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Gods And Mothers (Who Are Also Gods)

Kiersten White’s The Chaos of Stars makes Mandy C. thankful for her family’s (comparatively tame and very un-deity-filled) version of crazy.

Gods And Mothers (Who Are Also Gods)

BOOK REPORT for The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Cover Story: Stargazing
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: She Said (Sometimes Too Much)
Bonus Factors: Egyptian Mythology, Diversity
Anti-bonus Factor: Beautiful People
Relationship Status: Star-crossed Friends

Cover Story: Stargazing

Although it’s simple, I like this cover. No Big Face, no Headless Shirtless Dudes, no typical YA-novel fare. The typeface and the doodles are pretty—although they don’t say Egyptian to me—and the space-ish background is pretty.

The Deal:

Isadora is the (human) daughter of two Egyptian gods—Isis and Osiris. She grew up in Egypt, in a hidden house, learning from her parents and other occasional relatives (also gods) who stopped by. She’s never had the easiest of relationships with her parents, one of whom is literally a mummy and God of the Underworld, and has long looked forward to the day when she gets to set out on her own. When her mother gets pregnant early—Isis typically has a new child every 20 years—16-year-old Isadora jumps at the chance to get out of the house and heads to San Diego to live with her brother. Life outside the nest isn’t always easy, however, as Isadora soon finds out.

BFF Charm: Yay

Isadora—not Issy or Dora or any other nickname—is a strong,confident girl with a crazy family life. She can be a bit naive, but I chalk that up to being extraordinarily sheltered growing up and general teenagerness. She is an aspiring interior designer (which I dabble in myself) and has a wicked fashion sense. I’d be totally self-conscious around her at all times, due to the fact that she’s the daughter of gods, (i.e., tall, gorgeous, exotic and able to run in stilettos) but her sarcasm, acerbic wit and lack of vanity would put me at ease. For example, when she speaks to her brother Horus she says:

“Gee, thanks, Whore-us.” He can’t hear how I spell it, but it makes me feel better just knowing.

Isadora’s also got the gift of tongues, meaning that she can speak and understand pretty much any language in the world (either in use or dead), which would come in total handy on vacations.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

From the moment Isadora meets Ry, there’s a strong connection that she doesn’t fully understand. She’s pledged to never fall in love, thanks to being part of family with some seriously screwed up relationships, so she fights against her feelings. But he’s sweet and intense (and crazy hot, natch; see Anti-bonus Factor below). It takes a lot for her to open up, and although her progression from “I’m never going to love” to “Hmm, maybe I’m missing out” is a bit rushed, it’s believable and sweet.

Talky Talk: She Said (Sometimes Too Much)

On the whole, Kiersten White does a great job of bringing to life a unique character with some deep-rooted issues, but a good sense of self. Isadora is a likeable and believable teenager, and only a few times did I want to pull a Roger Murtaugh on her. The world White has created is great, too; I love the idea that the gods are still kicking around, and that most of their children are just as “human” as the rest of us. (Think Percy Jackson if he wasn’t constantly fighting for his life or to save the world.)

I do have to nitpick White’s use of unusual “curses,” however. Instead of actual cursing (or saying “God …”), Isadora says “floods” when she’s annoyed, surprised, etc. And she says it a lot. It fits with her character, but it is also extremely distracting because it is such an unfamiliar term (to my “ears,” at least).

Bonus Factor: Egyptian Mythology

Yay, gods! At the opening of each chapter of the book, we’re given a bit of backstory into Isadora’s family members, with some great Isadora commentary thrown in:

Isis knew that, with Osiris already in the underworld, she needed another claim to the god-king throne of Egypt. She presented Horus to the other gods, magically conceived after Osiris’s death, young but strong and ready to take his father’s place. And at his side, his mother, who was willing to do anything to support him.

Nephthys wanted a son, too. But Set would not oblige her. So, dressed and made up to look like Isis, she approached a drunken Osiris. Anubis was born. And Nephthys slunk back into the shadows, begging her sister to shield them from Osiris’s wrath and take Anubis as Iris’s own son.

That’s how Anubis is both my half brother and my cousin. Soap operas got nothing on my family history.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Isadora is Egyptian, Ry is Greek. Isadora’s friend and coworker Tina is white, but Tina's boyfriend is half-Taiwanese. There are a lot of different cultures coming together in The Chaos of Stars, but it never feels forced. It’s refreshing to read a book where the main characters are POCs, but the fact isn't forced upon readers or constantly harped upon.

Anti-bonus Factor: Beautiful People

Pretty much everyone in The Chaos of Stars is described in one way or another as being beautiful. Isadora and her family being so is a given, as they’re gods or the spawn of gods. (And even the scary gods can be wickedly beautiful.) But even Isadora’s friends and acquaintances in San Diego are pretty, minus one or two. I felt a little like I was reading a society magazine every time another hot character popped up.

Casting Call:

Tuba Büyüküstün as Isadora

Tuba is Turkish, not Egyptian, but she’s got a fierce beauty about her that I think would work well for Isadora. (She’s also in her 30s, but Hollywood rarely casts actual 16-year-olds to play 16-year-olds anyway.)

Apostolis Totsikas as Ry

Apostolis is totally Greek—and totally pretty. A perfect fit for Ry.

Relationship Status: Star-crossed Friends

You and me, Book, we might not be soulmates, but I’d gladly call you friend. I just don’t want to come over to your house when your Dad’s there. Nothing against him, really, but seeing a mummy walk around in his bathrobe might be too much for me to handle.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from HarperTeen. I received neither pumpkin spice lattes nor money for this review (dammit!). The Chaos of Stars is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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