at first, but as she grew to love the new people that surrounded her, a side of her that she hadn’t really had the chance to show began to shine through. As she finds a new family, she becomes easier to relate to and easier to like, to understand. It was good that she sometimes did morally questionable things in the beginning, because she was still trying to stay alive, and staying alive means doing anything you can to get free, even at the expense of other people. I do like how the story was focused more on Digger’s personal growth and finding her temporary place in the world, instead of romance, or having that story supported by a romance. While there is a minor character introduced that will probably be the end game partner for her, he’s only in the story for fifty pages, tops. The rest was all Digger and the others. It was refreshing to see a young YA heroine finding her own way without the catalyst for such a thing being a guy. It’s nice to read her personal journey from a wary, hesitant to trust thief to someone who will do anything to protect those she loves. Bunce does it well, considering most of the novel is focused on political intrigue instead of character development. The development we do get is very subtle, and while I do wish maybe sometimes we had focused more on that, I understand why Bunce didn’t, because there is a LOT to this story that needed to get laid down for the plot to move on. On that note, I don’t think this is a book for readers with little patience, or ones who don’t like slower moving books. It’s not that the pace is slow, exactly, but rather the fact that so much happens in so few pages it FEELS like it’s taking longer than it really is. The time line of the book only takes place over a couple of months, maybe a bit more, but with everything that happens it feels like it’s been unfolding for much longer. It does take a while to get going, but once it does, it goes along at a good speed. That said, the first chapter was incredibly hard for me to get into, mostly because there were new terms and words being thrown around casually by Digger that confused me. As a native to her country I wouldn’t expect her to list who/what so and so were in her mind, but I would have liked a bit of an easier slide into the world instead of being shoved into it all at once. But once I did catch on to the terms and what they meant it became much easier, though I do think the first chapter may turn some readers off of the book. The mystery, at least, was well written. Sometimes I could guess certain plot/character developments chapters before Digger did, and sometimes the book took me completely by surprise. All through the book I couldn’t figure out how it would end or what would happen. Some of the plot--like Digger’s past--were a bit cliche, but since it’s a cliche that works, I’m not going to complain much about it. Sometimes the entire plot seemed a bit like a contrived convenience; Digger just happened to grab the letters that had important information in them, which just happened to lead to a confrontation that killed her partner, which just happened to lead her to run away and just happened to meet Meri and co. on a boat heading out of the city? And then that just happened to roll her along into her new role as Meri’s lady maid (which I never saw much of her doing that work, since she was usually busy spying for Daul. You’d think for missing stuff as much as she did, SOMEONE in charge would have sat her down and tried to figure out what was going on, or give her a talking to)? It just felt a bit contrived at times, but maybe you could argue that the gods are leading her life along a bit. I had mixed feelings on Daul. His character felt a little uneven at times--sometimes he truly did sound threatening and you knew that he really could destroy Digger’s life. Other times his dialogue sounded cartoonish and he was the least threatening person ever. The other characters suffer from the same sort of stock trope that Digger suffers from--from the quiet, reserved girl who, of course, has a hidden strength to the tyrant, intolerant of such-and-such king--but Bunce makes them likable. You want to see them come out okay, and you’re invested in them. I hope their characters get fleshed out more in the next book, and Bunce breaks away from the tropes a little more. The world building I actually loved. It was simplistic--or maybe we’ve only just scratched the surface of what Bunce has created--but it was well done. Digger’s calm, matter of fact thoughts on how people with magic or people who sympathize with magic users, to those who merely LOOKED kindly at someone with magic once, are tortured was chilling and horribly effective. I want to see more of this world and more of how to came to be intolerant against magic, especially since it was a normal part of their world for so long before things went wrong. I hope we’re going to see more of this world in the next book.Bunce's writing remains beautiful as ever. While I did have problems with elements of the story and the pacing, the technical writing itself was gorgeous. Digger is prone to less flowing description as Charlotte was in A Curse Dark as Gold, but when she does let it out, Bunce shows just how good she is at description:“I had never seen such trees - vast, haunting things, stretched up into the heavens, reaching their branches over the water as if they would snatch me from the boat.” [pg. 23]It really does paint the mood and the setting well at the both time, and that quote is easily one of the best in the book, and my favorite. While a flawed book, StarCrossed is still a worthwhile read for fantasy fans who like a little political intrigue thrown in with their fantasy worlds. This definitely is not the book you should come to for a fluffy, light fantasy read, but when you’re in the mood for a heavy, dark sort of novel. Readers who prefer lots of action and a fast pace should avoid this one if they can’t abide a slower book. But all in all I enjoyed it greatly and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series, Liar’s Moon, out November 1st.

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Progress: 259/720 pages